Think of dance as a language that all can comprehend. Just as there are words that express such an intuitive range of emotion that they cannot be translated into another language, dance is a vocabulary that cannot easily be translated to the page. One must witness the dance to understand what the dance is communicating.
In this sense there'll be a whole lot of communication onstage this weekend as the Mid America Dance Company opens its 2005 season with In Concert, a performance that features six new works created by six different choreographers.
Highlights of the program include Todd Weeks' "Spectrum," which Weeks premiered at Dance St. Louis' Contemporary Moves Festival in May 2004, and Helen Myers' "Bop d Bounce," a piece created especially for the company by the New York-based choreographer. Weeks, Mid America Dance's resident choreographer, drew his inspiration for "Spectrum" from the effects color has on human psychology (yet another wordless, untranslatable kind of intuitive communication), while Myers' piece translates the unique percussion style of jazz drummer Leon Parker into a "bouncing, springing" dance that is keyed by delicate timing on the part of the dancers.
Of course, reading all this blather does you no good if you don't see the performance; if you've read this far, you have to attend. In Concert is performed at 8 p.m. in the Lee Theater of the Touhill Performing Arts Center (on the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus, 1 University Drive at Natural Bridge Road; 314-516-4949) on Friday and Saturday (January 28 and 29). Tickets are $10 to $20. -- Paul Friswold
"Somewhere over the rainbow/Way up high"; sure, you know the rest of this song -- you love this song! Now it's time to pay homage to Harold Arlen, the m an who composed "Over the Rainbow," made Munchkins sing and got the world to listen. Arlen would have been 100 years old this February, so Faith Prince and Tom Wopat (Luke Duke is in the house!) perform some of the composer's classics during the multimedia show "Over the Rainbow: Celebrating a Century of Harold Arlen." Catch this one-night-only tribute at 7 p.m. at the Touhill Performing Arts Center (on the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus, 1 University Drive at Natural Bridge Road). For more information or to purchase tickets ($23 to $45), log on to www.touhill.org or call 314-516-4949. -- Amy Helms
To Know Them
After 43 years invested with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, percussionist Rich O'Donnell has a new gig with the Unknown Unknowns, a razor-sharp trio of musicians who each have been around long enough to pick up a trick or two. Violinist Leroy Jenkins (pictured) and Denman Maroney (his "hyperpiano" style pushes the piano's sonic boundaries) round out the group. The Unknowns recently debuted in New York to a sold-out crowd, and now the group performs in St. Louis at 8 p.m. at Washington University's Graham Chapel (6445 Forsyth Boulevard). A mere $12 ($6 for students) secures your seat for an innovative evening of music. Call New Music Circle at 314-995-4963 or visit www.newmusiccircle.org for more information about the concert. -- Jedidiah Ayres
Sister of Mercy
In Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States, Sister Helen Prejean found the voice and soul of a person often kept voiceless and long considered soulless. Hers was a tale of compassion and grief for the victims and their families -- and for the imprisoned man, whose anguish was all-consuming. Eleven years later, in The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions, Sister Prejean finds an even more gut-wrenching reality in the executions of innocent people. Hear Prejean elaborate on the racial and political motives that haunt our justice system when she visits Fontbonne University (6800 Wydown Boulevard; call 314-444-1842 to make a reservation). The free reading and book signing begin at 7 p.m. -- Brooke Foster