Dance Through Time Helgi Thomasson and Arthur Mitchell owe a debt to the late choreographer George Balanchine; audiences will be privy to the payoff as Thomasson's San Francisco Ballet and Mitchell's Dance Theater of Harlem stage all-Balanchine programs. SFB does Agon and other Balanchine pieces later this season under the able direction of Thomasson, who danced for Balanchine's New York City Ballet from the late '60s until the mid-'80s. Mitchell, New York City Ballet's first full-time black dancer, left the company shortly before Thomasson joined to found Dance Theater of Harlem. His company, known for its dazzling execution of several Balanchine works and stellar dancing overall, arrives in Berkeley with Serenade, The Four Temperaments, and The Prodigal Son on Program 2, which gives viewers a chance to compare new interpretation of old work. Program 1, meanwhile, is mostly new work: Adrian (Angel on Earth), the final piece in a trilogy about an epic journey, and Sasanka (Pride 1997), created by 25-year-old South African choreographer Vincent Sekwati Mantsoe, as well as Jose Limon's masterwork The Moor's Pavane. Tonight's performance begins at 8 p.m. (with shows continuing through Sunday) at Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft & Telegraph, UC Berkeley campus. Admission is $18-40; call (510) 642-9988.
The Good Fight Which is harder: doing Napoleon in disco drag and turning a Greek tragedy about matricide into a musical comedy, or proving that you can do serious drama with that kind of track record? That's the question facing playwright John Fisher, who follows up his very funny hit show Medea, the Musical with Combat! An American Melodrama, a sobering piece about gay and lesbian military personnel serving during World War II. Combat!, which travels from boot camps and drag queen balls to battlefields, beachheads, and psych wards, is laced with black humor, but Fisher, a dramatic arts doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley, based his story on six years of extensive research into the experiences of gay and lesbian enlistees, which turned up some distinctly unpleasant incidents. The 1996 Berkeley premiere of Combat! nonetheless met with enthusiastic critical acclaim, and the show will open locally with a preview at 8 p.m. (and run through March 14) at the Victoria Theater, 2961 16th St. (at Capp), S.F. Admission is $15-24; call 621-7797.
Big Wheel Skateboarding has been part of photographer Tobin Yelland's life for so long that his pictures document every last aspect of its culture, from the broad shot of kids drying off a wet half-pipe by lighting it on fire to a close-up of one guy's scraped chin and busted lip. Yelland, a skateboarder himself, began taking pictures of his friends when he was just 14; now that he's in his late 20s, he has amassed a considerable body of work, independently and on assignment for Spin and Paper. Yelland doesn't just do skate shots -- his photos of Hell's Angels and cops hung in New York's White Columns gallery, and he just finished working as a still photographer on Another Day in Paradise, the new film by his teacher, Larry Clark, who put the skateboarders Yelland introduced him to in his movie Kids -- but skateboarding-related candid shots dominate the exhibit "Tobin Yelland: Skateboarders," which opens with a reception at 7 p.m. at ESP Gallery, 305 Valencia (at 14th Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 252-8191.
Ain't Love Grand? Actor Bruce Pachtman knew the party was over when his soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend's parting words were "Don't make me look too psychotic." Too late, Pachtman might have countered; unlike most people who merely complain to their friends about psycho ex-lovers, Pachtman had already written a one-man comedy show loosely based on his experiences with one, and called it Don't Make Me Look Too Psychotic. The piece, in which he plays several characters and struggles to make himself look sane in the process, shows at "2 Out of 3," a collection of three one-man comedy shows with variations on a love theme. Stand-up comedian Fred Raker, a former writer for The Tonight Show, contributes It Could Have Been a Wonderful Life, about a young comedian who learns to love himself through John Bradshaw seminars, a guardian angel, and the love of his wife. And finally, a scrawny kid from the wrong side of the tracks confronts his hard-drinking stepdad and a 230-pound fullback in his pursuit of the high school homecoming princess in writer/performer Randy Rutherford's I Left My Heart in Weaverville, which played last year's Fringe Festival. The show begins at 8 p.m. (and continues through Feb. 14) at Venue 9, 252 Ninth St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $10; call 626-2169.
Book Smart The leaking Concourse Exhibition Center roof wasn't such a big deal at last month's hot rod show, despite torrential rains and expensive customized cars, but the San Francisco Antiquarian Book, Print, and Paper Fair had better pray for clear skies or a good patching job before its vendors have settled in. Dealers from the United States, Canada, and Europe traffic in thousands of old and rare books, prints, and maps dating as far back as the 14th century. Collectors can also scope out first editions and a juicy selection of vintage pulp fiction, food and wine books, children's books, photography tomes, and more. The fair begins at 10 a.m. (also Sunday) at the San Francisco Concourse Exhibition Center, Seventh & Brannan streets, S.F. Admission is $5; call 441-4290.
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