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Thursday 1

ATHLETES AS ARTISTS. Award-winning entertainment that flies in the face of gravity lands in Tucson for two nights only.

Put members of the Romanian Gymnastics Federation at the mercy of the "three sacred monsters of contemporary choreography," and you've got Aeros, a breathtaking fusion of art and athleticism.

Daniel Ezralow, David Parsons and Moses Pendleton, regarded as some of the most innovative choreographers around, teamed up with Stomp creators Luke Creswell and Steve McNicholas to create the high-flying extravaganza.

Aeros started as a dance event in Italy in 1998 to celebrate the strength, equilibrium and harmony of a group of 15 gymnasts. The success of that one event sowed the idea of a permanent group that would perform a new kind of dance production.

The athletes to take the stage range in age from 19 to 26. It is an impressive cast of gymnasts; most are gold medalists in European competition, five are world champions.

Tonight's show at Centennial Hall begins at 7:30. Friday's performance starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $22 to $34. Centennial Hall is located at 1020 E. University Blvd. Box office hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Call 621-3341.

GET GROUNDED. Just in time for the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, The UA's Flandrau Science Center is opening a series of "hard-core" exhibits with an emphasis on hands-on education.

Flandrau Rocks! will feature the UA Mineral Museum, one of the premier mineral collections in the Southwest. Each month will have a different focus, organizers say.

"Our goal is to tie into the excitement generated by the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show but to take it a step further by offering the public real science learning opportunities in a fun atmosphere," Flandrau director Alexis Faust says.

Topics will include gem faceting, micromounts, flourescence and bead making. Ongoing exhibits include gem and mineral displays ranging from the microscopic to the massive, and videos of Kartchner Caverns.

February's emphasis on gems and minerals will include presentations by experts each Monday and Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.

Flandrau Science Center is located at 1601 E. University Blvd., on the UA campus at the northeast corner of Cherry and University. For information, call 621-7827.


Friday 2

ALEXANDER THE DELICIOUS. Was Alexander the Great's path to glory smeared with blood?

Just who was behind the assassination of his father, anyway? You remember, good old Dad was Philip II, the king of Macedonia and the conqueror of Greece. Was the killer Philip's jilted first wife, a jealous lover or ... Alexander himself?

Chew on these questions and others tonight as you enjoy a Mystery in History dinner presented by the University of Arizona history department and Clues Unlimited Bookstore.

Professor Alison Futreel will explore in fascinating detail Alexander's spectacular life in Making Alexander Great: Murder in Macedonia.

The event benefits undergraduates in the UA history department. Tickets are $40 per person, half of which is tax-deductible. The evening begins with a 6 p.m. reception at Clues Unlimited, 123 S. Eastbourne Ave., at the southwest corner of Broadway Boulevard and Country Club Road. The dinner and lecture starts at 7 p.m. at the Plaza Hotel, 1900 E. Speedway Blvd. For more information, call 621-3793. Reservations? Call 621-9359.

FIT AS A FIDDLE AND READY FOR LOVE? You can hurry love.

Well, anyway, that's what Rich Gosse writes in a book by the same name.

Judging from his press release, he ought to know. Apparently, he's an expert. He's been all over TV and everything, talking about his eight books and his three rules for finding love. (Talking heads will believe anyone, of course, so take that one with a whiff of Dan Rather on election night.)

By all accounts, mine humbly included, Gosse's three rules for finding love make him a bona fide genius, a veritable Love God. Here they are:

1. Get out of the house. Most singles stay home seven nights a week and wonder why they never meet anyone.

2. Go where the ducks are. Most people go to places where they are guaranteed to meet the wrong person. (?#@ a duck?)

3. Initiate contact. Someone has to put his or her ego on the line and take the first step.

If you haven't been able to figure out any of this on your own, or if you're just mulling one-night stand possibilities, you really ought to head down to the DoubleTree Hotel tonight.

Looking for Love in All the Right Places is the topic of Gosse's keynote speech. It begins at 7:30 p.m. and will be followed by a dance party. Coat and tie and "dressy attire" are recommended. Tickets are $20 at the door.


Saturday 3

RENAISSANCE REMOTE. A bunch of people dressed up like knights and damsels in distress are prancing around in their camp, gnawing on turkey legs and jousting at the foot of the Superstition Mountains.

Just outside of Florence. Go take a look.

It's the 13th annual Arizona Renaissance Festival, eight weekends of fantasy featuring a 30-acre village complete with castles, cottages, pubs and nonstop entertainment on 12 stages.

Stage acts include acrobats, musicians and puppeteers. A tournament arena features three jousts a day. Also, hundreds of costumed characters will keep visitors entertained throughout the day.

More than 200 open-air shops will offer everything from pottery to stained glass.

The royal kitchen will be serving up roasted turkey drumsticks, steak on a stake and stew.

The village opens today and runs every weekend through March 25. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Advance tickets, available at Fry's Food Stores, are $14 for adults, $5 for children 5-12. Kids under 5 are free. At the gate, tickets are $1 more. The theme park is located seven miles west of Florence. From Tucson, take Highway 79, the Pinal Pioneer Parkway, to Florence Junction, then go west seven miles to the festival gate.

For more information, call 520-463-2700, or visit www.royalfaires.com.

RUSSIAN TRADITION. Prima balalaika virtuoso Evgueny Tzygankov joins the Arizona Balalaika Orchestra and Kalinka Russian Dancers in a 21st anniversary celebration.

