Brazil Nuts The fever pitch of soccer matches and all-night parties, the somber overtones of religious imagery, and the capricious cruelty of nature inform "The Delights of Brazil: Popular Art Today," a five-state collection of folk art from big cities and the smallest of backwaters. Spiritual devotion emerges in ex votos, carvings of hands, legs, torsos, and heads that pilgrims leave at the churches of Ceara as thanks for divine intervention in cases of disease or injury. Region-specific creations include woodblock prints documenting devastating droughts in the northeast and ephemera from the bumba meu boi festival, which Sao Luis, Maranhao, celebrates lavishly with nightly dancing in the streets; beaded, embroidered velvet pieces used in dance-dramas; cazumba masks representing a mythic creature with sharp teeth and orange hair; and the figures of dead men carrying the living. A reception for the show begins at 5 p.m. at the Craft and Folk Art Museum, Building A, Fort Mason, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is free-$5; call 775-0990.
The simple pleasure of watching bodies in motion is enough to recommend ODC/San Francisco, one of the city's longer-lived contemporary dance companies. A finely tuned crew of athletic dancers is its strength, although it promises more: The company that began as the Oberlin Dance Collective was born at a famously musical school, and its upcoming concert, "Dancing Downtown '99," reflects a sweeping range of musical styles. The breathless rough-and-tumble love triangle Scissors Paper Stone (1994) is borne along by the electrified blues of John Lee Hooker and Jimi Hendrix, while Below the Rim (1998), a second treatise on the pain of relationships, sets a sextet against a score by choreographers' pet Philip Glass. This season offers four new works as well, including Things Happen, a full-company work on unseen forces, set to a commissioned score by Raz Kennedy, formerly of Bobby McFerrin's Voicestra. "Dancing Downtown" opens at 7 p.m. (and runs through April 3) at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is $10-32; call 978-ARTS.
Let There Be Light The past and the future are coming at us with blinding force in two highly theatrical dance productions. After last year's acclaimed run, Dance Brigade veteran Kim Epifano is reviving Sonic Luminescence, an exploration of the music and writings of 12th-century German abbess Hildegard von Bingen. Medieval and modern harmonies collide in a string score, and the acrobatic partnering is shrouded by suggestions of the natural world -- bird cages, flickering candlelight, garlands of branches and dried flowers. It begins at 8 p.m. (and runs through April 4) at Dancers' Group Studio Theater, 3221 22nd St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is $13; call 824-5044. Meanwhile, the wildly visual movement troupe Kunst Stoff looks at unsullied space and the absence of color in "White Time," a barrage of media that includes Tomi Paasonen's full-length futurist dance fantasy Tube 58, a screening of short indie films curated by the Film Arts Foundation, and a gallery exhibit that expounds on the theme. It all begins at 7:30 p.m. (and runs through March 28) at Brady Street Theater, 60 Brady (at Market), S.F. Admission is $6-20; call 835-2124 or go to www.kunst-stoff.org.
Culture at a Crossroads Algerian belly dancer Amel Tafsout has used her art to help dispatch common Western misconceptions about her country (whose name is often accompanied in news reports by unsavory adjectives like "terrorist") and the women who make it their home. Arabic, African, and Mediterranean influences shape Algeria's Arabo-Berber culture; Tafsout brings us North African Maghreb dance, flavored by the ethnic, tribal, and folk dances of neighboring countries, and ritual and traditional dances from the Middle East, Africa, and Cuba. She gained her worldly perspective because she wasn't afraid to strike out on her own: She immigrated to Germany in her early 20s and formed the Pan-Arabic dance group Banat as Sahara, and has since moved to London. She'll perform here with local troupe FatChanceBellyDance, whose specialty is the American tribal-style dance, a noisy fusion of Middle Eastern Gypsy dance and American improv. The show begins at 8 p.m. at the Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez (at 23rd Street), S.F. Admission is $12-14; call 647-6035.
Lions and Chickens and Bears, Oh My Incredibly Strange Wrestling, the Mexican-style lucha libre matches at which viewers fling tortillas at flamboyantly costumed masked wrestlers, just got incredibly stranger. This particular installment is a must-see for two reasons: a killer three-band lineup, and the theme "When Animals Attack." Actually, because of the Fillmore's storied rock history, the full TV-inspired theme is "Marty Stauffer Presents 'When Animals Attack Hippies.' " The idea is that the Earth Brothers Vege & Raj think they've scored miracle tickets to see Phish until they're tossed into the ring with Macho Sasquatcho, Caesar's Lion, a bear or two, and El Pollo Diablo, a fearsome monster chicken in a pink tutu. That kind of messy, exquisite torture can only be matched by tonight's bands, beginning with Portuguese rockabilly combo the Tedio Boys, whose primitive, ghoulish repertoire has obviously been Cramped. Cape-clad crusaders Satan's Pilgrims follow up with a searing set of mostly instrumental surf and twang, and Zombie a Go-Go recording artists the Bomboras, dressed as Borneo headhunters or perhaps glow-in-the-dark skeletons, knock out whoever's left standing with trashy psycho surf and fire-starter antics. The show begins at 9 p.m. at the Fillmore, 1805 Geary (at Fillmore), S.F. Admission is $13; call 346-6000.