Best Bets: ‘A Strange Loop,’ Angelique Kidjo, and more

Hermosura Dance Productions in Fremont is among the school and companies participating in sjDANCEco’s annual free Spring Dance Festival events. (Courtesy Hermosura Dance Productions)

Freebie of the week: As MC Hammer might say: “You can’t touch this.” We can’t help but think that Mr. Hammer, who rode crazy-good dance maneuvers and a purloined Rick James riff to global fame in the early 1990s, would be a big fan of Bay Area Dance Week. The event returns this week for its 26th year and for dance fans, there is no better deal. Running April 26 through May 5 (we’ll politely point out that “Dance Week” lasts 10 days), the event features scores of performances, lessons, group dance events, demonstrations and more. Events take place all over the Bay Area and everything is free.

If you want to catch Smuin Contemporary Ballet rehearsing a new work, take a West African dance class or find out about liturgical dance, Bay Area Dance Week has an event for you. San Jose gets into the act in a big way this weekend, when sjDANCEco stages its annual Spring Dance Festival Saturday and Sunday, featuring dozens of free performances and classes in many styles. 

Go to for details on Spring Dance Fest; visit for more information, including the full schedule, on Bay Area Dance Week. 

L-R, Joran Barbour and Malachi McCaskill star in “A Strange Loop” at American Conservatory Theater. (Alessandra Mello/American Conservatory Theater)

A super ‘Loop’: It isn’t often that a musical captures the Pulitzer Prize for drama. But it’s not often that a musical is named after a cognitive science term about the sense of self and a Liz Phair song.

“A Strange Loop,” opening this week at American Conservatory Theater, can claim both those things. Michael R. Jackson’s 2019 musical comedy is about as autobiographical as a show can get. It follows a Black gay man named Usher who works as an usher at a “The Lion King” musical production and is writing a musical about a Black gay man writing a musical. The scenario isn’t exactly a blueprint for achieving wealth, fame and delirious happiness. It doesn’t help that his parents criticize his lifestyle and work and wish that he were more like Tyler Perry.

This production, a joint venture between ACT and Los Angeles’ Center Theatre Group, features the same creative team (but different cast) as the Broadway run. It plays through May 12 at ACT’s Tony Rembe Theater in San Francisco. Tickets are $25-$137; go to

Angelique Kidjo (Danny Clinch/Courtesy of Angelique Kidjo)

A chameleonic chanteuse: Angelique Kidjo has covered so much artistic ground in her fabled four-decade career, it’s easier to talk about musical styles she hasn’t dabbled in. (Polka death metal, we’re looking at you.)

The French African singer who was born in Benin poses a sparkling, exorbitantly expressive voice that traverses African and Caribbean music, jazz and Latin jazz, blues, rock and more. She has collaborated with artists ranging from Bono to John Legend to Jimmy Buffet to Philip Glass to Carlos Santana and once covered, song-for-song, the Talking Heads album “Remain in Light.”

The five-time Grammy winner is celebrating her four decades in music with a career-spanning tour that stops at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall on Friday, in a concert presented by Cal Performances. The music starts at 8 p.m.; tickets are $37-$120. Go to

The Telegraph Quartet. (Courtesy Lisa Marie Mazzucco)

A special pairing: The San Jose Chamber Orchestra plays host on Saturday to the Telegraph Quartet, winners of the Naumburg Chamber Music Award and the quartet-in-residence at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Several orchestra players join the ensemble for Osvaldo Golijov’s “Last Round,” a dynamic 1996 work for double quartet and bass the Argentine composer has called “a sublimated tango dance.”

Also on the program are the 1946 String Quartet No. 1, “Lyric,” from George Walker, the first Black composer to win the Pulitzer Prize for music, and Alexander Borodin’s lush and utterly lovely String Quartet No. 2 in D major from 1881, with its third “Notturno” movement memorably captured in the musical “Kismet.” If you need a reminder of how beautiful that is, the Dover Quartet plays it here.

The concert is at 7 p.m. Saturday at St. Francis Episcopal Church in San Jose’s Willow Glen neighborhood. For tickets, $15-$75, visit

Guitarist Julia Trintschuk appears on a double bill recital presented by the Omni Foundation for the Performing Arts. (Courtesy photo)

Some stellar strummers: Two artists who began playing the guitar at an incredibly early age will take center stage in recital program sponsored by the Omni Foundation for the Performing Arts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in San Francisco. German-born Julia Trintschuk, who was playing piano at age 4 in 2001, when her father began teaching her guitar, made her stage debut at age 16 playing Rodrigo’s famous “Concierto de Aranjuez.” Grisha Goryachev from St. Petersburg, Russia, also tutored by his father, began at age 6. He made his concert debut a mere three years later and is now an acknowledged master of the solo flamenco guitar.

The program includes Spanish and Latin American classical works by Sor, Clerch, Manuel de Falla, Ramírez, Tárrega, Sabicas, Escudero, Paco de Lucía, Riqueni, Amigo, and Nuñez. For tickets and information, go to 

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