Cirque Alfonse: Timber!
The story seems too good to be true, but, as it's told, the world-touring Quebec-based circus troupe Cirque Alfonse began when adult siblings Antoine and Julie Carabinier created an entertaining sketch as a birthday present for their father, Alain. Not everyone's party piece would turn out to be stage-worthy. But, Julie was a trained dancer, her brother a seasoned circus performer and their father an amateur clown, so it didn't take much for the three to realize they had something with potential. The full company of professional musicians and acrobats, still headed by the Carabinier family, started touring in 2005 and, a decade later, they bring their original production Timber! to Kingsbury Hall.
There are no lions or tigers in this modern-day circus, but you might still gasp with fright as you watch performers juggling hatchets, landing flips on a wooden two-by-four held by two strong men, or jumping through a hoop made of razor-sharp crosscut saws. Set all this to the old-timey sounds of a well-strung banjo, and you've got a good sense of how the night will go.
Cirque Alfonse falls clearly in the realm of contemporary circuses like Cirque du Soleil, relying on amazing feats from clowns, acrobats, trapeze artists, musicians and others. These performances are often strung together with a simple story line. Timber! is held together with Canadian folklore and tales of the lumberjacks of old. There's guaranteed to be beards and red suspenders aplenty in this lively, family-friendly show. (Katherine Pioli)
Cirque Alfonse: Timber! @ Kingsbury Hall, 1395 E. Presidents Circle, 801-581-7100, Feb. 4, 7:30 p.m., $19-$39, student $5. KingsburyHall.Utah.edu
David Brothers: Rolithica
David Brothers is an underappreciated local master of a multiplicity of media. Brothers has added his unique sensibility to animation, film, painting, photography, printmaking and video, but hasn't received much notice by the mainstream visual-arts community. The Utah Museum of Contemporary Art presents Brothers' exhibit Rolithica to showcase the work of this eccentric figure.
Utahns may be familiar with Brothers' work as a set designer for films like Trent Harris' Plan 10 From Outer Space. Also, his series Any Act—featuring local actor Gyll Huff, who recently passed away—used photographic tableaus resembling stills from sensational B-movie productions. Rolithica continues his exploration of stage sets that are alternately places of extravagance and sites of utter wreckage and impoverishment as dramatic environments—dreamscapes in which scenes of sublime romanticism as well as utter depravity might be imagined to take place.
The exhibition will include an installation that is site-specific to the museum, as well as a series of large-format photographs providing a glimpse into Brothers' eccentric artistic process and methods. His dedication to the discipline of his craft enables him to construct these pieces with intricate details that add a sinister humor to the experience. The exhibit is part of UMOCA's exploration of Utah's outsider arts culture that began with the museum's Mondo Utah exhibit several years ago. (Brian Staker)
David Brothers: Rolithica @ Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, 20 S. West Temple, 801-328-4201, through April 30, Tuesday-Saturday, suggested $5 donation for admission, opening reception Feb. 5, 7-9 p.m. UtahMOCA.org
100 Cent Canary: Dada at Weller Book Works
Dada—the art movement formed in Europe as a reaction to the horrors of World War I—was known for its use of satirical humor, elements combined in seemingly random collages and assemblages, and the use of nonsense words, thus the name. Weller Book Works celebrates the 100th anniversary of the art that exploded out of the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich, Switzerland, in February 1916 and spread like wildfire across Europe, and whose influence is still being sharply felt today.
On Feb. 6, a wide array of artists from a number of disciplines will show the enormous influence of Dada, including BYU professor of music Christian Asplund with his Avant GaRAWage. "Wordshaker and sonosopher" Alex Caldiero bridges the worlds of language and pure sound. Poet José Knighton will read Tristan Tzara and his own works. Homage is paid to musical matters with Mattson McFarland's "Intonarumon" noise-making apparatus, and Mike Kaly and cohort performing the John Cage-influenced musical piece "To C." Performance art group Another Language presents their work "Bug Splatter," while store owner Tony Weller will re-enact "Gadji Beri Bimba," a nonsense/sound poem by Hugo Ball, founder of Cabaret Voltaire. Many more are on tap, including alphabetically last but not least, Dada drummer "Jammin Jerry Z."
War and other human violence doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon, but this celebration shows that artists still maintain an arsenal of sharpened sensibilities to meet the nonsense of life with the good sense of nonsensical art. (Brian Staker)
100 Cent Canary: Dada at Weller Book Works @ Weller's Book Works, 607 Trolley Square, 801-328-2586, Feb. 6, 8-11 p.m., free. WellerBookWorks.com
The Harlem Globetrotters
The Harlem Globetrotters roll into Salt Lake City this week, for their annual appearance, while also celebrating 90 years since the first edition of the squad was formed—not in Harlem, but in Chicago.
Over the course of those nine decades, the Trotters have put on more than 20,000 "shows"—the term used on the team website, rather than "game"—in 120 countries, playing for presidents, popes and royalty. They've been on Gilligan's Island and Scooby Doo, and played a goodwill role during the Cold War when they played for Nikita Khrushchev in Moscow in 1959. The team is also celebrating the memory of Meadowlark Lemon, the "Clown Prince of Basketball" who held court as the Globie's leading man for 24 seasons, and passed away in December at the age of 83.
While the players are new (there are now female Trotters and the hapless opponent is no longer the Washington Generals), much of the Globetrotters experience is just as it has been for decades. The red-white-and-blue uniforms. The Magic Circle before the game set to "Sweet Georgia Brown." The three-man weave offense. The amazing dribbling exhibitions. The highlight dunks. The half-court shots. And, most of all, the gags that are just as funny to 21st-century kids as they were to their grandparents.
Not many groups formed in the days of Prohibition and Babe Ruth have stood the test of time. On Monday, the Globetrotters will show once again show why they've endured. (Geoff Griffin)
The Harlem Globetrotters @ Vivint SmartHome Arena, 301 S. Temple, 801-325-7328, Feb. 8, 7 p.m., $20-$135. VivintArena.com
David Silverman: Fighting God
In recent years, atheists in America have become more politically active, railing against the efforts of organized religions, which, in their view, increasingly seek to blur the separation of church and state. David Silverman, president of American Atheists, maintains that religion is not only superstition but also a toxic force in society.
In his book Fighting God: An Atheist Manifesto for a Religious World, Silverman—who often appears in the media, from Fox News to NPR—has put his convictions into a "manifesto" aimed at religion and its unhealthy alliance with politics. He speaks to the effects of religion on everything from anti-science views against climate change to vaccinations, from gay rights to women's rights—even "In God We Trust" stamped on our money. Silverman will speak about his book and atheism in general, including the struggles faced by atheists in "a religious world." The talk will be followed by a Q&A session, and Silverman will sign copies of his book. (Brian Staker)
David Silverman: Fighting God @ Salt Lake City Main Library, 210 E. 400 South, 801-524-8200, Feb. 10, 6 p.m., free. SLCPL.org