Anyone who missed the wonderful documentary Buena Vista Social Club, about the fantastic musicians and music of Cuba, has a chance to more than make up for the karmic deficit by attending what promises to be a brilliant performance by the Afro-Cuban All Stars at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 7, at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts. Here's what you need to know: Afro-Cuban music performed live is to recorded Afro-Cuban music what a hot dog is to filet mignon -- both are immensely enjoyable but by no means in the same class. This stuff is raw joy -- intellectual, physical, spiritual. The All Stars make a point of demonstrating a wide variety of Afro-Latino music: classic son montuno, timba, swinging big band guajira, jazz, danzon, the tribal rhythms of Abakua, bolero and so forth. This show will make you want to get up and dance, especially if you've had a steak, a couple of Cuba Libres and a fat Cohiba. Do not be inhibited by chairs or aisles or guys wearing polo shirts and blazers. Dance your ass off. Then go home and have a hot dog or, better yet, an empanada. For details call 480-994-ARTS (2787).- Henry Cabot Beck
Drum and Drummer
May comes in with a bang -- several, in fact -- as ASU's African Drum Ensemble performs a free concert Sunday, May 4. Part of the Herberger College's ethnomusicology program, the group replicates rhythms from Mali, Guinea, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal. The beat goes on at 7:30 p.m. at the Student Services Amphitheater, at Gammage Parkway and Forest in Tempe. Listeners are welcome to bring lawn chairs and blankets; call 480-965-3587 for details. - Jill Koch
Stoppard's math is more chic than geek
It's got the Second Law of Thermodynamics and Fermat's Last Theorem, but there's more to Arcadia than advanced mathematics. The play also delves into physics, history, literature and the visual arts -- while raising questions about love, knowledge, truth and the nature of genius. An ambitious syllabus for an evening at the theater, and Mesa Community College is tackling it. Written by Tom Stoppard (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead), Arcadia juxtaposes 1809 tutoring sessions with a present-day investigation of a scandal involving Lord Byron. The production opens at Theatre Outback, 1833 West Southern in Mesa, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 1, and continues through Sunday, May 4. Tickets are $8, with discounts for seniors, students and staff. Call 480-461-7170.- Jill Koch
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Helen Keller's story inspires dance concert
DeVere Dance Company's artistic director Deborah Meiers began teaching basic dance technique to visually impaired junior high students from the local Foundation for Blind Children back in September. Her objective was to incorporate them with DeVere and Glendale Community College dancers into In My Hands, a dance biography inspired by the life of Helen Keller.Original music for the piece was created by Phoenix College instructor Eric Shultz, who assigned tones to each letter in the Braille alphabet to create actual words in the music. "The children will be dancing to their own voices counting out the rhythms, and the tones are actually spelling out words in Braille," says Meiers.
In My Hands will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 2, and Saturday, May 3, at Glendale Community College Performing Arts Center, 6000 West Olive in Glendale; call 623-845-3796 for tickets, $4 to $5. It also takes the stage on Sunday, May 4, at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street in Scottsdale. For tickets, $12 to $15, call 480-994-ARTS.- Quetta Carpenter