For Verb Ballets' premiere at Playhouse Square on Friday, Hernando Cortez followed his instincts in picking "exciting, athletic, and sensual" works to retool for the New Classics Collection. The cornerstone of the three-piece program is Carl Orff's musical cantata "Carmina Burana," a collection of songs and poems from 13th-century Bavaria. "[It] has always excited me, because there's something beautifully haunting and spiritual about this piece of music," explains Cortez, the company's artistic director. "The poems speak to the heart of all complexities: birth, death, youth, romance, loneliness." The Orff piece will follow two other ballets -- Martha Graham's "Appalachian Spring" and Paul Taylor's spirited "Esplanade," starring dance doyenne Ann Ennis. "Of all 365 nights of the year, this will be the one special night for [us]," says Cortez. "I'm very optimistic that dance in Cleveland will survive." New Classics Collection will be performed at 8 p.m. at the Ohio Theatre, 1519 Euclid Avenue. Tickets are $25 to $35; call 216-241-6000. -- Cris Glaser
Windsong's formula for choosing Steppin' Out!'s repertoire was fairly simple: All the songs for the self-described feminist chorus's first concert of the year had to be written "by, for, and about women," says JoAnne Hahn, acting director of the 20-woman choir. "But it was kind of hard for us to figure out what the word feminist means." Still, it was a no-brainer to pick the lesbo-friendly "Something Inside So Strong" by the Flirtations and the politically rooted "Marie," which is "about two women who want to go to the high school prom together in California," explains Hahn. "They take their case to court, and the judge says that basically they can go as a couple. It promises to have wide appeal." Steppin' Out! is at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at St. Alban Episcopal Church, 2555 Euclid Heights Boulevard in Cleveland Heights. Tickets are $15, $10 in advance; call 216-921-7328. -- Cris Glaser
Joey Kola better keep his night job. By day, the New York comic warms up audiences for the ratings-challenged daytime talkfest The Jane Pauley Show. When the week's tapings wrap up on Friday afternoons, Kola's on a plane to his next stand-up gig. "It's a way to get attention, like being a rock-and-roll star without having to play the instrument," offers Kola. "Once you get onstage and hear all these laughs, it's like heroin." Kola performs at 7:30 and 10:15 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Hilarities East 4th Theatre, 2035 East 4th Street. Tickets are $10 to $18; call 216-736-4242. -- Cris Glaser
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