The perfect balance

The perfect balance

After another long, sticky Charlottesville summer, it’s almost that time again. Soon there’ll be a nip in the air, football playoffs on our TV sets, and turtlenecks peeking from every closet. As the days shorten and the weather cools, the calendar gets packed with arts events that stretch from the first turning leaves all the way through the holidays. Yes, it’s a long road of entertainment options, but never fear: We’ve carefully selected various fun-filled packages to guide you toward the perfect evening: Snap up the tickets, get the accessories, munch on the food, or create a themed night all your own from our extensive calendar listings. There are events, and extras, for families, couples, rockers, theater buffs, maestros, and everyone in between. And no matter what your taste, one thing’s for sure: Summer may be ending, but cultural events in Charlottesville keep going strong.

So Soho
Perfectly chiseled, muscular dancers in practically painted-on costumes, someone balancing his feet on someone’s back who’s balancing on someone’s head who’s intertwined with someone’s torso, supported by someone’s…well, you get the idea. It’s Pilobolus, a famously weird, athletic, sexy, colorful, modern dance troupe with considerable play on the New York circuit, and they’re coming to the Paramount, the local source for big-name dance acts.
Created in 1971 by dancers and choreographers at Dartmouth College, the dance theater’s seven-person touring company creates intricate shapes and storylines through movement and held poses, with skintight, impressionistic costumes. Dance buffs and fans of the human form will marvel. The performance is October 17, and it promises to be subtle, exciting, sensual and intellectual all at the same time: A true taste of Soho right here at home.
Cap off your evening of urban chic at the trendy off-Mall bar, Kiki. Discuss the performance, and see and be seen holding one of Kiki’s fresh, juicy concoctions. We like their grapefruit basil limeade, a new take on the classic mojito. If you want to be as SoHo snooty as possible, make sure to hobnob only with people wearing expensive jeans. Give others compliments using the brand of their adorable item, such as, “I just love your Balenciaga bag/David Yurman ring/Donald J. Pliner boots!” Then go home and feel slightly guilty…and yet completely fabulous. Ciao!

Hop on Pop
When we say “pop,” we’re not talking about what color Britney dyed her hair for the Bazaar cover, or how Lindsay Lohan looked at the latest awards show (rhymes with “not good”). We’re talking “Pop,” as in contemporary culture. The UVA Art Museum is featuring an exhibit on just that subject: Complicit! Contemporary American Art and Mass Culture, with work from over 50 artists. Museum Director Jill Hartz says the program is “probably the most ambitious we’ve done in terms of the breadth of contemporary art.”
The project is a collaboration between media studies professor Johanna Drucker and the art museum, and features a slew of multimedia works. Hartz says the exhibit grapples with the passing of an avant-garde. “We’re all wrapped up in the same culture now,” Hartz says. “What you find now is that artists are critical users of contemporary culture. They can throw it back at us and show us different ways of seeing ourselves.” The museum is even marketing the show in a modern way—you can download podcasts of interviews with the artists before you hit the gallery at How contemporary! Check out the exhibit through October 29 at 155 Rugby Rd.
For even more up-to-the-minute entertainment, you could spend a weekend at the Virginia Film Festival. The theme this year is “Revelations: Finding God at the Movies.” The festival, which will add an unexpected Scandinavian flavor to its program, too (Are you there, God? It’s me, Inga) runs all weekend, October 26 through 29. A full schedule will be announced at the end of September.

On the cheap
Live Arts, known for its edgy, varied programming, has settled into its status as a community theater with real staying power—and their pay-what-you-can nights are practically an institution. So why not take advantage of the rock-bottom prices to see a play you might not normally attend? Helen, a modern adaptation of the Euripides play by Ellen McLaughlin, is contemporary enough for even the biggest classics-phobes. It’s set in a ‘60s-style hotel room in Egypt, where Helen is waiting out the Trojan War (which is being fought over a woman who just happens to be her doppelganger).
“There are very funny moments but it’s also very eloquent,” director Ronda Hewitt says. “[The playwright] brings out…the dangers of beauty-icon worship in our culture. She found Helen to be the prototype of many such Helens that we still have today.”
The show made its U.S. premiere in New York at The Joseph Papp Public Theatre in 2002, directed by Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Kushner (Angels in America).
Fans of the Euripides’ version of Helen’s story will get a surprise ending, and all audiences should pick up on the play’s anti-war themes. Helen is playing October 6-28, with pay-what-you-can nights on October 11, 18 and 25.
When the play lets out, grab a cheap bite on the Mall. Miller’s sells gargantuan, reasonably priced burgers with mountains of fries for around $8. Dumplings from Marco & Luca are always a steal at $2.50 for six (plus a bonus dumpling!). Whatever you choose, you’ll go home satisfied (and edified) for very little scratch.

