You don't have to know a damn thing about ballet to appreciate the immense athletic and artistic abilities that go into each performance, and the Miami City Ballet's "Program III" will not disappoint hard-core dance fanatics. This program features the company premieres of Jerome Robbins's Afternoon of a Faun and Fancy Free, and George Balanchine's La Valse, in addition to an encore presentation of Balanchine's Sonatine.
The program opens with Robbins's 1953 update of Vaslav Nijinsky's Afternoon of a Faun, based on Claude Debussy's music and Stéphane Mallarmé's poem about a faun's encounter with nymphs. But watch out, girls! The ship has docked and these sailors are on leave and ready to party in the snappy and delightful Fancy Free. The mood shifts in La Valse to a dark ballroom of 34 dancers waltzing to the music of Maurice Ravel until their party is crashed by Death himself, and the program concludes with Sonatine, a romantic little pas de deux. You can catch these beautiful ballets tonight and Saturday night at 8:00, and Sunday afternoon at 2:00, at the Jackie Gleason Theater, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets range from $19.90 to $59.90. Call 877-929-7010 or 305-673-7300, or visit www.miamicityballet.org. -- Lyssa Oberkreser
No breaking on her dance floor
The dance is the ultimate physical expression of human emotion, and when it's presented by a complementary couple, the sexiest. Well, the sexiest you can show in prime time anyway. Garnering rave reviews wherever they go, Michael Kessler and Melinda Jackson are that couple. Their finely tuned performance in Let's Dance tells the age-old story of potential lovers overcoming supposedly insurmountable odds. He is the "break-dancing jock-turned-hippie." (How the heck does that happen?) She is the classical ballerina about to learn a new step or two. Inspired by Fred Astaire, he attends a ballet class where he finds her, his true love. Imagine a lighthearted Saturday Night Fever set to the tunes of George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Harry Warren, and Johnny Mercer. The romantic comedy returns to South Florida for one night only at the North Miami Beach Performing Arts Theatre (17011 NE Nineteenth Ave., North Miami Beach). The curtain shimmies at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $20. Call 305-787-6005, or visit www.americandance.biz. -- Margaret Griffis
T-T-T-Tony and the Jets
There's a place for them
Leonard Bernstein insisted that West Side Story was a children's tale, balking at the idea of using professionals, concerned it would destroy the youthful quality of the show. But few young actors could interpret the roles as convincingly as adults. Not a problem for the Broadway-bound actors of the Miami Children's Theater. And tonight won't be just any night -- it's their opening of the classic Romeo-and-Juliet-take-Manhattan musical. Watch the gangs break out in the immortal song and dance of love and war tonight at 7:00 at the Alper JCC (11155 SW 112th Ave., Miami). The play runs through February 20. Tickets cost $12 to $20. Call 305-233-2206, or visit miamichildrenstheater.com. -- Makkada Sela
Despite Billie Holiday's notorious love for high living, most of her signature songs -- "God Bless the Child," "Strange Fruit," "Don't Explain," "Solitude" -- smolder with sadness and pain. The M Ensemble gives a window into the jazz legend's tragically short life in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill. See this play tonight at The M Ensemble Actor's Studio, 12320 W. Dixie Hwy., North Miami. Tickets range from $15 to $20. Call 305-895-8955, or visit www.themensemble.com. -- Patrice Elizabeth Grell Yursik