As you emerge from the aged, dark bowels of London's Underground and walk beneath the cloudy, spitting sky, your eyes turn toward the charcoal grayness of the River Thames, constantly flowing, yet seemingly never changing. The same uneasy feeling of cool agelessness is unshakeable as you enter the imposing stone fortress that is the Tower of London. For one thing, this place is really old -- one part of it was completed more than 900 years ago. And there's an inherent creepiness inside the tower's walls that must be felt in any place where many people were imprisoned and killed. This, of course, is where the "dear" second wife of King Henry VIII was beheaded in 1536. And his fifth wife was killed here, too -- Henry was quite a king. After wife number two -- or Anne Boleyn, as you probably know her -- was sentenced to death for adultery (and/or treason), she was held in part of the ominous tower complex to await her execution. As you can imagine, the days counting down to her ultimate demise were not happy ones -- and if they had been, she probably wouldn't have composed "O Death, Rock Me Asleep." Hear this and other old music at "Chamber Music by Women Composers from 800 to 1600," a free concert held at 7:30 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; 314-516-5980). Rumor has it that poor Anne isn't sleeping at all, and her ghost just may pay the concert a visit. -- Alison Sieloff
Dance Grants Freedom
To minds and bodies
Birds know true freedom, because with a mere flap of the wing, they can escape the entanglements of this earth. That's probably why these creatures have long served as spiritual symbols, as metaphors for our souls. The aTrek Dance Collective celebrates this tradition with a new performance piece, "Cawville," which incorporates song, dance and storytelling in a tale where humans become birds and vice versa. Fly over to the Emerson Performance Center at Harris-Stowe State College (3026 Laclede Avenue) on Friday at 8 p.m. or Saturday at either 2 or 8 p.m. (February 4 and 5) to check out this piece and the entire program, Taking Flight: Cawville and Other Works. Tickets cost $5 to $15; call 314-772-7778 or visit www.atrekdance.org to make a purchase or for more information. -- Guy Gray
Shadow of Your Smile
Carlos Ruiz Zafón wrote a book, which in and of itself is no small feat, but his book -- The Shadow of the Wind -- appeared on bestseller lists in four countries and had reviewers eagerly scratching his name next to Gabriel García Márquez and Jorge Luis Borges. Didn't hear Dan "Da Vinci Code" Brown called the next Umberto Eco, did you? Ah, but we're Americans, so quality is secondary to the big question: As far as we know, there's no movie deal yet for Shadow, but that could all change as the Barcelona-born former Los Angeles resident tours the United States. Zafón appears at Left Bank Books (399 North Euclid Avenue) at 7 p.m. to read and sign his novel -- which, now that you're wondering, is about a book titled The Shadow of the Wind that was discovered by a young man in postwar Barcelona in the mysterious Cemetery of Forgotten Books. This intrepid reader attempts to track down the author, but there are forces at work to make sure he doesn't. Call 314-367-6731 or visit www.left-bank.com for more details about the free event. -- Mark Dischinger
Obviously not the stage adaptation of the Jennifer Garner movie, Electra is instead the Greek tragedy (Sophocles' rendition, not the Aeschylus or Euripides versions) that gave Garner's character her name. Surrounded by death and betrayal, this Electra throws no karate kicks, but she does take some heavy emotional blows. The West End Players Guild presents the Frank McGuiness translation of Electra at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday (February 4 through 13) at the Union Avenue Christian Church (733 North Union Boulevard; 314-367-0025). Tickets are $10. -- Paul Friswold
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