Gymnast-turned-model-turned-modern-dancer Miko Channell is a taskmaster at his day job, where he coaches preteens on dance moves at Wilson Middle School. "I can't stand floppy arms," he says. "I gotta have precision and grace."
The 28-year-old Channell has been kicking up his heels and avoiding floppy arms ever since his mom signed him up for tumbling classes when he was in the third grade. By the time he turned 20, he was choreographing his own high-stepping squad. During a trip to New York in 2000, Diesel Jeans talent agents spotted Channell in their Manhattan store and hired him to model the company's denims, shoes, and eyeglasses on runways from New York to Chicago. "It's a big rush," he says. "It's scary, but once you hit the stage, you get over the stage fright."
Channell conquered onstage butterflies, but homesickness lingered. So he returned to Cleveland to resurrect his dance career by teaching during the day and performing at Club Decó every other Wednesday night. "I wouldn't have a job if I didn't know how to dance," he says. "Plus, it keeps me in shape." Channell performs at midnight and 1 a.m. at Club Decó, 12113 Detroit Avenue. Admission is $3; call 216-221-8576. -- Cris Glaser
Annual AIDS fest moves on up to Clifton.
The moment the doors closed on Dancin' in the Streets last year at Tower City Amphitheater, John Katsaros thought the 20-year-old festival for the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland was gone for good. Even the taskforce folks said so. But in June, Katsaros, owner of the Clifton Boulevard bar Twist, summoned a few friends to help recreate the fest's early days, when it was a block party on West Ninth Street. Only this time, it would be in front of his club on Clifton Boulevard. "It got too big over the years and lost its focus," says Katsaros. This year's party focuses on the essentials: DJs, food vendors, and beer trucks. "It's your friends getting together in the middle of the street, having a few drinks, laughing, dancing, and joking," says Katsaros. "You don't have to have a lot for people to do to have a good time." Dancin' happens from 1 to 8 p.m. Sunday on Clifton Boulevard, between West 116th and West 117th streets. Tickets are $25; call 216-357-2223. -- Cris Glaser
MADtv vet's stand-up act takes a cue from Eddie.
Like many black comics who made their bones on the stand-up circuit over the past decade, Aries Spears owes a debt to Eddie Murphy. "I was an Eddie Murphy freak," says the Chicago native. "He's my inspiration." Spears spent the past eight years on MADtv, where he honed impressions of James Brown and Shaquille O'Neal, and masterminded the "Real Motherfucking Talk" sketches about a chat show with the most expletives-per-minute ever uttered on-air. You can hear some of them when Spears plays the Improv (2000 Sycamore Street) Thursday through Sunday. Show times are 8 p.m. Thursday and Sunday, and 8 and 10:15 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $16; call 216-696-4677. -- P.F. Wilson
Don't Say It, Spray It
Two decades of watching Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo finally pay off Saturday at the fourth annual City Xpressionz graffiti and break-dancing competition in Ohio City. Cash prizes go to the best aerosol artists and b-boy (and -girl) battlers. Tagging happens from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Market Square Park (at West 25th Street and Lorain Avenue). It's free to watch, $20 to participate in the graffiti contest, and $5 to take part in the two-person b-boy throwdown. Call 216-621-5330 for info. -- Michael Gallucci