Wednesday March 1 Pretty plies: Ballet doesn't have to be stuffy anymore. When the dance company Ballet Eddy Toussaint U.S.A. hits the stage tonight at the Arvada Center, led by its progressive, Haitian-born choreographer/namesake, you'll be bowled over by a high-energy balance of ballet and jazz steps taken to an eclectic score that reaches musically from Brahms and Mahler to popular melodies of the '50s and '60s. Toussaint's light-footed troupe performs tonight at 7:30; tickets are $18 and can be reserved by calling 431-3939. The Arvada Center is located at 6901 Wadsworth Blvd.
Harmonica convergence: Amos Blakemore wasn't born with a silver harp in his mouth--as a young man in Chicago, he slaved on a soda truck to earn enough money to buy one he saw in a pawn shop. After a week he marched into the shop with his $1.50 earnings, only to swipe the prized instrument after he was told it would cost him $2. The case was settled in court when the judge asked him to play; to make a long story short, he blew the judge away and has been doing it to audiences ever since. These days, Blakemore is better known as bluesman Junior Wells, the harp blower who replaced Little Walter in the legendary Muddy Waters band. He later teamed up with Buddy Guy, then went out on his own, eventually fronting the eight-piece band he'll bring with him tonight to the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder. Tickets to the 9 p.m. show are $10.50; call 447-0095.
Thursday March 2 A lot of nerve: She's a brilliant sprite on the performance landscape--bold, entertaining and confident at all times. Some think Laurie Anderson single-handedly popularized the performance genre, making it palatable to the masses without succumbing to artlessness; when she took United States on the road back in the '80s, a whole generation embraced its multimedia barrage of images, music and theater as the wave of the future. Her latest work, The Nerve Bible, continues in that vein, utilizing--among other things--music from her album Bright Red, computer-generated animation and state-of-the art digital gadgetry. It all goes on tonight at 7:30 at the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Pl. Admission is $23.50; for tickets call 830-TIXS.
June of all trades: A major voice in the African-American canon, June Jordan is not only a poet, essayist and playwright, but she also takes a strong stand on political issues and lectures as a professor at the University of California at Berkeley. Jordan will bring her ideas and rich language to the St. Cajetan's Center on the Auraria campus today, where she appears as a guest of Metropolitan State College of Denver. Jordan will speak at 3:30 p.m.; afterward, she'll meet the public at a reception to be held from 5:30 to 6:30 in the Tivoli Student Union, room 320. Admission to both events is free; call 556-2595 for additional information.
Come Helms or high water: The controversy stirred by the works of contemporary American artist Andres Serrano--large-format cibachrome prints depicting subjects including corpses, bodily fluids and homeless people--almost overshadows the works themselves. Some of the more graphic pieces raised the ire of U.S. Senator Jesse Helms, who went on the warpath against federal arts funding in 1989. But Serrano perseveres and is the current subject of a retrospective at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. He'll tell his side of the story and discuss his work tonight at 7 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 W 14th Ave. Pkwy. A $3 donation is suggested; call 640-7597 for reservations.
Friday March 3 The music of chance: Fresh improvisational music will be doubly represented this evening as two of the more interesting local ensembles strut their stuff. Fred Hess, whose first CD, Sweet Thunder, garnered rave reviews, will debut his latest, You Know I Care, with the help of his friends--including Ron Miles on trumpet, Mark Harris and Glenn Nitta on saxophones, Mark Simon on bass and Rudy Royston on drums, as well as members of the Columbine String Quartet--tonight at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax. The evening, which will be videotaped for Jazz Alley TV, begins around 8. Call 322-2308 for tickets; they're $8. Meanwhile, at the First Divine Science Church, 1400 Williams St., Michael Stanwood's Buzz Band performs on ancient instruments from around the world, including everything from an Australian didgeridoo to the Indian tambura and tablas. Tickets for that 7:30 show are $8 ($6 students and seniors). The Buzz Band performs again tomorrow night at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder; for details about either show call 333-4579 or 758-0873.
Public images: A pair of striking photographic exhibitions open tonight at the Mackey Gallery, 2900 W. 25th Ave. Patricia Barry Levy's Industrial/Sensual Series juxtaposes machinery with human forms, while Christopher James's Time and Place focuses on detailed yet dreamy Denver landscapes shot at night. A reception will be held tonight from 7 to 10; both exhibits run through April 1. For information call 455-1157. And if that whets your appetite for images of local structures, you may have time to stop by the new American Institute of Architects' Gallery Space, 1526 15th St., where Windows on Architecture--featuring designs of LoDo projects--opens with a reception from 5 to 8. The exhibit ends May 14; call 446-2266.
Saturday March 4 This is the modern world: The gray castle known as the Denver Art Museum took a giant leap this week when new architecture, design and graphics galleries opened and modern and contemporary collections found new homes at the ever-expanding location at 100 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy. The design installation now ranks among the country's largest, representing stylistic movements of the past 250 years, while the reconfigured Stanton Gallery now houses Options: 1, an exhibition from the museum's twentieth-century collection. In addition, the newly opened Close Range Gallery spotlights important regional artists. As always, museum admission is free from 10 to 5 Saturdays--what better way to see what's new? For information call 640-2793.
All the muses that fit: Have you ever put yourself into the shoes of a music teacher? They bravely accept all the sour notes and unpracticed melodies with a smile and a grain of encouragement--but what do they do when the students leave? Find out tonight at 8 at the Swallow Hill Teachers Concert when the music association's faithful crew of instrumental know-it-alls get to show what they can do. The teachers will trot out a dizzying selection of genres, riffs and runs at the Cameron Church, 1600 S. Pearl St. Admission to the once-a-year concert is $13 ($11 members); call 777-1003.
Sunday March 5 The hot Rockwells: Small-town America never had a better champion than nostalgic illustrator Norman Rockwell, whose sentimental scenes graced mid-century covers of The Saturday Evening Post and other magazines. A collection of archival works--limited-edition lithographs and collotypes--not available for viewing since before Rockwell died in 1978 can now be seen at the Circle Gallery, 221 Detroit St., where they'll hang through March 19. Collectors and the soft-hearted can call Circle 377-8706 for gallery hours or further information.
Monday March 6 From the hands of babes: Artistic youngsters in China no longer stick to the traditional and austere Asian black-ink techniques--just take a look at Reflections of a Changing China: Children's Art From the People's Republic of China, a new exhibit opening today at the Goodson Recreation Center, 6315 S. University Blvd. It bursts with color. And rather than being limited to natural themes, the show's subject matter ranges from popular Chinese cartoon characters to the same ubiquitous television sets and electronic toys that captivate our own capitalist Western tykes. Visit the center from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays or 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends; the exhibition, sponsored by the Asian Coordinating Council, continues through April 3.
Tuesday March 7 Take a diva: Opera Colorado opens its season with a splash, marked by the return of soprano Elizabeth Holleque, who wowed 'em in last year's Madama Butterfly. This year, the silver-piped Holleque takes the helm in Puccini's Tosca, playing Floria Tosca--a role she'll reprise opposite Luciano Pavarotti at the Met not long after her Denver appearances are over. Performances continue tonight and March 10 at 8 p.m., and at 2 p.m. March 12 in the Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex. Ticket prices range from $15 to $116; reserve seats by calling 830-TIXS or 98-