The Brazilian art form/dance/martial art Capoeira has been described as "a conversation between two bodies in motion," a succinct description that doesn't quite convey the complexity and historical significance of the art. Capoeira was invented in Brazil 400 years ago by African slaves as a method of expression and self-defense. The roda (or "game"), as it's referred to in Portuguese, is performed by two artists inside a circle of other participants. They perform kicks, acrobatics and rhythmic motions to the beat created by the encircling players, who play instruments specific to Capoeira -- the berimbau (a stringed bow), the atabaque (floor drum), and the pandeiro (a tambourine). The music controls the game; the players must move in time with the changing tempo.Axé Capoeira Arizona, the Valley's first Capoeira academy, opened its doors not long ago at 1644 North Scottsdale Road in Tempe. The academy's fourth annual Batizado kicks off this Thursday, November 13, celebrating the form through workshops, rodas and a Brazilian/Latin party. Thursday evening features classes and rodas at the academy. On Friday, November 14, and Saturday, November 15, the action moves to ASU for more workshops and rodas, followed by a party at El Zocalo's Restaurant in Chandler. The event concludes Sunday, November 16, with a performance at Phoenix College's Bullpit Auditorium. Tickets for the entire event are $75. Call 602-614-7367 or visit www.axecapoeira-az.com. - Brendan Joel Kelley

Star Power

Zodiac Show spotlights celestial celebs

Sat 11/15
Support the sign arts this Saturday, November 15 -- and discover how planetary position affects the creative process -- when the Paper Heart Gallery presents The Zodiac Show. While 12 performers -- one from each sign of the astrological calendar -- present poetry, music, dance, video art and "acts of the bizarre," audience members can gain guidance from a futures analyst (a.k.a. tarot reader)."Introspective folk musicians, scatterbrained filmmakers, and fiery-eyed performance artists -- they'll all be there representing their sign," promises promoter JRC.

Showtime is 8 p.m. at the Paper Heart, 222 North Fifth Avenue. Admission is $5 at the door; call 602-258-5079 or see www.thepaperheart.com.- Jill Koch

Meow Mix

Stray Cat Theatre provides a double header

This season, Stray Cat Theatre is all about boys and the hood. Taking the stage Friday, November 14, Patty Red Pants -- a "surreal, psychosexual black comedy" -- melds fantasy (elements of Little Red Riding Hood) and fact (the story of a teen's murder). The following evening, Stray Cat's late-night series debuts with Hysteric Studs, a crude, campy take on the boy band phenomenon. The plays run back-to-back from Sunday, November 16, through December 6 at the VYT Performing Outreach Center, 1121 North First Street. See www.straycattheatre.org or call 602-253-8188, extension 2. - Jill Koch

To Bee or Not to Bee

Bee-Luther-hatchee ponders existence

Bee-Luther-hatchee tells the story of an African-American book editor who discovers something about the elderly black woman whose memoirs he's recently published: She may not exist. But Thomas Gibbons' acclaimed play isn't about the publishing world. It's not even about race relations, really.

"It's about who's entitled to our individual histories," says Charles St. Clair, director of the iTheatre Collaborative production. "Who has the right to tell the story of a people, a culture? Should the color of your skin or your gender dictate how you can express yourself? Those are the pressing questions of this play -- and of everyday life."

The play's title is 1930s railroad slang for "the next stop after Hell," which Gibbons suggests is the state of racial politics in the U.S. today.

"Entitlement and reverse discrimination are valuable issues that rarely get addressed," adds St. Clair. "I'm hoping to help blur some cross-cultural lines with this performance."

Bee-Luther-hatchee continues through November 22 at the Herberger Theater Center's Performance Outreach Theater, 222 East Monroe. Call 602-347-1071 for tickets.- Robrt L. Pela

Cracking Up

"Tis the season for Nutcracker

Sat 11/15
Nothing says Christmas like a freaky kitchen gadget in tights coming to life and showing a little girl around la-la land. The Dodge Theatre is hosting the Moscow Ballet's annual U.S. tour of the world's most famous ballet. This production, The Great Russian Nutcracker, will be performed by 50 graduates of Moscow Choreographic Institute and Vaganova Institute, and will also feature 88 local child and teen dancers. But unlike the more familiar American version, the Russian version of the ballet ends in the Land of Peace and Harmony -- where dreams are real, language is moot, and love, peace and giving don't wait for December 25. The performances are at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, November 15, at the Dodge Theatre, 400 West Washington. Tickets are $24 to $64 and may be purchased at the box office or through Ticketmaster, 480-784-4444. - Quetta Carpenter