You've always wanted to dance professionally but you've never been given the chance to get onstage and strut your stuff. Maybe the reason has to do with your utter lack of grace. Yes, two left feet can be a major hindrance for those desirous of a career in the dance world. But there's hope for you yet. Arthur Mitchell and the Dance Theatre of Harlem are coming to town and giving a performance/workshop in the auditorium at the Joseph Caleb Center (5400 NW 22nd Ave.) tonight at 7:00. Former New York City Ballet dancer Mitchell founded the Dance Theatre 30 years ago as an all-black troupe, but in recent years he has integrated the company, which is best known for its innovative, modern takes on classical ballets. Tickets cost $20; $10 for students. Call 305-636-2350. (NK)
Lately the weather has been sunny, breezy, and slightly cool by South Florida standards. Time to get in all the kite-flying you possibly can before conditions turn stagnant and suffocatingly hot. The best place to do that is the International Kite Festival going on from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. today, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. tomorrow, and 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Sunday at Lummus Park Beach (Ocean Drive, from Fifth to Fifteenth streets, Miami Beach). Billed as the second-largest kite festival in the world, the event features huge fliers of every shape and size, which will be flown by masters from Europe, Asia, and Australia; go-carts propelled by kites that will be available for rides; and candy drops from pinatas for the kiddies, who can learn to make and fly kites. Adults can buy and fly a kite right on the spot as well. Local eateries will be on hand peddling grub. Admission is free. Proceeds from kite sales go to Little Acorns crime and drug use prevention programs for kids. Call 305-667-7756. (NK)
Miami has its own version of small-town America in an area known as Miami Springs. Developed as a planned community in 1922 by aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss, who was unnerved by development run amok in nearby Hialeah (ha, he should see it now!), the suburb sprang up with a golf course (under which fifteen freshwater springs flowed), houses featuring back yards and setbacks, and a quaint business area arranged around a circular plaza. For more than twenty years the Springs River Festival has been an event anticipated by Miami Springs residents and visitors alike. The fun takes place downtown (NW 57th Avenue and Okeechobee Road) from 6:00 p.m. to midnight tonight, noon to midnight tomorrow, and noon to 8:00 p.m. Sunday. Among the fun things you can take part in: a river cleanup, canoe races, a chili cook-off, and a 5K walk/run. Or check out the arts and crafts, listen to all kinds of music on three separate stages, or just bring the rug rats and let them go wild while you chow down on festival fare. Admission is free. Call 305-871-3418. (NK)
Rooted in the belief that rap and reggae hold the cure for social ills, Wyclef Jean brings his third-annual benefit Carnival 1999 to Bayfront Park Amphitheater (301 Biscayne Blvd.) today. While the first Carnival took place in Haiti and last year's all-day event here had a multicultural emphasis, the current lineup is heavy on rap and hip-hop artists, including 8 Ball, Pras, Nas, MJG, and Xzibit. Eagle Eye Cherry, Haitian compas star Sweet Mickey, Kymani Marley, Ivy Queen, and others will also perform, joining Wyclef and the posse of performers he calls the Refugee Camp (formerly the Refugee All Stars). Usher, Aaliyah, and Timbaland are slated to MC. Gates open at noon. Tickets cost $20 in advance and $25 at the door, with proceeds going toward building two Wyclef Jean civic centers. Call 305-531-7177. (JC)
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Spend the day whooping it up at the Barnacle State Historic Site (3485 Main Hwy., Coconut Grove) when the Barnacle Society throws its annual Commodore's Birthday Party. The "Commodore" is the nickname given to Ralph Middleton Munroe, one of Coconut Grove's pioneers and founder of the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club. In 1896 Munroe built his house, the Barnacle, which is now part of the state park system. The society is devoted to maintaining the house and grounds and making sure its history is preserved. The bash goes on from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. and will feature music by the Backyard Band, an all-American picnic catered by Shorty's Bar-B-Q, and gourmet desserts courtesy of Society members. Admission is $25; kids get in for $5. Parking will be available down the street at Ransom-Everglades School on Main Highway. Call 305-448-9445. (NK)
Yeah, the Russians are known to be a dour bunch, but you'd be rather ticked off too if your country were in economic shambles. To be fair, Russians can be a barrel of fun when they're in a jovial mood. The exhibition Glasnost in Cartoons, opening today at the Miami-Dade Public Library (101 W. Flagler St.), shows off their witty and caustic side. Seventy-five cartoons satirizing and chronicling recent historical events in the former Soviet Union will be on display. Human rights, peace, freedom, and a clean environment are some of the themes of the colorful graphics. Many of the works were originally published in the Moscow News and Krokodil, Russia's acclaimed humor magazine. Also on display on the library's second floor: "Glasnost -- South Florida Perspective," showcasing works from 1985 to 1991 by cartoonists Jim Morin and Don Wright, who provide their perspectives on the Glasnost experience. The show runs through May 24. Admission is free. Call 305-375-2665. (NK)
One of the hottest jazz rooms in South Florida is ... a church. The Coral Gables Congregational Church (3010 De Soto Blvd., Coral Gables) continues its tradition of hosting some of the greatest jazz acts with a performance by Cleo Laine and John Dankworth at 8:00 tonight. Married for 40 years, singer Laine and saxophonist Dankworth are acclaimed as Great Britain's "first couple of jazz." Dankworth's electrifying style is the perfect accompaniment to his wife's daring vocals, which allow her to move smoothly from jazz to blues to pop standards. Their musical partnership has yielded a slew of Grammy Awards, success in the musical theater, and thousands of dates on their own or with symphony orchestras all over the world. Tickets range from $25 to $30. Call 305-448-7421. (NK)
Ricardo Pau-Llosa is just like you and me. During his hours off from being a poet, a professor in the English department at Miami-Dade Community College, an art critic, and, according to us, 1998's Best Local Author, he likes to hang out at bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and bookstores. The difference is that he usually ends up writing about his experiences in those places, as evidenced by Vereda Tropical, his latest collection of poems chock full of references to spots where you can eat, drink, dance, and soak up culture to your heart's content. So if in the last few years you made a fool of yourself in a bar and you happened to have met a friendly guy named Ricardo, don't be surprised if you've become poem fodder. Pau-Llosa reads at 8:00 tonight at Books & Books, 296 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables. Admission is free. Call 305-442-4408. (