In 1967, Charlotte Moorman was arrested in a high-profile public indecency case. By today's standards, the infraction was minor: She had appeared onstage topless while playing her cello. For some of you, that information will be enough to spark a lifelong obsession with Moorman, and that would be wonderful. But at the time it was a terrible scandal. It wasn't her first or last extreme act in conjunction with her instrument, either. She worked with other artists to have herself suspended from helium balloons while playing her composition Sky Kiss; devised an act, called Flying Cello, in which she and the cello swung on separate trapezes; and was covered in chocolate while playing on a patch of Astroturf in The Ultimate Easter Bunny. This strange, brave, and, according to many, brilliant woman is Joan Jeanrenaud's role model.
For 20 years part of the acclaimed Kronos Quartet, Jeanrenaud split in 1999 from the foursome, known widely as the Beatles of chamber music, to do things like reconfigure Moorman's Ice Music for London. In this ambitious performance, a cello was created from ice to the exact specifications of Jeanrenaud's famous 250-year-old Venetian instrument, only to be played, and destroyed, with barbed wire, sandpaper, and a pitchfork. This version, renamed Ice Cello, has been performed only three times, once in San Francisco in 2001. On Thursday, Jeanrenaud comes back to the city with a new piece.
Inbetween is her latest project and her second multimedia collaborative effort, the first being the well-received Metamorphosis. For this production, she has teamed with artist Tom Bonauro, known and respected for his graphics work with ultra-cool people like Todd Oldham and Gus Van Sant, and for his set designs for choreographer Margaret Jenkins. In a minimalist mood, Bonauro has prepared a steady snowfall that continues throughout the evening, a 35mm-to-video installation, and a huge translucent panel to frame Jeanrenaud's performance. The first concert begins tonight (the show continues through Saturday) at 8 p.m. at the Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th St. (at York), S.F. Admission is $25; call 647-2822 or visit www.brava.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Complex and Satisfying
Night of the Living Flamenco
Let's get one thing straight: The term "fiery" doesn't automatically apply to flamenco, despite the tendency to treat the two words as inevitable dance partners. There's more to flamenco than smoldering gazes. Madrid's Noche Flamenca brings us a fully realized flamenco, its Gypsy roots revealed in the percussive counterrhythms created among dancers, musicians, and singers. Audiences who expect passion shouldn't be disappointed -- the company was founded by Martin Santangelo, a one-time member of San Juan Bautista's Teatro Campesino, whose flamenco apprenticeship led him to his wife, company co-founder and star performer Soledad Barrio. But their tightly knit troupe delves into sorrow and loneliness as well as eroticism, the dancers' sinuous arms and footwork tattoo set against haunting musical refrains, with the kind of raw soul that sends shivers up the spine. Noche Flamenca performances begin at 8 p.m. at the Zellerbach Playhouse, Bancroft & Telegraph, Berkeley. Admission is $30-40; call (510) 642-9988.
-- Heather Wisner
Set the night on fire with Flam Chen
Smokey Bear would frown upon the exploits of pyrotechnic theater troupe Flam Chen. The acrobats and entertainers in the Tucson-based group were surely cautioned as kids against playing with fire, but fortunately for us, they didn't heed those warnings. Not only flame-throwers and fire dancers, Flam Chen also includes storytellers who share their tales through spectacles of fire and light.
Flam Chen illuminates the night sky with its classic outdoor show, Ling Ling, an apocalyptic vision of whirling Balinese fire chains, blazing swords, fire-eaters, and costumed figures flying high above the audience on trapezes and bungees. Just about everything -- costumes, sculptures, and sets -- is ignited over the course of the evening, so bring a picnic, enjoy the setting sun, and ignore the smell of kerosene. Performances start at 9 p.m. or when darkness falls (whichever comes first) at Warm Water Cove Beach, located at the terminus of 24th Street (off Third Street), S.F. Admission is $10-20; call 307-3482 or visit www.qbox.org.
-- Lisa Hom
Put Your Hands on Your Hips
The folks at Artists' Television Access admit freely that they don't know what to expect from their first-ever screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Will people arrive properly attired? How many virgins (first-timer viewers) will there be? The 1975 cult film hit concerns two innocent teens who are led through one freaky adventure after another by the iconic "sweet transvestite" Dr. Frank-N-Furter. But the plot, as with so many excellent productions, is hardly noticeable: Rocky Horror is a musical, complete with outrageous costumes and a generally bad attitude, spouting dance numbers, glitter, and raunch from every orifice. The screening begins at 10 p.m. at ATA, 992 Valencia, S.F. Admission is $5, or $3 for those in costume; call 824-3890.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser