Balloon Man

Fred Garbo blows hot air at Playhouse Square.

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Cleveland DanceSport Challenge Embassy Suites Hotel, 5800 Rockside Woods Boulevard in Independence 6 p.m. Thursday, September 18, and 9 a.m. Friday, September 19, and Saturday, September 20. Tickets range from $10 to $75; call 216-577-6952
The Fred Garbo Inflatable Theatre Company floats into - the Playhouses Centerfest.
The Fred Garbo Inflatable Theatre Company floats into the Playhouses Centerfest.
SAT 9/20

Fred Garbo admits that the Fred Garbo Inflatable Theater Company is hard to describe. He is a mime, after all. But not a white-faced, striped-shirt-wearing-clown-who-opens-imaginary-doors kinda mime. Garbo brings gigantic inflatable props to life onstage, and he's one of 50 artists participating in Playhouse Square's Centerfest performing arts festival on Saturday.

After playing Barkley, Sesame Street's resident dog, for eight seasons, Garbo hooked up with a hot-air-balloon craftsman, who designed costumes out of lightweight nylon fabric -- the same stuff parachutes are made of. "It's obvious to the audience that there's a person inside the inflatables," he says. "It's how you bring them to life that's fun." Garbo and partner Daielma Santos do more than just float -- they perform balloon-clad acrobatics. "At the end of the show, we do a pas de blimp," he boasts. Centerfest -- which also includes dance performances, craft booths, and a sneak peek at upcoming stage shows -- takes place from noon to 5 p.m. at Playhouse Square Center (1501 Euclid Avenue). Admission is free; visit -- Diane Sofranec

Dressed for Success

SAT 9/20

Denver's Dressy Bessy plays power pop with the same three chords the Ramones mastered 25 years ago. Its charm sneaks up on you. Catch the band at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Boulevard in Cleveland Heights) at 10 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $7. Call 216-321-5588 for more information. -- Michael Gallucci

Songs: Ohio

THU 9/18

Cincinnati's Over the Rhine recently released Ohio, a two-CD set that pays tribute to the state. And like the band's previous nine albums, Ohio is a moody, atmospheric trip through lush soundscapes. Over the Rhine is at the Beachland (15711 Waterloo Road) at 8:30 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are $10 and $12; call 216-383-1124. -- Michael Gallucci

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