Bay Area Best Bets | February 7 – 9

Dancer Michael Montgomery joins his fellow members of Alonzo King LINES Ballet in performance of a new work created with San Francisco’s iconic Grace Cathedral in mind. (Photo courtesy of RJ Muna)

The Bay Area is a hub of artistic expression, attracting artists, writers and musicians from around the globe to live, work and create. We highlight some of the offerings here

• As the spirit moves, they dance: San Francisco choreographer Alonzo King, who has been artist-in-residence at Grace Cathedral this past year, brings his acclaimed LINES Ballet Company to its hallowed environs for two performances this weekend. The new work, titled, simply, “GRACE,” and designed specifically for the cathedral, will feature the troupe dancing to Native American drumming as well as music by Faure, Handel, St. Thomas Aquinas (and who knew he was a composer?), El Hamideen and Etta James. King’s work, inspired by sacred musical traditions, aspires to show the connections between our spiritual and physical selves. It’s set for 7:30 p.m. Feb. 7 and 8, 1100 California St., San Francisco. Find tickets, $35-$95, at 415-392-4400 and

Paula West

• Head West: Jazz/cabaret singer Paula West is one of the Bay Area’s true treasures, blessed with both technical process and a wonderful insight into music’s possibilities. She can make a tune sexy, sassy, world-weary or just plain gorgeous while covering songwriters ranging from Gershwin to Dylan to Bowie. She’s built a new show and setlist for her annual stand at Feinstein’s, the San Francisco cabaret joint at the Hotel Nikko, which kicks off Feb. 6. Expect an eclectic mix of pop/R&B classics, jazz gems and delectable cuts from the Great American songbook from West and her four-piece band. Performances run through Feb. 16; tickets are $65-$85;

• ‘Shadow’ of illumination: It’s probably safe to say you’ve not seen a play before like “The Shadow Whose Prey the Hunter Becomes,” which comes to Stanford this week. The 65-minute show — presented by Australia’s Back to Back Theatre — was created by and stars four performers with various intellectual disabilities. “Shadow” begins as something of a town meeting meant to instruct the public on the nature of mental illness, but audience members slowly learn they are being gently toyed with and that everything going on stage — from the relationship of the actors to the characters they play to the nature of mental illness itself — may not be what you thought it was. Presented by Stanford Live, the show plays through Feb. 8 at Stanford’s Bing Concert Hall Studio; tickets $40 ($15 for students);

Katrina Lauren McGraw stars as the legendary blues singer Bessie Smith in “The Devil’s Music.” (Photo by Kevin Berne/Center Repertory Company)

• An icon brought to life: Bessie Smith was a blues legend who sang hard, drank harder and loved (both men and women) with abandon. She was also the most successful female music artist in America in the 1920s and ’30s. And while “The Devil’s Music,” a jukebox musical about Smith now playing in Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center, may not capture all the complexities of the singer’s life, it features a kick-butt performance by Katrina Lauren McGraw, who, backed by a four-person band, sings the heck out of such standards as “Tain’t Nobody’s Business if I Do” and “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out.” Presented by Center Repertory Company, “Devil’s Music” runs through Feb. 22. Tickets are $35-$85;

• The future in music: Bay Area-based, but world-renowned, the members of the Kronos Quartet, with a student subbing for their cellist, bring their expertise, their generosity and their music to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music on Feb. 6 to concertize with 75 students from there and from the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts and the Oakland School of the Arts. It’s all part of the project known as “50 for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire,” and works to be played were created specifically for the project. SFCM cellist Matthew Park sits in with the Kronos, as their cellist Sunny Yang is on maternity leave. Best of all, the concert is free on a first-come, first-admitted basis. Tickets are available at 6:30 p.m.; doors open at 7, and the concert starts at 7:30 p.m. at 50 Oak St. in San Francisco. Find program info at or call 415-503-6275.

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