thursday
december 18
Triumph of the Spirit: Carlos Alfonzo's turbulent, mystical abstractions evoke Afro-Cuban symbols, European icons, violence, sex, the specter of death, and the tropics (his mural in the Santa Clara Metrorail station, The Mystery of the Tropics, typifies his grand scale). One of Miami's most celebrated and beloved young artists, Alfonzo died of AIDS-related causes in 1991, eleven years after arriving here as part of the Mariel boatlift. The much anticipated first retrospective of Alfonzo's prodigious body of work opens today at the Miami Art Museum (101 W. Flagler St.). The show includes 71 works the artist once described as nourished by Cuban drama and chaos as well as by American rationality and structure. "Triumph of the Spirit" will be up through March 8. Admission to the museum is five dollars. Call 375-3000 for hours. (JC)

Miami Jewish Film Festival: After six days and many stellar films, the Miami Jewish Film Festival ends its run tonight at 7:30 at the Colony Theater (1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach) with an Australian movie that was made in 1986 but is having its Florida premiere today. Starring British actor Bob Hoskins, The Dunera Boys details the story of Great Britain's unjust deportation of 2000 persons of German descent during World War II and their eventual internment in a detention camp in the Australian outback. Most of the so-called Germans happened to be Jewish, and they languished in the camp for a few years until Great Britain realized its transgression and released them. Ironically, many then joined the Australian army and fought against Hitler. After the screening the film's writer-director Ben Lewin speaks to the audience. Tickets cost $7.50. Call 576-4030. (NK)

friday
december 19
Edgar Winter: He's most noted for the early-Seventies thundering instrumental "Frankenstein" and the rock standard "Free Ride," but after tonight some South Floridians may remember Edgar Winter for another kind of free ride: His concert at Bayfront Park Amphitheater (301 Biscayne Blvd.) is gratis. Winter never quite got back the groove from his earlier work (his latest release, The Real Deal, certainly doesn't have any potential classic rock numbers), but the pallid, platinum-haired multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, along with opening act Sleepy LaBeef, will certainly create what promises to be an eclectic evening. LaBeef, possessed of one of the lowest voices in musicdom and a repertoire of around 6000 tunes, has a soft spot for rockabilly but also breaks into blues, country, and gospel when he gets the notion. He calls the resulting strange brew "goose-bump music," and we agree. This grievously underrated marvel must be seen live if you hope to understand his status among critics. Showtime is 8:00 p.m. Call 358-7550. (LB)

Triumph of the Spirit: See Thursday.

saturday
december 20
Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Laser Show: Talk about cashing in on Christmas. The brainchild of composer Chip Davis, Mannheim Steamroller is a collective of electronic and acoustic musicians, technicians, and studio engineers well-known for its brand of cheesy, new age, synthesized instrumental music -- sort of like Yanni on Valium. The Steamroller has learned the true meaning of milking the holiday for all it's worth by releasing four (yes, four) Christmas albums since 1984. The first three have sold more than 13 million copies (no numbers on the fourth, Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Live, just yet). Now they are guaranteed to sell even more records as the Miami Museum of Science and Space Transit Planetarium (3280 S. Miami Ave.) mounts a special pre-Christmas laser show set to MS's music. Today through Wednesday at 2:00 p.m., sit in the dark, behold the amazing lasers, and try to figure out why millions of people love this band. The show is free with museum admission, which ranges from six to nine dollars. Call 854-4247. (NK)

Take 6: While Claude McKnight was a freshman at Alabama's Oakwood College back in 1980, he formed a band as a hobby. Known first as the Gentlemen's Estate Quartet, then as Alliance when two more members joined in, the a cappella ensemble rehearsed in bathrooms (for the acoustics) and performed on campus and in churches. In 1987 Warner Brothers signed Alliance to a record contract and the group adopted the name Take 6. Ten years later the six guys with phenomenal voices -- Mark Kibble, Alvin Chea, Cedric Dent, David Thomas, Joey Kibble, and yes, Claude McKnight (brother of singing sensation Brian) -- have released five albums of jazzy contemporary Christian and rhythm and blues tunes, won five Grammy Awards, and triggered a trend that has spawned groups such as Boyz II Men. Tonight at 7:00 Take 6 brings its lush harmonies to the James L. Knight Center (400 SE Second Ave.); also on the bill are Miami-Dade Community College's Juba Gospel Ensemble, the Universal Truth Center's TruthR> Ensemble, the Macedonia Church of God in Christ Choir, and gospel group Jubilate. Tickets range from $16 to $51. Call 538-2121. (NK)

The Going Ape for Art Exhibit: Have you ever looked at a piece of modern art and thought, "Geez, I could do that! Heck, even a monkey could do that!" You didn't know how right you were. An ape might have done it; in particular, a three-year-old chimpanzee named Grub. A rising star in the world of animal artists, Grub grabbed a piece of paper and a pen one day, and next thing you know he was doing the morning talk-show circuit and now shows a bit of artistic temperament, working only when the mood strikes. He'll be at Bloomingdale's at the Falls (8778 SW 136th St.) today, signing his artwork with his thumbprint. Paintings sell for $30 to $100. The money goes to help build a twenty-acre sanctuary for the Center for Orangutan and Chimpanzee Conservation, an organization that takes in captive-born chimpanzees and orangutans that have been dumped by their inferior human relatives. Call 734-0329. (JO)

