Night + Day

Bali Nigh Gamelan Sekar Jaya, the local Balinese music and dance troupe that continues to pop up in everything from Balinese shadow-puppetry productions to modern dance showcases to the Ramayana epic with an Indian company, has given Bay Area viewers a taste of the Balinese aesthetic. Anyone who's ever wanted more should plan to see Dancers and Musicians of Bali, a 35-member company that recruits the best performers from all over the island. As the orchestra hammers out a tuneful score on chimes, xylophone, gongs, and drums, the dancers (clad in vivid silks and brocades, and wearing elaborate headdresses) tell ancient stories of love and valor through delicately stylized hand movements, an evocative gestural language, and dramatic facial expressions. The ritual trance dance kecak, or "monkey dance," used to purify villages in times of danger, is a treat. The show begins at 8 p.m. at the Marin Center, North San Pedro, San Rafael. Admission is $20-25; call 472-3500.

February 20
The Simple Twist of Fete The masked intrigue of Carnival, circa 1564, inspires "Fete at Fontainebleau," a scrupulous re-creation of the lavish masquerade ball staged at the French court where royals spent their days hunting and their nights soaking up a little culture. NOVAntigua dance ensemble director Mark Franko weaves Renaissance ballet and country dances with a soupçon of contemporary movement, performed by company members and UC dancers. Renaissance violin band the King's Noyse, meanwhile, reconstructs and performs the music of the day on period instruments, aided by soprano Ellen Hargis and 30 instrumentalists and singers from UC's music department. The show begins at 8 p.m. in the International House Auditorium, 2299 Piedmont (at Bancroft), Berkeley. Admission is $2-8; call (510) 642-9460.

February 21
Tenor of the Times Unless you're an opera buff or a Holocaust scholar, you may not have heard of Joseph Schmidt. The diminutive Jewish-Romanian tenor began his brief but widely heralded musical career just after the turn of the century as a cantor in the local synagogue. Schmidt's career took off in earnest after he was engaged to sing the role of Vasco da Gama in a German radio broadcast of L'Africaine, and though his short stature precluded him from taking starring roles, his many recordings and concert performances throughout Europe and at Carnegie Hall endeared him to English- and German-speaking audiences. His popularity couldn't save him from the Nazis, however, and in a story worthy of its own opera, he fled from Austria to Belgium to France, and finally to Switzerland, where he fell ill and died at age 38 after being interned in a work camp. Soprano Ellen Kerrigan, a former guest artist with the San Francisco Opera, performs solo at "A Gala Concert in Memory of Joseph Schmidt," where she and cantors Kenneth Koransky and Martin Feldman will sing operatic solos and liturgical music with a professional choir. Historian John Thomas speaks at the concert, which begins at 3 p.m. at Congregation Sherith Israel, 2266 California (at Webster), S.F. Admission is $10; call 346-1720.

February 22
Mob Rules On Nov. 3, 1979, civil rights activists armed with a city marching permit rallied in Greensboro, N.C., to protest the Ku Klux Klan. The rally was interrupted when pickup trucks full of American Nazis and KKK members arrived and opened fire on the group, killing five. Evidence of the incident may be found in a terse commemorative plaque bolted to a tree trunk in the Morningside-Lincoln Grove neighborhood where it happened, and in Emily Mann's play Greensboro: A Requiem. Like Anna Deavere Smith's Fires in the Mirror, Requiem is comprised of interviews with people who were there or were directly affected by the incident, including survivors, Klansmen, Nazis, and bystanders. Unconditional Theater plans to stage a full production of the play later this year, the first since it debuted in New Jersey, but John Warren will direct a staged reading of the work at 7:30 p.m. at the Eureka Theater, 215 Jackson (at Battery), S.F. Admission is a $10 donation; call 788-SHOW.

February 23
Zoom Lens Documentary filmmaker Debra Chasnoff is hugely unpopular with hundreds of people. GE security chased her around Schenectady, N.Y., while she was filming the nuclear power plant documentary Deadly Deception: General Electric, Nuclear Weapons, and Our Environment, and when she won a 1991 Academy Award for the film, her acceptance speech thanking "life partner" Helen Cohen and urging a boycott of GE didn't sit well with many of the show's millions of viewers (after the broadcast, General Electric sent out a memo instructing its employees to ignore her). But as Chasnoff herself has described it, power-plant goons were a piece of cake compared with the religious leaders, parents, and educators who opposed the filming, and later, the screening, of It's Elementary: Talking About Gay Issues in School. Chasnoff and co-producer Cohen, lesbian parents of a school-age son themselves, hoped to film teachers across the country presenting lessons on gay issues, but community pressure was so intense that the directors could find only six schools willing to participate. The film itself is a fascinating glimpse of lively teacher-guided debates among kids about topics like having a gay relative, set against the contentious national debate on gay and lesbian civil rights. Chasnoff will screen and discuss both films at 6 p.m. at Media Alliance, 814 Mission (at Fourth Street), Suite 205, S.F. Admission is free; call 546-6334, ext. 310.

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