Face it: Being a kid isn't always easy. The years between diapers and graduation are loaded with challenges and growing pains. It can be a rough road – but maybe some exuberant dancing will help. With this in mind, four of the Bay Area's long-standing companies join forces for Youth Fest, two days of you-can-do-it, exhilarating performances from young people of various backgrounds and perspectives, who combine choreography, technique, movement, stamina, strength, and storytelling in hopes of helping fellow teens and 'tweens gain an appreciation of the arts.
Participating troupes include the ODC Dance Jam (11 dancers ages 12 and 13 who perform ethereal ballet and modern pieces), students from the Chhandam School of Kathak Dance (who live up to the meaning of kathak – to tell stories – with their classical Northern Indian performances), and the Zaccho Youth Company (which emphasizes aerial flight and suspension), as well as fledgling percussionists from Gen Taiko (who practice the ancient, aerobic Japanese art of rhythm). Youth Fest takes off starting at 2 and 7 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday at ODC Theater, 3153 17th St. (at Shotwell), S.F. Admission is $12; call 863-9834 or visit www.odctheater.org.
– Charyn Pfeuffer
Take your baby out dancing
If that around-the-world plane ticket you've been yearning for still feels like a dream, there's a cheaper way to get from Hawaii to Bolivia this month, and you can skip the jet lag. Now in its 10th year, People Like Me – an ethnically diverse dance and music performance for kids – is ready to teach you a thing or two about South African gumboot, North Indian kathak, and Bolivian harvest styles. In this fanciful sojourn, a mysterious traveler introduces audiences to some international varieties of hoofing it (performed by hot local companies like Chitresh Das Dance Company and Yaelisa and Caminos Flamencos), and also explores the theme of time by considering ideas big and small – clocks, seasons, life cycles, and continental shift. See it starting at 7 p.m. at the Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness (at Grove), S.F. Tickets are $6-12; call 392-4400 or visit www.worldartswest.org.
– Karen Macklin
C'mon Get Happy
The Randall Museum's ode to joy
Kids get a lot of instructions: Stay quiet, obey your parents, don't run in the hallways. But somehow "Be happy" seldom makes the list. The Randall Museum evens the score with "Reflections 2004: I Am Really Happy When ...," an exhibit of visual artworks created by K-12 schoolkids expressing what thrills them. Video games? Half-price sales at Hot Topic? Blowing bubbles in chocolate milk? Such are the pleasures of youth, expressed in the photographs, drawings, and paintings that make up "Reflections."
Meet the artists at the opening ceremony, which starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday (the show runs through April 21) at 199 Museum (at Roosevelt), S.F. Admission is free; call 554-9600 or visit www.randallmuseum.org.
– Joyce Slaton
Plenty of you in parent-land already know and love Music in Schools Today, but are you aware that the group recently launched a new program, "Milk, Cookies and Jazz"? The series features professional musicians teaching kids how to make a mellifluous ruckus. The next episode stars pianist Dee Spencer and begins at 2 p.m. at Club Jazz Nouveau, 2801 Leavenworth (at Beach), S.F. Admission is free; call 921-2100 or visit www.mustcreate.org.
– Hiya Swanhuyser