Triumph of the Spirit: See Thursday.

sunday
december 21
Dances for the Holiday Spirit: The holidays may not make you want to dance. In fact, they may make you downright hostile. Momentum Dance Company, however, literally jumps for joy this time of year. Tonight at the Colony Theater (1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach), Momentum gets jolly by presenting "Dances for the Holiday Spirit." Several works (some in progress) are on the bill; a few are set to Italian Baroque concertos by composers such as Corelli, Vivaldi, and Torelli. Haydn and Handel compositions provide the background for others. A highlight: Cuban ballerina Rosario "Charin" Suarez performs a work, specially created for her by Momentum artistic director Delma Isles, set to the allegro from Giuseppe Tartini's Christmas Concerto in A major. The show starts at 7:00 p.m. Tickets range from $7 to $15. For $25 you can hang out with the artists, eat cake, and sip champagne after the performance. Call 674R>-1026. (NK)

Triumph of the Spirit: See Thursday.
Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Laser Show: See Saturday.

monday
december 22
Florida Philharmonic: It wouldn't be Christmas without a messiah. We are not referring to the one who was supposedly born in Bethlehem on December 25, but then again, he is kind of essential to the whole shebang. We refer to George Frederick Handel's Messiah, that monumental work for chorus and orchestra written in 1740. You know -- the one that contains the rousing "Hallelujah" chorus. So what if you've heard it a million times; you can't deny the thrill. It is said that old Handel himself fainted during a performance of his Messiah and died shortly thereafter. With any luck tonight you'll just be inspired and not rendered unconscious or worse when the Florida Philharmonic and the Florida Philharmonic Chorus under the baton of James Judd perform the majestic oratorio at Gusman Center for the Performing Arts (175 E. Flagler St.). Showtime is 8:00 p.m. Tickets range from $17 to $70. Call 930-1812. (NK)

Murray Dranoff Two-Piano Competition Finals: As much as you hate to admit it, you should have listened to your parents and paid more attention to those piano lessons. Now what do you have to show for all those years spent banging away at the ivories, an out-of-tune upright gathering dust in the living room and a really spiffy version of "Chopsticks"? Too bad. Had you kept practicing, you might have ended up a part of the two-piano teams selected to participate in tonight's finals of the Murray Dranoff Two-Piano Competition. Attracting musicians from all over the world, the competition (founded by Loretta Dranoff as a tribute to her late husband Murray, with whom she performed extensively in a piano duo) celebrates its tenth anniversary. Applications from 187 teams were whittled down to 22, then to nine semifinalists. The nine have spent the past six days competing for an opportunity to be one of three teams who will vie for $25,000 in cash, a three-yeR>ar professional management contract, and a series of performance engagements. Mom and Dad said you'd be sorry! The finals get underway at 5:00 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre (541 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach). Tickets range from $15 to $50. For $200 to $250 you can also attend the black-tie gala afterward. Call 673-3331. (NK)

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Laser Show: See Saturday.

tuesday
december 23
Tunga: 1977-1997: His name may sound like something out of a Tarzan movie, but among the artsy cognoscenti the Brazilian artist Tunga is considered not a savage but one of the eminent members of his generation. For more than twenty years Tunga (born Antonio Jose Barros de Carvalho e Mello Mouroa) has created work that explores and challenges assumptions about the link between art and literature, reality and fiction, facts and dreams. He has also become the unofficial crown prince of cross-referencing because of the magically complex, physically striking series of installations he has produced; they meld into a developing narrative that intertwines texts and objects. The installation Lezart consists of a huge force field created by 400 pounds of magnetic filament, copper, and lead that are dragged through space by a six-foot-long metal comb. A twenty-year retrospective of Tunga's work including sculptures, drawings, installations, video, and films is on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art (770 NE 125th St., North Miami) through February. Admission is four dollars. Call 893-6211 for hours. (NK)

Triumph of the Spirit: See Thursday.
Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Laser Show: See Saturday.

wednesday
december 24
Matzo Ball: Are you a Jew with nothing to do on Christmas Eve? Well, you're not alone. In six other cities, including Boston, Philadelphia, and New York, young Jewish professionals are stepping out and partying the night away while everyone else is crawling into bed at home and waiting for Santa to pull up in his sled. Where are they going? The MatR>zo Ball, sponsored by the Society of Young Jewish Professionals. Miami's version of the bash will be held at 8:00 tonight at Amnesia (136 Collins Ave., Miami Beach). For $20 you can dance all night to the sounds of the house DJ, fill up on yummy hors d'oeuvres, rake in some door prizes, and just maybe meet that special someone who doesn't believe in Santa either! Call 888-633-5326. (NK)

Triumph of the Spirit: See Thursday.
Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Laser Show: See Saturday.
Tunga: 1977-1997: See Tuesday.

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