The Big Bang...

And a soft-shoe routine

Was there ever a time when all was still, when not a single thing moved? Before conscious life, there was movement. In the time before mountains, seas, rocks and soil, before Earth itself, the noble gases of the cosmos shifted and intermingled as they still do, giving birth to galaxies, nebulae and stars. Like the arrhythmic ululations sung by wind and rain, the perpetual kinesis of our realm is time's expression of itself, a dance of moments. Thus, from a certain perspective, dance predates human existence.

But people dance too.

This weekend, the fifth annual St. Louis Dance Festival Showcase mirrors the universe in microcosm as 24 of the metro area's best troupes come together to perform a bewilderingly diverse array of modern and classical world-dance styles including ballet, East Indian, jazz, modern, Spanish, Hawaiian, Egyptian and tap. The showcase, initiated by St. Louis' own Dances of India and funded in part by the Regional Arts Commission, begins at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday night at the Edison Theatre (1 Brookings Drive) on the Washington University campus.

"There really wasn't a lot of unity before, so the idea was to bring all of these dance companies closer," says Dances of India's founder, Dr. Prem. "That closeness has a strong impact on the local dance scene. When you see it, you'll be amazed."

Tickets are $15 in advance and $18 at the door. If you'd like to see both shows (twelve different companies perform each night), you'll want to opt for the $25 festival package. For more information, call Dances of India at 314-997-0911. -- John Goddard

Men on Men
Men Alike listens in on man-talk

We're gonna go out on a limb here and claim that reality television was more sophisticated and civilized 40-odd years ago. While America is currently entertained by watching a multibillionaire with a very bad weave fire power-hungry chuckleheads, the America of 1962 was sitting in on the annual meeting of old friends Archibald MacLeish (statesman, poet, playwright and three-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize) and Mark Van Doren (poet, author and teacher). Their conversation leapt from poetry to politics to Sherlock Holmes and was distilled into a one-hour documentary broadcast by CBS. RFT theater critic Dennis Brown has adapted transcripts of MacLeish and Van Doren's discussion into Men Alike, a staged reading that will be presented at 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 6, through Saturday, May 8, at HH Studios (2200 Sutton Boulevard). Even if you've never read a word of either man's work, Men Alike is sure to teach you more about the world than anything Donald Trump has to offer. Tickets are $10 and are available by calling 314-647-9800. -- Paul Friswold

Sprawl Opposed?
Jane Holtz Kay has your back

THUR 5/6

Your morning commute is long and annoying, but is it un-American? You probably think that's a bit dramatic, but after hearing Jane Holtz Kay speak, you might think again. According to her book, Asphalt Nation, car dependency is responsible for pollution, the breakdown of communities and even our loss of economic competitiveness. Of course, anyone who's tried shopping in St. Louis without a car won't be surprised, but Kay's book brings up interesting tidbits, such as how sprawl is subsidized by the government thanks to our friends in the highway-construction lobby. Find out how to break St. Louis' car dependency at 7 p.m. as Kay leads a discussion on "Sprawl and the Last Chance Landscape." Fittingly, the free talk takes place within walking distance of the Forest Park MetroLink station at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell and DeBaliviere boulevards; 314-746-4599), so there's no excuse for driving. -- Niles Baranowski

Love in the Time of Divorce Lawyers

We are in danger of becoming a nation of booty-callers and "let-me-holla-atcha'"s; every day, more and more desperate singles resort to these instant-gratification methods to attain a few fleeting moments of that most fleeting of commodities, human affection (and it is a commodity, according to the ladies down on Cherokee). The off-Broadway musical comedy I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change! is a more sophisticated, more hopeful (but no less honest) look at the topic of singles in search of singles. Presented by City Theatre at the Clayton Little Theatre (1 Mark Twain Boulevard; 314-719-2855 or for showtimes) Thursdays through Sundays from May 7 through May 29, I Love You offers a respite from the ongoing hunt for love -- and perhaps a few tips as well. Tickets are $15 to $18. -- Paul Friswold

Let Us Show You The vWay

SUN 5/9

Many are the accusations that the young rock pup can throw from the safety of youth at a Styx/Peter Frampton double-header. That's OK, that's what the young are supposed to do: Tear down the past and build something new and meaningful in place of the old idols. So, which one of you snots is going to claim Clay Aiken as your guy? 'Cause we got Peter Frampton's "Show Me the Way" (a song he actually wrote) to hold us over till you make your choice, and that's a song that gets better with age. See if you're still humming "Invisible" in twenty years (or twenty minutes). Frampton comes alive at UMB Bank Pavilion (I-70 and Earth City Expressway; 314-241-1888), and his awesomeness might just pull Styx back to life with him. Tickets are $20 to $45 and showtime is 7:30 p.m. -- Paul Friswold