Beijing Modern Dance Company

Also: Brent or Brenda?, Cecile Licad, A Talking Picture, and Jeannette Walls.

SATURDAY

DANCE

BEIJING MODERN DANCE COMPANY

It wasn't so long ago that dance in China was either carefully preserved folk forms or classical ballets with socially correct scenarios. Modern dance, with its emphasis on personal expression and autonomy, is a recent addition to Chinese cultural life and has been racing madly through developments that have taken close to a century in the West. The artistic conceit of Rear Light (pictured), performed to excerpts from Pink Floyd's The Wall, is almost painfully sincere—an attempt to "reclaim humanity" in "a world without direction and aim"—but the company, drawn from the cream of Chinese dance artists, throws itself at the challenge with abandon. 8 p.m. Sat., March 12. $22–$45. Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., 206-292-ARTS. SANDRA KURTZ

THURSDAY

STAGE

BRENT OR BRENDA?

Though playwright Scot Augustson's riff on Glen or Glenda, cross-dressing director Ed Wood's 1953 cinematic plea for transvestite freedom, may not get quite enough comic highs out of the film's unintentionally hysterical lows, it's dumb fun, anyway. Nobody goes for gonzo laughs like Augustson, who manages to work in all sorts of tasteless tangents to the story of a hapless guy (Ben Laurance, pictured center) at war with his lifelong desire to feel pretty. The show was a good, goofy distraction when it premiered back in 2003, and this remount (with most of the same shameless cast) should provide comparable pleasures. Opens Thurs., March 10. 8 p.m. Thurs.–Sat. Runs through Sun., April 17. $15. Re-bar, 1114 Howell St., 206- 325-6500. STEVE WIECKING

THURSDAY

CLASSICAL

CECILE LICAD

Surely no pianist would dare tackle two of the biggest thunder-and-lightning epics of the concerto literature on the same night. Yet, that's exactly what Licad is doing with the Seattle Symphony: Tchaikovsky's imperial Concerto No. 1, followed by the piece that drove David Helfgott mad, Rachmaninoff's even vaster and more clangorous Concerto No. 3. (What'll she do for an encore? The 24 Chopin études?) Licad is a master tone colorist—it'll be fascinating to hear how she'll transform these sweeping but rather monochromatic works. Christian Knapp also conducts Rachmaninoff's The Isle of the Dead for this one-night-only performance. 7:30 p.m. Thurs., March 10. $15–$75. Benaroya Hall, Third Avenue and Union Street, 206-215-4747. GAVIN BORCHERT

FRIDAY - THURSDAY

FILM

A TALKING PICTURE

As with Godard, each new film by Manoel de Oliveira registers as a memento mori. The 2003 Picture opens with well-wishers at a pier in Lisbon, waving a long goodbye as the camera pulls away. History professor Rosa Maria (Leonor Silveira) and her young daughter Maria Joana (Filipa de Almeida, pictured together) are on a cruise to Bombay. Maintaining a brisker pace than an Angelopoulos travelogue, the tour stops off at Pompeii, the Acropolis, and the pyramids. Throughout, little Maria Joana acts as a blank, baffled slate, soaking in the contradictions of history. The final act is shocking. Oliveira unleashes the clash of civilizations that we belatedly realize has been simmering all film long. Fri., March 11–Thurs., March 17. Call for times and prices. Grand Illusion Cinema, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 206- 523-3935. DENNIS LIM

MONDAY

BOOKS

JEANNETTE WALLS

Anyone can pour out their life's misery into a memoir; not every writer manages to do so with the full force of their craft. A journalist for MSNBC and New York magazine, Walls is unsparing about her itinerant family's hardscrabble poverty in The Glass Castle (Scribner, $24). Living out of their cars (including a Cadillac named Elvis), keeping a pet coyote, or Dumpster diving, she and her three siblings do their best to cope with a flamboyant, alcoholic father and go-along mother. Anything but lurid, her recollections of such family dysfunction are sparse and unsentimental. 5 p.m. Mon., March 14. Free. Elliott Bay Book Co., 1011 S. Main St., 206- 624-6600. BRIAN MILLER

 
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