ThisWeek’s PickList Wednesday, March 4 Kyle Abraham Plenty of interesting dances


Wednesday, March 4

Kyle Abraham

Plenty of interesting dances aren’t about anything in particular, but they aren’t by Abraham. With his company, ABRAHAM.IN.MOTION, he’s created a body of work that examines big, controversial issues and small, human-scale ideas, usually at the same time. When the Wolves Came In focuses on two anniversaries: the 150th of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 20th of the abolishment of apartheid in South Africa, both filtered through the music of Max Roach. (Through Thurs.) The Moore, 1932 Second Ave., 877-784-4849, $35-$55. 8 p.m.


Thursday, March 5

Cheryl Strayed

If you write a bestseller that becomes the first pick for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0, and then Reese Witherspoon chooses to produce—and star in—the recent movie adaptation (and gets an Oscar nomination), is there really anything left to say? Well, yes, in fact. For a book that could seemingly be written off as yet another soul-searching female memoir in the vein of Eat, Pray, Love (and on a macro level it is just that), the 2012 Wild insists on more of an investment then many books in that ilk. Readers must commit to following a narrative path that’s sometimes as plodding, unglamorous, and unsentimental as its author’s 1,000-plus mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. Strayed’s story—catapulted by the death of her mother—is one of unvarnished breakdown as she loses her marriage, her mind and body (to drugs), and her connection to a past that shaped her into a formerly strong, centered individual. When she takes to the wilderness with her now infamous blue backpack, “The Monster,” there are no climactic detours, no quirky characters to save her, no cheap epiphanies. Instead we are alone with Strayed and her own mind, in an almost stream-of-consciousness journey, with some breaks now and then via flashbacks. Fortunately that mind is fascinating territory, as vast and unpredictable as the terrain she’s literally covering. Benaroya Hall, Third Ave. & Union St., $15-$50 (sold out). 7:30 p.m.


Mark Morris Dance Group

This most musical of choreographers is back in Seattle, with three works new to us (Jenn and Spencer, Crosswalk, and Words) and one more familiar (Pacific, also in the Pacific Northwest Ballet repertory). Few people working today are as able to show us the internal logic of a dance as Morris—his choices feel both surprising and inevitable. If you know the score (like Felix Mendelssohn’s “Songs Without Words,” to which Words is set), you’re gobsmacked at how powerfully the movement is linked to it. If the music—to be performed live by the company’s MMDG Music Ensemble—is new to you, it will be forever associated with his choreography in your memory. (Through Saturday; Morris will also give a lecture at the Kane Hall, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. Free, RSVP required via UW World Series.) Meany Hall, UW campus, 543-4880, $53-$58. 8 p.m.


Friday, March 6

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Famed for its work with Paul Simon on his 1986 album Graceland, Ladysmith Black Mambazo has a deeper history to share. Since forming in 1964, the group has performed music that incorporates the sights, sounds, and stories of life in South Africa (mostly with a religious bent inspired by founder Joseph Shabalala’s conversion to Christianity). That perspective is delivered in the impeccable harmonies that have lifted the group to international renown. Always With Us may be LBM’s most personal release yet, as it pays tribute to Shabalala’s wife, Nellie, who was murdered in 2002. In her honor, the group arranged new music around recordings Nellie made with her own choir, Women of Mambazo, before her death. The album ends on an especially poignant note with “No More Sorrow,” in which Nellie sings, like a comforting message from beyond, “I say no more crying there.” With four of his sons in tow, and via the Ladysmith Black Mambazo Foundation (which teaches South African children about traditional music), Shabalala promises to inspire future generations of musicians and fans. The Neptune, 1303 N.E. 45th St. 682-1414, $35. 8 p.m.


The Dance Cartel

Some of us used to watch Soul Train before going out to a club, hoping that we could pick up a few moves and absorb the sense of innate cool that those dancers appeared to possess. Led by Ani Taj, The Dance Cartel is a modern, equivalent link in the wired DIY world. Its “Do the Dance Cartel” videos—complete with helpful labels like “fluff arm” or “dirty roll”—are a 21st-century version of the Arthur Murray How to Dance manuals. And its touring ONTHEFLOOR production is a combination of performance and party where you can indeed “dance if you want to.” Former Seattleite Reggie Watts and local dancer/choreographer Amy O’Neal will join the party on Friday and Saturday, while Rainbow Fletcher’s new Hypernova company is the special guest on Sunday. Velocity Dance Center, 1621 12th Ave., 351-3238, $15-$25. 8:30 p.m.