Before Spain got us all fired up with its hot dishes -- paella and Enrique Iglesias, por ejemplo -- it set the world sizzling with another spicy export: flamenco. A folk dance form attributed to the country's Andalusian gypsies, flamenco's rapid-fire footwork continues to evolve into a theatrical art form -- and win fans across the globe. This weekend, Calo Flamenco: Ballet de Martin Gaxiola ups the Valley's culture quotient with its debut production, Nacimiento ("birth" or "origin"). Having studied flamenco in Spain and the U.S., Phoenix native Gaxiola brings more than 12 years of experience to his troupe.
Performances take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday, February 6; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, February 7; and 2 p.m. Sunday, February 8, at the Phoenix Center for the Arts, 1202 North Third Street. Tickets start at $28; see www.ticketweb.com or call 1-866-468-7621 to order. Visit www.caloflamenco.com for more information. -- Jill Koch
Puppets get the shaft
Were puppets to compile a list of grievances, we'd wager that their number-one beef would involve the all-too-personal placement of puppeteers' hands. And surely not all of them are into being bound and strung from the rafters. But until put-upon puppets organize a union, the manhandling and public hangings are likely to continue -- and occasionally inspire mean-spirited, albeit hilarious, performance pieces. Case in point: Ten Things You Should Never Do With a Puppet, taking the stage this weekend at the Great Arizona Puppet Theater, 302 West Latham. Guest puppeteer Paul Mesner presents the "rather naughty" show -- for adults only -- at 8 p.m. Friday, February 6, and Saturday, February 7. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door. Call 602-262-2050 or see www.azpuppets.org for reservations. -- Jill Koch
Moving in the Right Circles
The Heard provides some hoopla
Set to crown a new ring master, the 14th Annual World Championship Hoop Dance Contest whirls into the Heard Museum, 2301 North Central, this Saturday, February 7, and Sunday, February 8. Symbolizing the cycle of life's renewal, hoop dance is believed to have originated in the Taos Pueblo of New Mexico. It eventually spread across North America, and, this weekend, performers from across the continent will compete in front of an expected crowd of 10,000. A Grand Entry kicks off the hoopla at 10 a.m. both days, as all the participants, ranging in age from 2 to 60, dance into the museum's amphitheater.
Call 602-251-0255 for tickets -- $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $3 for kids 4 to 12. See www.heard.org for more information. -- Jill Koch
Movin' On Upstairs
TIMB gets a new home basement
Theatre in My Basement has modified its game plan. The underground theater group, under ground no longer, is shacking up at Modified Arts. "We're joining forces because we want to investigate the obvious notion that alternative performance needs an alternative venue," explains Christopher Danowski, "artistic director/co-conspirator" of the "alternative, avant-garde, experimental, multicultural, intercultural, pomo, post-structural, post-performance" group.
"We want to explore how coalitions can work together . . . to put the most exciting and adventurous local artists in music, performance and visual art in Phoenix center stage."
TIMB plans to present performances on the second Wednesday of each month, beginning this Wednesday, February 11, with a housewarming party-slash-benefit show. The showcase of "performance art, exotic dance, theater, spoken word and people talking about their dogs" starts at 8 p.m. at Modified, 407 East Roosevelt. Admission is $5. See www.timb.org or www.modified.org for details. -- Jill Koch
The Big 'O'
Tragedy strikes at Herberger
Minneapolis' Guthrie Theater, in cooperation with Arizona Theatre Company, presents Othello, the intense tale of love mangled by politics, race, jealousy and straight-up evil. Othello, the Moorish hero, and wife Desdemona are a match made in Shakespearean heaven. But the obsessive jealousy of his friend Iago plants the seeds of suspicion that ultimately turn the tale from a love story into a tragedy.
"It is, I think, one of the most accomplished of Shakespeare's tragedies," says director Joe Dowling. "It's a play that demands absolute intensity from the actors."
Othello is presented Thursday, February 5, through Sunday, February 8, at the Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. Tickets range from $40 to $45 and are available at www.arizonatheatre.org. Call 602-256-6899 for details. -- Quetta Carpenter
African troupe performs war piece
Fusing sound and fury into an artful antiwar statement, the dancers of Jant-Bi pay rhythmic respect to the victims of the violence ravaging Rwanda. The Senegalese troupe visits the Valley this weekend to perform Fagaala ("genocide"), a collaboration between Senegalese choreographer Germaine Acogny and Japanese choreographer Kota Yamazaki. The production takes the stage at ASU's Gammage Auditorium at 7 p.m. Saturday, February 7; patrons can catch a gratis glimpse at a noon Brown Bag Rehearsal on Friday, February 6. Call 480-965-3434 or see www.ticketmaster.com for tickets to the evening performance, $20 to $30 (half-price for children, students, ASU alumni and groups of 10 or more). For more information, visit asugammage.com.