Against the Grain



Against the Grain

George Balanchine may have said that "ballet is woman," but this festival of choreography and performance by men contradicts his aphorism. Like the earlier fests, which date back to 1996, these two programs showcase a wild variety of dance—from the fringe edges to the mainstream, nervous first-timers to seasoned professionals—all joined by the commonality of gender. Opening weekend includes returning artists Philip Borunda, Kabby Mitchell III, Gerard Theoret, and the inimitable Wade Madsen, while week two features choreography by Mark Haim, Raymond Houk, Brian Joe, and Peter Kyle (pictured), all with works spanning generations and styles. Opens Fri., Oct. 8. 8 p.m. Fri.–Sat.; 7 p.m. Sun. Ends Sun., Oct. 17. $12–$14. Velocity MainSpace Theater, 915 E. Pine St., 206-515-9868. SANDRA KURTZ



The Honorable Ann Richards

If she didn't have a good sense of humor before becoming the first female governor of Texas, she surely developed it on the job. Richards is being billed here more or less as a stand-up comedian, but the woman who lassoed the Lone Star State is about more than punch lines. She supported minority candidates in her county long before affirmative action, and she's recently lent her image to the battle against osteoporosis. Her unlikely ascent in Texas should fuel some anecdotes this evening, but she's just as apt to talk about a certain fellow Texan who rose just a little bit higher. 7:30 p.m. Thurs., Oct. 7. $25–$75. Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., 206-467-5510. NEAL SCHINDLER



The Big Animal

Working from a script by the late, great Krzysztof Kieslowski, this fleet 2000 Polish feature tells the story of Sawicki (Jerzy Stuhr, the film's director, pictured), a simple village clerk whose life is revitalized by his love for a deserted circus camel. "They can do us no harm, because we're together," he promises the creature, yet the envious community becomes fearful, and the town council even demands he exploit his happiness through merchandising. Kieslowski's sentiments get a trifle obvious, but Stuhr, both as actor and director, keeps the piece in place, steadfastly moving his hump-backed metaphor along until the little man's emancipation feels as important as it is unusual. 7:30 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. Fri., Oct. 8–Thurs., Oct. 14. Also 4 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. Sat.–Sun. Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 206-523-3935. STEVE WIECKING



Quiet Revolution

You never know what you'll get in a visual arts show at ConWorks, but usually there's a sprinkling of genius somewhere in there. The latest group show has real potential—in spite of a press release that promises "interpersonal politics, atmospheric conditions, civil disobedience, fantasy vs. the real, and sensorial information"—in Mandy Greer, who creates lovely installations that weave animals and fables in fabric, beads, and glitter (like the Wolf Prince and the Parrot Princess, pictured). Other artists on tap: Paul Margolis, who does amazing things with quilts; Jack Ryan, whose installation containing hundreds of acrylic ears reflects on going deaf at age 29; and Kat Tomka's sculptures made from Scotch tape. Reception 8 p.m.–2 a.m. Fri., Oct. 8. 4–8 p.m. Thurs.–Fri.; 1–8 p.m. Sat.–Sun. Ends No. 21. $7. Consolidated Works, 500 Boren Ave. N., 206-860-5245. ANDREW ENGELSON



A.J. Jacobs

In The Know-It-All (Simon & Schuster, $25), Esquire editor Jacobs documents his attempt to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. Why the stunt? It probably made for a snappy book pitch, but Jacobs had a serious agenda, too: He was hoping to combat the intellectual inertia that sets in after college, when pop-culture minutiae (Britney married who?) replaces canonical learning. Filled with fun facts and reminiscent of Join Me, Danny Wallace's recent account of accidentally founding a cult, The Know- It-All combines goofy humor and a surprisingly riveting premise to buoyant, immensely readable effect. 7 p.m. Wed., Oct. 13. Free. University Book Store, 4326 University Way N.E., 206-634-3400. NEAL SCHINDLER

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