The orchestra, which began as a small informal group at the UA Russian department, has grown under the direction of Mia Gay into well-disciplined 30-member orchestra that performs regularly.

Among balalaika orchestras nationwide, the Arizona Balalaika Orchestra is unique in its dynamic productions that can include as many as 100 performers on stage.

The Kalinka Dancers was formed in 1989 and has become a popular, colorful addition at the orchestra's concerts.

This year's Russian Winter Festival concerts feature Tzygankov and the Sons of Orpheus Men's Chorus, led by tenor and UA professor of voice Grayson Hirst.

The concerts are at 7 tonight and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Pima Community College Center for the Arts, 2202 W. Anklam Road. Tickets are $10 adults, $8 students, available at the PCC box office, the Folk Shop, Hear's Music and Guitars Etc. Charge tickets by phone at 206-6988, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call 623-7136.

DECKED OUT TO DECK CANCER. Hoping to raise money to research new treatments for cancer patients, the Friends of the Arizona Cancer Center are putting on their black-tie optional gala benefit.

The $100 per-person evening includes hors d'oeuvres, wine, dessert and champagne.

An original art show and sale at the event will pitch in, too, with 30 percent of the proceeds going directly to the center.

Funds raised in the third annual charity event will go toward research and new examination and treatment areas.

The gala is from 7 to 10 p.m. tonight at Mo's Gallery and Fine Framing, 3650 E. Fort Lowell Road, at Fort Lowell and Dodge. For more information, call 577-0490.


Sunday 4

PLAYING TO PERFECTION. One of the 21st century's rising stars is in Tucson today to play the piano.

Sergei Schepkin, a Russian pianist whose recordings are getting increased broadcast play and attention from Fanfare, Listener and BBC Music Magazine, will perform at the Tucson Community Center Leo Rich Theater.

Part of the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music's Piano and Friends series' sixth season, Schepkin's performance will include Chopin's Two Nocturnes, Op. 62 and Scherzo No. 3, along with Bach's Goldberg Variations.

The series focuses on some of the world's finest musicians playing an interesting classical and contemporary repertoire.

Schepkin, who was born in St. Petersburg, began playing piano at the age of 5. He holds an artist diploma and Doctorate of Musical Arts in piano performance from the New England Conservatory in Boston, where he studied with Russell Sherman.

Today's concert begins at 3 p.m. Tickets are $12 general admission, $5 students. For more information, call 577-3769.


Monday 5

HOLOCAUST VIGIL. The names of 22,000 men, women and children will be recited during a 25-hour vigil that begins today to honor the victims of the Holocaust.

The powerful ceremony at noon marks the start of the UA Hillel Foundation's ninth annual Conference on the Holocaust.

The vigil will open and close with short programs, and throughout the event there will be an informational display on the UA mall, where the vigil is to take place.

The conference--this year's theme is From Darkness to Light: Finding Hope and Tolerance--continues throughout the week with the following events.

A special presentation of the film From Swastika to Jim Crow begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Hillel. The two-hour program includes a presentation by one of the film's principal characters, Jim McWilliams, and Kim Thomas of the Anti-Defamation League in Phoenix.

On Thursday, a reception is planned for participants in the second annual Holocaust memorial poetry and photo contest. The reception begins at 6 p.m. in the lobby of the Arizona State Museum.

Shabbat services and dinner begin at 5:30 p.m. Friday. The services focus on multiculturalism and social justice.

Join Claude Spingarn on Sunday for Shabbat lunch. Spingarn's family, originally from Poland, fled after Kristallnacht for the only place that would have them--Shanghai.

Hillel Foundation is located at 1245 E. Second St. For more information about any of the events, contact Rabbi Jonathan Freirich at 624-6561.


Tuesday 6

HURRY, HURRY, HURRY. Riverdance, the (too?) much-celebrated celebration of Irish music, song and dance, is back in town.

This time, for eight performances only ...

Seriously, if you haven't seen this high-stepping spectacle, find out what the hype is about. Riverdance, after its world premiere at the Public Theatre in Dublin in 1995, has taken the world by storm.

More than 10 million people have seen the production; right now, there are two touring Riverdance companies and an ongoing Broadway production at the Gershwin Theatre. Moreover, 6.5 million people have purchased videos of the show and Riverdance--The Album has sold more than 2 million copies.

Not that anyone (except promoters) talks about it anymore. Still, you owe it to yourself to see the show before, uh ... before it comes back to Tucson again.

Eight performances start tonight at Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd., just east of Park Avenue. Tonight's show begins at 7:30. Other times vary. Tickets are $40 to $56. Box office hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays. For show times and more information, call 621-3341.


Wednesday 7

DIGITAL DESERT. Saguaros in bloom, the glare of a horned owl and javelinas rooting for a bite to eat.

These are a few of the digitized images created by Nile Root. They're on display now at the Artist of the Month Gallery.

Root describes his exhibit, a collection of photos shot over the past decade, as "a journey to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum."

The exhibit opens today and runs through March 2. A reception is planned for noon to 2 p.m. Sunday, February 11. The gallery is located in the Unitarian Universalist Church, 4831 E. 22nd St. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. For more information, call 885-5179. For an exhibit preview of the cyber-sort, check out Root's Web site, www.niler.com.

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