Van Cliburn, SketchFest, and Out for Fame

Van Cliburn

Cliburn leapt to household-word status after winning the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958—a rangy Texas boy who bested the Ruskies at their own game at the height of the Cold War, earning himself a ticker-tape homecoming parade. Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 became his signature piece, a work perfectly suited to his imperial wrought-iron piano style (his post-competition recording of it became the first million-selling classical album ever). He'll play it again as the guest for the Seattle Symphony's all-Russian season-opening gala concert. Benaroya Hall, Third and Union, 206-365-7770. $35-$85 concert only; gala packages with dinner and dancing start at $375. 7 p.m. Sat. Sept. 10. GAVIN BORCHERT


They come from Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and right here at home (the surly-looking lunatics from Flaming Box of Stuff, pictured). And they won't leave until you're reduced to tears—the good kind. The 2005 edition of this annual salute to the sketch comedy form features a dozen of the nation's finest, funniest freaks for two shows a night, two groups per show, across two weekends. The gathering's stated intention to make you "laugh your head off" may be just the tonic for these otherwise not-so-funny times. Capitol Hill Arts Center, 1621 12th Ave., or for tickets and full schedule. $15 for each show. Opens Thurs. Sept. 8. 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Thurs.-Sat. Ends Sat. Sept. 17. STEVE WIECKING

Out for Fame

The competitive aspect of break dancing is so engaging that it's easy to slip into sports stereotypes—dancers as athletes, the young upstart pitted against the established favorite. And Out for Fame follows right along, matching upcoming local crews against the award-winning Massive Monkees in an elimination tournament à la basketball's Final Four. (J.D. "Twixx" Rainey is here balancing Jerome "Jeromeskee" Aparis.) But beyond these themes is the dancing itself, powerfully twisting and surging phrases that defy conventional physics: turning, yes, but on the top on the head; walking on hands; resting while cantilevered on an elbow. The basic vocabulary of breaking is a radical variation of human locomotion, and the most important battle these dancers fight is with the limitations of gravity. Showbox, 1426 First Ave., 206-628-3151. $10, 21 and over only. 6 p.m. Sat. Sept. 10. SANDRA KURTZ

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