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Artscape: Your Weekly Arts Calendar 

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Not Dead Yet City Xpressions, Saturday, August 23

You can't find it on the radio or in the suburbs, but if you don't have the curfew or knowledge to find true hip-hop, you can get it safely and on schedule by heading down to the West Side Market this Saturday and crossing West 25th Street. What started as a graffiti festival in Ohio City has become a celebration of multiple urban cultural elements. With a graffiti competition, B-boy and B-girl contests, MC battles and more, Cleveland Public Art's City Xpressions sets Market Square alive with all the elements of hip-hop culture. This year the emphasis is on local talent, with Q-Nice hosting the MC battle and Dre Live of the Illstyle Rockers crew doing the honors for B-boy and B-girl battles. It's from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Market Square Park in Ohio City. To register for battles, call 216.621.5330. - Michael Gill

SPARX IN THE CITY

Many musicians know the urge to play more than one thing at once. If you've got the melody, you want the rhythm. If you've got melody and rhythm, you want harmony. Hal Walker succumbed to those urges and plays a whole bunch of instruments, including but not limited to piano, guitar, voice, harmonica, khaen and Jew's harp. The music director of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent takes it to the street from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. as part of Sparx in the City's Thursday evening series on East Fourth Street. Also performing this week are acoustic guitarist Bobby Williams and flamenco guitar and dance duo Mike McNamara and Amy Compton. Admission is free. - Gill

VERB Ballets

Hernando Cortez and company continue their conquest of Northeast Ohio outdoor venues this weekend with an appearance in Tremont. The program is a broad sampling of the company's styles and Cleveland's balletic heritage. Local dance history is honored with two works: "Laura's Women," created by the late Ian Horvath for the Cleveland Ballet in 1974, is a blues for women living in poverty and loneliness, inspired by the singer Laura Nyro; and "Andante Sostenuto," a romantic duet choreographed by Ohio Ballet founder Heinz Poll to the second movement of Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto No. 2, restaged for Verb Ballets by former Ohio Ballet dancer Richard Dickinson.ÊCortez has three of his own works on the program. One, "Chichester Psalms," is a revival set to Leonard Bernstein's music of the same name. Cortez's other works, both new this summer, bring mega-doses of humor and exuberance. "Mondo Jumbo" is an exploration of African, West Indian, Chinese and Caribbean dance, accompanied by music from the University of Akron's Steel Drum Band. The other, "Ski-Du," is all about what a dancer can do with feet strapped into a clumsifying pair of downhill skis. Performances are at 8:15 p.m. Friday and Saturday in Lincoln Park. Come early, and bring your blanket. Admission is free. - Gill

American Peer

If Henrik Ibsen's Peer Gynt is about discovering and being true to oneself, adapting it for 21st-century Cleveland has some interesting implications - depending, of course, on where the author looks for his anti-hero's identity and who, exactly, the Troll King is. Could his name be Jimmy Dimora? Passport Project and TystArt team up Friday to present a staged reading of David M. Benson's adaptation of the drama in verse, "American Peer," directed by Ellen Summers. There's one performance only, at 7 p.m. Friday at Passport Project, 12801 Buckeye Rd. A $10 donation is suggested. Call 216.721.1055 - Gill

Blossom Festival Orchestra

Jamie Bernstein inherited a lot from her father, the composer Leonard Bernstein. The obvious thing is his music. But just as important, she has his enthusiasm for teaching and sharing - not just her father's work, but music in general. She's developed several concert programs for young people and a series, The Bernstein Beat, which is modeled after her father's Young People's concerts. She's also something of a regular on the radio, hosting several seasons of the New York Philharmonic's live national radio broadcasts, as well as a series for the New York classical station WQXR 96.3-FM. At 7 p.m. Sunday she'll narrate a program celebrating the 90th anniversary of her father's birth for the Blossom Festival Orchestra, conducted by Loras John Schissel. Selections include music from Candide, Wonderful Town, On the Town and West Side Story. For tickets, call 216.231.1111. Tickets: $20-$80. - Gill

The Wizard of Oz

What can you do to make Northeast Ohio audiences take an interest in a new stage production of The Wizard of Oz? Well, it wouldn't hurt to hire Parade the Circle artistic director Robin VanLear and put her in charge of the flying monkeys. Further, you might take advantage of her skills by asking her to create a 15-foot puppet to serve as the Gatekeeper to Oz. You might also procure some "kangaroo boots," which enable performers to launch themselves into the air. Carousel Dinner Theatre has done all those things and must be very confident in the result, having scheduled a run that opens Wednesday and doesn't close until November 1. It's a giant cast led by Kelsey Crouch-Pinter as Dorothy and Broadway veteran Lisa McMillan as the Wicked Witch, with 34 local kids as Munchkins. Carousel Dinner Theatre is at 1275 E. Waterloo Rd., Akron. For tickets, call 330.724.9855 or 800.362.4100. Tickets: $52-$61, includes dinner. - Gill

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