Steppin' Out Anticipation rules the third annual Lesbian & Gay Dance Festival, the only fest of its kind in the United States. Its final program (Oct. 16-18) spotlights commissioned work, including former Merce Cunningham designer Remy Charlip's Arm in Arm, Jesselito Bie's sendup of circuit party culture Barebacking, and Jose Navarrate's Essay on Tangos. Not that the rest of the three-week festival doesn't hold promise: It opens with a gala featuring the Joe Goode Performance Group and ODC dancers Brian Fisher and Kevin Ware in First Contact, and offers mixed and women's programs from some of contemporary dance's brighter lights as it goes. The gala begins at 8 p.m. (the LGDF continues through Oct. 18) at Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is $12-16; call 522-8793 for a complete schedule.
Handle With Care To the heartbreaking history of Nazi-era Germany add the "Kindertransport," a program through which wealthy Jewish-German families bought exit visas from the Nazi party and smuggled their children out of Eastern Europe on trains bound for England. Their idea was to rejoin their children later, but many parents must have known that they might never see their kids again when they made the agonizing decision to send the youth to safety. British playwright Diane Samuels' drama Kindertransport, directed locally by Andrea Gordon and produced by the "Anne Frank and the World Today" exhibit, is based on the real stories of Kindertransport kids, who numbered in the thousands. Some were put to work on kibbutzim, others wound up in orphanages or foster homes, and many went on to suffer from chronic depression. Samuels' fictional protagonist, Eva Schlesinger, begins her journey as a frightened 9-year-old about to board the train, and grows into an assimilated, middle-aged Englishwoman whose past comes back to haunt her when her daughter uncovers a box of wartime photos and letters and demands the truth. The show opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through Oct. 18) at the Norse Auditorium, 275 Hayes (at Van Ness), S.F. Admission is $15; call 586-9949.
Watery Grave There's little to be done with a drunken sailor, but sailors and fishermen who've died at sea will get their due at the Italian Heritage (Columbus) Day Celebrations, which begin with La Madonna del Lume Memorial Mass and continue with a memorial at sea and candlelight procession. On Sunday, a Madonna del Lume High Mass at Saints Peter and Paul Church (666 Filbert at Columbus) is followed by a parade, a blessing of the fishing boats, and a family dinner. Pray for the dead and pass the snapper. The mass today begins at 10 a.m. at the Fishermen's and Seamen's Memorial Chapel, Pier 45, Fisherman's Wharf, S.F. Admission is free; call 989-2220 for a complete schedule of events.
Book Smart Today the written word becomes the spoken, danced, and acted word at three different literary happenings: Poets Diane di Prima, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Robert Hass, Elizabeth Woody, and scores more read at the Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival, which also offers eco-speakers and activities and begins at 10:30 a.m. in Martin Luther King Jr. Park, MLK & Center, Berkeley. Admission is free; call (510) 525-5476. Nigeria's Semeson Communication Center joins Natica Angilly's Poetic Dance Theater Company, Tuju Taksu Mask Dance Theater Company, and an international corps of moving wordsmiths at the Dancing Poetry Festival, which begins at noon at the Legion of Honor, 34th Avenue & Clement, S.F. Admission is $4-15; call (510) 235-0361. And at Cirque de Soiree, a benefit for Small Press Traffic, an all-poets cast performs Kevin Killian's play The House of Forks. Diane Middlebrook (Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton) is among the writers paying a visit, and an auction features writings and memorabilia from the likes of Gertrude Stein, Ray Bradbury, and others. The benefit begins at 4 p.m. at the New College Cultural Center, 766 Valencia (at 19th Street), S.F. Admission is $10-and-up donations; call 437-3454.
Songs in the Key of Life Those disciplined kids who persevered through white-knuckle recitals will get just as much out of How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall? as all those other kids who never learned more than "Chopsticks." Recognizing the huge role piano lessons have played in America's cultural consciousness, composer Brenda Hutchinson drove a U-Haul truck with a piano in the back 6,300 miles across the country, from New York City to San Francisco, stopping along the way to query people about their musical experiences and encouraging them to play her piano. The resulting composition will be performed live by trained pianist/composer Chris Brown and 13-year-old piano student Erica Brown, interspersed with taped music, stories, and anecdotes from Hutchinson's trip. The show starts at 2 p.m. at the Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon (at Bay), S.F. Admission is free-$9; call 563-7337.
If the Spirit Moves You One's relationship to evil, God, and the rest of the world is among the spiritual themes governing "For the Greater Glory of God," a multimedia performance by professional touring company the Boston Liturgical Dance Ensemble. Like whirling dervishes, the ensemble approaches dance as a kind of prayer, adding devotional music and classical stories like the Prodigal Son to invite viewers to meditate on the themes, which were taken from the writings of St. Ignatius of Loyola and condensed from a 30-day cycle of exercises into an evening-length piece. It's presented at 4 and 7 p.m. at St. Ignatius Church, Fulton & Parker, USF campus. Admission is free; call 422-4463.