When Chickens Fly Butoh founder Tatsumi Hijikata's art was shaped by the devastation wrought by the atomic bombs America dropped on his native Japan. The performance companies that followed his lead have given audiences a revolutionary kind of dance in succeeding years, one that forgoes the theatrical excess of kabuki in favor of stripped-down movement and sets reflecting the natural world and the darker side of its human inhabitants. Tokyo-based Buto-Sha Tenkei ("Chickens in the Sky") plunge into movement at a pace some butoh fans may find surprising, but in their work for five dancers, Nocturne, the company reveals Hijikata's influence as it explores the shadowy realm of dreams. The show opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through Feb. 9) at Theater Artaud, 450 Florida, S.F. Admission is $12.50-20; call 621-7797.
In the Juggler Vein It takes balls to do what Frank Olivier does best, which is juggling, as well as riding a unicycle, sans costume, while playing a flaming guitar. Like many professionals, Olivier went to school to study his craft: At Ringling Bros. Clown College, he polished his physical comedy, magic, and dance skills, which he put to good use in Mickey Rooney's Broadway show Sugar Babies. Olivier, the first variety artist to be nominated for a Helen Hayes Award, presents Hold That Thought, his first local theater show in five years. It's a comic comment on meditation, featuring vaudeville routines like the short-legged "Swami Bawoni" and "Meditation Rap." The show opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through Feb. 9) at Venue 9, 252 Ninth St., 626-2169. Admission is $10-12; call 626-2169.
Sophie's Choice Former Chronicle reporter Sophie Treadwell, the first journalist ever to interview Pancho Villa, distinguished herself among playwrights as well as newspaper types in her day. Her canon includes the drama Machinal, which was written at the height of the Roaring '20s and which turns a critical eye on the giddiness of that era in its portrayal of a young woman struggling to free herself from a dead-end existence. Michelle Morain (seen most recently in The Rose Tattoo and The Cherry Orchard) takes the lead in American Conservatory Theater's production of Machinal, which opens with a preview at 8 p.m. (and runs through March 9) at the Geary Theater, 415 Geary, S.F. Admission is $7-47.50; call 749-2228.
Reality Check In Colored Children Flyin' By, choreographer David Rousseve blends the tales of his Creole grandmother with urban folklore; in Pop Dreams and Whispers of Angels, Rousseve invokes an abusive father and a dying man's quest for love. Storytelling brings a captivating immediacy to Rousseve's work, where modern issues -- AIDS, racism, rape -- are scrambled with stories and dreams from his youth and laid out in fluid passes, gender-bent partnering, and hip-hop flourishes (just as the music he chooses runs the gamut from Nina Simone to Public Enemy to Me'Shell Ndegeocello). Rousseve and his dance company, REALITY, stage excerpts of these full-length works alongside the West Coast premieres of Love Stories and Dry Each Other's Tears in the Stillness of the Night at 8 p.m. (continuing through Feb. 9) at the Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard, S.F. Admission is $18-24; call 392-4400.
A Cure for Cabin Fever A respite from all kinds of dreariness arrives with the Cinematheque winter film schedule, where viewers can get their kicks vicariously with Leslie Asako Gladsjo's films, in which robotics gurus Stelarc and Survival Research Laboratories torch their surroundings and body piercer Raelyn Gallina muses on her profession ("Stigmata & Pandemonium," Feb. 23). Other highlights include "The Asian-American Film Festival: Experimental Shorts" (March 6-13) and "Woman/Body/Function: Five Films About Female Stuff" (March 8). Programs run Thursdays at Center for the Arts and Saturdays and Sundays at the San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut. The first installment, "From the Bay and Beyond: New Films I," screens at 7:30 p.m. at Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, S.F. Admission is $3-6; call 558-8129 for schedule information.
Tribal Vibe International folk and ethnic art dealers will be showing and selling their stuff at the Tribal, Folk, and Textile Arts Show, which specializes in pre-1940s art including Native American pottery, baskets, and jewelry, African masks, beadwork, and sculpture, Columbian pottery and textiles, Mexican and South American santo (holy) art, and Asian sculpture and carvings. The show opens at 5:30 p.m. with a preview and live and silent auctions benefiting the S.F. Craft and Folk Art Museum. Show days begin at 9 a.m. with an optional pre-show tour ($12) and runs from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday at the Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason Center, S.F. Admission is $8 for a two-day pass, $40-50 for a Friday evening benefit preview; call 775-0991.
Eastern Bloc Comes to Your Block The borscht and blini with caviar and the generous array of flavored vodkas will provide much-needed fortification after guests at the Russian Festival 1997 have worn themselves out taking in Russian folk dancing and singing demonstrations, as well as exhibits of lacquer boxes and Pysanki eggs. Just steppes away, the Croatian Poklada festival celebrates that country's culture with performances by the Vela Luka Croatian Dance Ensemble of Anacortes and the Ruze Dalmatinke Tamburitza Orchestra, and snacks and beverages, Croatian-style. The Russian Festival begins at 5 p.m. (and runs through Feb. 9) at the Russian Center, 2450 Sutter, S.F. Admission is free-$8; call 921-7631 for more information. The Poklada Festival begins at 4 p.m. at the Slavonic Cultural Center, 60 Onondaga, S.F. Admission is free-$12; call 592-1190.
