Roman Feet 

Adventures in nonirony

SUN 9/7

Recently I went sleuthing for information on Dance Romanesque, directed by Rick Heiman. There was some question about its intent -- whether, for example, it is a straight-ahead, nonironic dance company or something more tongue-in-cheek. Don't try looking for its Web site; it doesn't have one yet. But among the search results for the name was a story about a restaurant in Cincinnati dedicated to keeping Romanesque -- in the sense of Roman, not eleventh-century French -- themes alive. All the waitresses wear togas. The doormen are decked out in skimpy centurion skirts. There are lots of gaudy lights and huge TV screens set in a pink and mauve color theme. Was that the kind of niche Heiman had found himself: ancient militarist kitsch overlaid with a lot of hip-hop or retro disco, and TVs for those who'd rather watch the dance on video? It was unclear, but in these mad times, the idea might actually have some appeal. Once Heiman was located, it turned out that togas and mauve aren't exactly what he has cooking, although eclecticism is on his front burner. His training is broader than most modern dancers'. Not many Limón-trained folks I know can belly dance and glide around a ballroom. Heiman can. He also likes jazz to spice up his traditional modern training, and fuses ballet and Latin styles with the rest of it. At heart, though, he's one of those guys driven by the music. "Romanesque reflects my bias for classicism and romanticism in art," he explained. He gives his works names like "960" (the opus number), and "Bacchante." He's sincere, and that is refreshing in itself. "I frequently work from the music, and I prefer music with passion," he said. He doesn't mind rope climbers, fire eaters, and stilt walkers in dance. He probably wouldn't mind togas, either. He just doesn't need them. "I guess we're pretty old-fashioned." In fact, he said, "I hope we're so old that we're new." Dance Romanesque takes place at 7 p.m. Saturday at Eighth Street Studio Theater, 2525 8th St., Berkeley. Info: 707-217-2682. -- Ann Murphy



Blood wedding

The Roma people (aka Gypsies) have received serious, sympathetic treatment in recent movies -- especially by filmmakers Tony Gatlif and Emir Kusturica -- but not so much on stage, until now. Bay Area resident Will Gordon's musical drama, My Gypsy, tells the story of Yalena, a young Roma woman with a dilemma: either marry Jonnie, the gadjo (non-Gypsy) guy she really loves, and face the sanctions of her family; or go through with an arranged marriage to a womanizing Roma named Carlos, who is in turn infatuated with a non-Gypsy woman. The topic is a touchy one for Roma -- the playwright reportedly received a death threat. My Gypsy, directed by Gemma Whelan, previews at Mills College, Sept. 5-14, then plays SF and Marin before coming to Walnut Creek's Del Valle Theatre, Oct. 17-26. Info: 650-960-3536. -- Kelly Vance

THU 9/4

Making It Boog

Always something new and unusual at Mama Buzz Cafe and Buzz Gallery, in the heart of Oakland's bohemian quarter at 2316 and 2318 Telegraph Ave. The space is getting a new facade, or rather a new window to replace the bars that gave it its urban chic. But this week's big news is the Boog City Goes West party Thursday night (7 p.m.), in which New York City-based community newspaper/literary review Boog City makes a West Coast swing. Any number of contributing poets -- including Taylor Brady, Jill Stengel, Donna de la Pierre, Joseph Lease, Delia Tramontina, Sean Finney, and Trane DeVore -- will gather to read and celebrate their larger literary community. or 510-465-4073. -- Kelly Vance


Math Matters

Sorsha Miles has some star-studded shoes to fill. Though the lead role in David Auburn's Pulitzer- and Tony-winning play, Proof, is that of a dowdy, 25-year-old depressive, it's a part that has been brought to critically acclaimed life by Mary-Louise Parker on Broadway and by Gwyneth Paltrow in London. Miles -- who recently played Louise in Theatreworks' production of Jane Eyre but is mostly known for her musical roles -- makes her Playhouse West debut this week as Catherine, the daughter of a late, great, and troubled mathematical genius. Is the stunning new proof found in her father's papers his, or did Catherine create it, as she claims? Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts; 925-943-7469 -- Stefanie Kalem


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