Ballet Arizona's "Black & White Gala": The troupe's formal, season-opening bash features world-class hoofers and a wide-ranging repertoire. The highlights: the premiere of "Solo for a Gala" by BA artistic director Michael Uthoff, danced by Jeremy Raia; Kevin O'Day (Twyla Tharp's company, Baryshnikov's White Oak Project) performing his own "Quartet for IV"; Lauren Gelfand and James Russell Toth of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens in the pas de deux from Don Quixote; Ballet Arizona's Mariusz Ostrowski and Britt Juleen in a reprise of Uthoff's "Dazed and Confused" from last season's baby-boomer smash "Ask Not . . ."; and, as a curtain-closer, the entire gala cast performing George Balanchine's "The Four Temperaments," one of the works from Basically Balanchine (see Friday). Showtime is 8:30 p.m. Thursday, September 18, in Center Stage at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe; a nosh precedes at 7, and onstage "disco dancing" with the performers follows. A limited number of performance-only tickets were available at press time for $40; regular tickets are $150. Proceeds benefit BA. Call 381-1096.
"Inescapable Histories": The retrospective of the career of New York-based artist Mel Chin, the product of China-born parents and an upbringing in a racially mixed neighborhood in Houston, Texas, addresses Chin's deep concerns for personal and Earth history, human rights and, most notable, the environment. (The sculptor/eco-artist is likely best known for his large-scale piece "Maquette for Revival Field," a living sculpture that substituted "hyperaccumulator" plants for his usual medium of marble and was inspired by the "Revival Field" project focusing on the "green remediation" process of removing heavy metals from contaminated soil.) "Inescapable Histories" continues through Sunday, November 9, in the Mezzanine and Lower galleries at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Viewing is free; hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays (to 8 p.m. Thursdays), noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Call 994-2787.
Live: Vocalist Edward Kowalczyk and the rest of the Throwing Copper guys from York, Pennsylvania, play earnest, beetle-browed stuff that, per the band's press kit, is centrally concerned with "the challenge of mounting a spiritual quest [amid] the chaos and debris of the modern world." Commendable, but U2's got that base pretty well covered, and, you know, come on, it's only rock 'n' roll; i.e., if you're the type who'd rather sit through a Richard Gere discourse on Tibet than watch him wooing a leading lady on the screen, Live's the band for you. Touring behind Secret Samadhi, the follow-up to the multiplatinum Copper, Live plays Thursday, September 18, at Desert Sky Pavilion, 2121 North 83rd Avenue. Luscious Jackson, and ManBREAK open. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15.25 and $22.25, available at Ticketmaster. Call 254-7599 or 784-4444.
Coco Fusco and Nao Bustamante: Fusco is a New York-based interdisciplinary artist, parodist and essayist (English Is Broken Here: Notes on Cultural Fusion in the Americas); the appropriately named Bustamante is a voluptuous so-called "sexpert" and limit-pushing improv "body artist" from San Francisco. The performance artists unveil their new collaboration, Stuff, at 8 p.m. Friday, September 19; and the same time Saturday, September 20. Co-commissioned by London's Institute for Contemporary Art, the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art and the L.A. performance space Highways, Stuff is described by its creators as an examination of "how fear and desire for food, satiation, nurturing and erotic pleasure are . . . connected to perceptions of Latin culture and Latin women." Also expect "cabaret-style entertainment, protracted ludicrous toasts and readings from ancient cookbooks." About 10 lucky (or maybe not) audience members will be selected at random for an onstage feedbag of purportedly aphrodisiacal munchies. The scene is Second Stage West, located in the University Center Building on the Arizona State University West campus, 4701 West Thunderbird in Glendale. Tickets are $10, $8 for seniors, $5 for students. Call 543-6057.
Fritz Scholder: It figures to be the fall of Fritz--or the season of Scholder, if you prefer--as the world-infamous, Minnesota-born, Arizona-based painter/sculptor is saluted in his adopted hometown with upcoming installations at Phoenix Art Museum (next week), Scottsdale Center for the Arts (late October) and Scottsdale's Cultural Exchange (early November). Scholder previews the PAM exhibit with the show-and-tell presentation "Object As Creativity" at 6:30 p.m. Friday, September 19, in AED 60, located in the Architecture and Environmental Design Building on the Arizona State University campus in Tempe. Admission is free; space is limited. Call 965-4135.
Basically Balanchine: Following its "Black & White Gala" on Thursday (see above), Ballet Arizona opens its regular season with this homage to the "father of American ballet"--an all-Balanchine program that includes "Serenade: A Dance in the Light of the Moon," "The Four Temperaments: A Dance Ballet Without Plot" and the jazzy "Rubies" (the middle movement from the late choreographer's ballet Jewels). Opening performances are at 8 p.m. Friday, September 19; 8 p.m. Saturday, September 20; and 2 p.m. Sunday, September 21, in Center Stage at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. More shows are scheduled Thursday, September 25, through Saturday, September 27. Tickets range from $9 to $34.50, available at the center and Dillard's; call 252-8497 or 503-5555.