Lab Work Versatility infuses the LAB, Projekt Group-USA, a cadre of technically diverse dancers led by choreographer Enrico Labayen, a former dancer with Alvin Ailey, Eglevsky Ballet, and Alonzo King's LINES Contemporary Ballet. Keep in mind that the LAB, which has played stages from Germany to Manila, the Philippines, is working from a broad range of experiences in "Arias and Other Dances," which features a contemporary ballet set to Handel arias, Puirt a Beul, a theatrical piece with a Gaelic score, and Surveillance, a work about paranoia and schizophrenia. The concert begins at 8 p.m. (and runs through Feb. 9) at Brady Street Dance Center, 60 Brady, S.F. Admission is $10-15; call 267-7613.
We'll Have What They're Having Viewers play fly-on-the-wall at Guy Overfelt's new installation "Four Real Walls," a long dining table at which the artist served "members of the Bay Area cultural elite" dinner just days before the opening. The dinner party was miked and photos were taken: Viewers are left with recorded snatches of conversation and the clink of cutlery against china, a table littered with the photos and the empty dishes, and maybe a new sense of the dynamics between artists and patrons. The show opens with a reception at 7 p.m. (and runs through March 8) at Four Walls, 3160 16th St., S.F. Admission is free; call 626-8515.
Not-So-Harmonic Convergence The ripple effect in Brad Fraser's comic drama Poor Super Man begins when a gay painter takes a job as a waiter at a young married couple's restaurant. The husband and the painter begin an affair that not only affects the marriage, but the painter's relationship with his transsexual roommate and a columnist friend. The show enjoyed successful runs in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, although it ran into a few hitches in Cincinnati after someone alerted the city vice squad to the play's frontal nudity and simulated sex acts. Kaliyuga Arts, which presents the show, welcomes controversial work; their production of Beauty, based on the prison writings of Jean Genet, enjoyed sold-out shows locally and on tour. Poor Super Man opens at 8 p.m. (and continues through March 16) at the SOMAR Theater, 934 Brannan, S.F. Admission is $8; call 431-8423.
Happy New Year, Again New Year season continues with Tibet's lunar new year, called Losar, and celebrated for up to two weeks in Tibetan villages. The party only lasts for a day locally, as Chaksam-Pa Tibetan Dance and Opera Company performs songs, dances, and a ceremonial offering in which audiences are invited to participate. The event begins at 2 p.m. at the Asian Art Museum's Gruhn Court, Golden Gate Park, S.F. Admission is free with museum admission (free-$6); call 379-8879.
Reel Wheels Don't even think about driving to the Second Annual Bicycle Film and Video Festival, which focuses on bicycles and transportation with an international selection of films and film shorts including Taken for a Ride, a documentary on the auto industry, and Velorution, a look at how bicycles have transformed Cuba's urban landscapes and provided a solution to the lack of oil. Refreshments will be served and an auction of bike-related items will be held in the evening. The event begins at 3 p.m. at La Pena Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck, Berkeley. Admission is $3-5; call (510) 704-5599.
Our Stoli Father Father Guido Sarducci (aka Don Novello) reprises his SNL role when he plays host at the Second Annual Stoli Arts Achievement Awards, which honors 12 local trailblazing artists. Presenters include comedian Will Durst and poet Thom Gunn; flamenco dancer La Tania, vocal ensemble SoVoSo, and Beach Blanket Babylon cast members will perform. The event, a benefit for the San Francisco Unified Schools Visual and Performing Arts Department, begins at 7 p.m. at the Cowell Theater, Fort Mason, S.F. Admission is $50-60; call 392-4400.
Nile Style A suq, or tented outdoor marketplace of the kind found in Egypt, will be approximated locally at the Bay Area's first Egyptian Product Expo and Cultural Fair this week. Commercial and cultural exports meet under this tent, where one of the country's main industries -- tourism -- most certainly will be promoted. Chocolates, spices, carpets, furniture, and leather are among the goods to be shown and sold, while Egyptian music and dance performances, cultural activities, and food tastings take place. The fair begins at 9 a.m. (and runs through Feb. 13) at the Concourse Exhibition Center's East Hall, 620 Seventh St., S.F. Admission is free; call 436-0633.
Know Your 'Wrights Santos y Santos was the play that cemented Octavio Solis' reputation in theatrical circles, but at the Intersection for the Arts "New Work/New Voices" series, listeners will get a more complete sense of the young playwright's voice and style as he reads from a body of his work. Solis will be joined by Jorge Cortinas, a journalist and poet, at 8 p.m. at Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia, S.F. Admission is $5-7; call 626-2787.