The judges: a bevy of belly dancers from the United States and abroad. The contestants: fourteen belly dancers extraordinaire. Where they collide: Desert Moon Dance Academy's MEDINA (Middle Eastern Dance in North America) competition on Friday, August 27, at the Maryland Heights Centre (2344 McKelvey Road; 314-432-2281). There, some of this hemisphere's finest belly dancers show their stuff in hopes of shaking their way to fame and fortune. A grand prize of $1,000 is bequeathed unto the top performer, and a $100 prize is given to the People's Choice dancer, whom audience members get to choose.
Lucky for you, the RFT has sneaked a peak at some of the contestants, and we're passing our good fortune along. Check out Turkish cabaret-style dancer Schadia, Californian Shabnam Pena (who prefers "the company of animals, especially kittens, to people," according to press materials) and the Hungary-born Mercedes Nieto -- just to name a few showstoppers.
And if competition is not your bag, try the Saturday, August 28, performance instead. Showcased therein is Shiara (last year's MEDINA winner), the Desert Moon Dancers, Friday's MEDINA champs and international sensation and headliner Hadia. (Pictured is Kaya, who competed in 2003.)
Both events begin at 7 p.m., and complimentary wine is promised for the of-age. Call MetroTix at 314-534-1111 to purchase tickets ($10 to $20), and visit www.desertmoondance.com for more details. -- Christine Whitney
Nelly, Chingy and J-Kwon are this boot-heeled, landlocked state's answer to the old East Coast-West Coast (and Dirty South) rap battles. But Missouri still hasn't marked its territory in one very important musical area: the period-costumed historical singing group. Until now, that is. With this super-old-school phenomenon givin' a shout-out on this country's shores, it's about time that our homegrown Lewis & Clark Singers answer back. At 2 p.m. the group's 30 members do just that with "A Journey of Music" at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; 314-746-4599 or www.mohistory.org). This show is free, unlike a rap concert, and we can pretty much promise that it starts on time. Unique concept. Hip-hop hooray! -- Alison Sieloff
1904, Can You Hear Me?
A century of deaf advocacy
OK, so maybe the ice cream cone wasn't really invented at the 1904 World's Fair. And yeah, it would seem that the fair can't take credit for iced tea, hamburgers or hot dogs, either. But the fair did give birth to the Missouri Association of the Deaf, another venerable institution that has arguably done more for the common good than those artery-packing treats. MoAD came together in the wake of the World Congress of the Deaf held at that fair and has promoted human rights and quality of life for deaf citizens ever since. The Missouri Historical Society celebrates MoAD's century of advocacy with a program from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue). At 2 p.m. a presentation about the history of MoAD and deaf culture in Missouri features the Reverend Arthur Steideman and a variety of skits starring deaf actors. Various deaf organizations will staff informational booths and historical displays. Admission is free. For more information, call 314-746-4599 or visit www.mohistory.org. -- Jason Toon
Of all Shakespeare's plays, none brings as much pleasure to the conspiracy-loving paranoid than Richard III. The titular man who would be king is gloriously evil, intelligent and a conniving manipulator. Ah, Richard; today you would be vice president, or perhaps CEO of a large oil company. Maybe even both. St. Louis Shakespeare presents Richard III at the Grandel Theatre (3610 Grandel Square; 314-361-5664) August 27 through September 5 (Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.). Tickets are $17. -- Paul Friswold