How clever
The Charlottesville Chamber Music Festival, now in its seventh year, has offered a refreshing shift from the large symphonic works and solo-based performances that usually get play in the local classical scene. It’s also a way to inspire respect among coworkers when you tell them about your culturally stimulating weekend.
The fourth concert in this year’s series features Haydn’s Piano Trio in F# minor, H. 26, Johannes Brahms’ Piano Quintet in F Minor, Op. 34 and two works by 20th century English composer Benjamin Britten: Six Metamorphoses after Ovid, Op. 49 and Phantasy for Oboe and String Trio, Op. 2. One of the festival’s artistic directors, Timothy Summers, says, “There’s kind of an undercurrent of this seriousness and not-seriousness… Haydn, on the one hand, tends to be very humorous, but on the other hand it’s very singular—it just jokes with itself. … The same goes for Brahms, although in very different and thicker ways. Those two have a sort of academic cast to them.” Britten, a modern composer, “has a kind of academic simplicity about him,” Summers says. “There’s a bookishness, though it takes a very different direction from Brahms.”
And that, of course, is exactly why we highlighted this concert! (Actually, the fact that this performance will be Mozart-free had something to do with it, as well. The composer’s 250th birthday last year saw more “Mozart’s Greatest Hits” concerts than you could shake a baton at, and it quickly became tiresome.) The Chamber Music Festival runs various dates through September 24. See Brahms, Haydn and Britten performed September 21.
To end a perfectly erudite evening, try the delicacy in town that’s most likely to outsmart you: fondue at The Melting Pot on Water Street. The cheese appetizer course is easy enough to figure out, but when the entrée arrives—raw meat and batter you’re supposed to cook yourself in a pot of hot oil—even the hungriest intellectuals can falter. Is it batter first, then sizzle? Cook, then batter, then re-dip? How in the world not to end up with raw steak and burnt-to-a-crisp dough? Frankly, analyzing secondary dominants in Brahms’ piano quintet while checkmating someone in chess is easier. But if you do succeed, it’s mmm…cerebral!

For the juice box and string cheese crowd
Facing fall with a pack of youngsters on your hip (and at your ankles) can be a little depressing—or so we’re told. As summer fades, chilly winds whip through the backyard, popsicles are no longer an effective babysitting tool, and parents can go a little stir-crazy. Here’s an entertainment event that will have stars in the kiddies’ eyes all evening (enough to make them fall asleep in the car on the way home): Disney on Ice at the new John Paul Jones Arena. The “100 Years of Magic” show features classic Disney characters like Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy. Kids ages 2-10 will be especially thrilled, but it should offer choreography and sparkle even big kids can enjoy. Tickets are reasonably priced to boot ($12-32). Make sure you troubleshoot possible parking problems near the arena, (there are only about 1,500 on-site parking spots for the John’s 15,000 seats), and Disney on Ice could be the smoothest evening-out-with-the-fam in a while. Skate on in Wednesday, October 18 through Sunday, October 22.
After their once-upon-a-dream slumber, expect the little sugarplums to wake up with visions of skating lessons in their heads. Well, you’re in luck: they’re offered at the Charlottesville Ice Park in six-week sessions, which began just last week. Skaters can learn crossovers, twists, beginning wiggles and (our favorite) falling down and getting up.

So indie, we’re outie
Now, it’s debatable whether the word “indie” even earns any cred anymore, since it seems impossible to always stay one step ahead of the scenester curve. But, we dredged the C-VILLE character stockpile for our very indiest, and we’ve got it on good authority that all the cats flock to Satellite Ballroom for their increasingly impressive lineup of bands. And the Cursive show (with The Cops and a second opener TBA) is high among the acts worth checking out this fall.
Cursive is signed with indie label Saddle Creek, the record company of Bright Eyes’ semi-fame. If the Conor Oberst link isn’t enough, Cursive has an appealing, categorically emo sound, but with a harder edge—their last disc, Ugly Organ, fueled a wildly successful tour four years ago. The new album follows in Cursive’s typical footsteps, with meta, self-reflective lyrics, tricky rhythms and reverb-laden guitars. Check them out November 16.
Of course, you can’t roll up to a Satellite show wearing just anything. Get yourself to The Spectacle Shop downtown for the right frames. Choose hipster glasses to suit your face shape (remember—square, black hornrims flatter everyone). To be truly unique, you can design your own Chucks (as in Converse All-Stars) online at for around $60. For the perfect wear-to-the-concert t-shirt, true indie scenesters hit Goodwill and Salvation Army several times a week to scour for the perfect specimen, circa 1984. You can also order great t-shirts from local entrepreneur David Murray at His Asian-inspired designs, in all kinds of shiny happy colors, are sure to help you blend in by standing out. Or, for instant gratification, you can always try Antics or Industry, which are both just off the Mall. But whatever you do, don’t wear a Cursive shirt to the Cursive show. It’s simply not done.

Black tie bonanza
When you hear the name Itzhak Perlman, the same superlatives invariably come to mind: renowned violinist, Emmy and Grammy Award-winner, one of the most recognized virtuosos of our time. Stick him on the Paramount stage at their fundraising gala, and only one word comes to our minds: splurge!
Yes, tickets to the event are $250 for the good seats and $50 for the nosebleeds. Here’s why it’s worth it.
Perlman studied first at the Academy of Music in Tel Aviv, then came to New York, where he studied at The Juilliard School. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1963, and won the prestigious Leventritt Competition in 1964. He has served as musical ambassador to countries like Poland and the Soviet Union with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. He’s also won acclaim nationally as a symphony conductor in cities like Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Detroit.
Perlman is the latest in a string of world-class musicians that are hitting the Paramount’s glitzy stage. “The word is out there on the touring circuit that this is a good place to play,” Paramount CEO Chad Hershner says. How flattering to think that “Charlottesville, Virginia” is getting whispered backstage among the hotshots at Carnegie Hall and the Philharmonic.
O.K., so tickets aren’t cheap. But hey, it’s Itzhak Perlman! So shell out, sit down, and enjoy, ‘cause you know you spent $100 to sit 300 rows away from the Rolling Stones when they came to town.
Now for the perfect end to the evening: nothing! Though such lush entertainment usually ends with a nightcap, we think you’ve dropped enough cash for one night. So go home, have a domestic beer and let the music ring in your ears. After all, the concert memories may be priceless, but your wallet needs time to heal.

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