If the idea of Chautauqua performances leave you cold, maybe you just have the wrong impression of them. The scholarly dramatizations of historic figures don't always have to resurrect a bunch of old moldies from the distant past; for proof, look no further than the High Plains Chautauqua, hosted annually in Greeley by the Colorado Endowment for the Humanities. This year the HPC revisits mid-twentieth-century culture in post-WWII America with Shake, Rattle and Roll: 1945-1960, featuring performances, lectures, youth programs, exhibits and more. And who will be represented on stage? Not your usual palette of founding fathers, first ladies and famous politicians: The multicultural roster of characters includes Chicano union activist César Ch´vez, African-American Renaissance man Paul Robeson, pioneering ecologist Rachel Carson, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Senator Joe McCarthy and President Harry Truman. Chautauqua events, which are free, continue today through Saturday at AIMS Community College, 5401 West 20th Street in Greeley; for details, call 303-894-7951 or visit www.highplainschautauqua.org.
The metamorphosing soundtrack of Chicano life will be showcased during El Centro Su Teatro's ninth annual Chicano Music Festival, a five-day roots-fest that's come to be a community get-together as much as a series of performances celebrating the unique aural mix from the borderlands linking Mexico and the U.S. From traditional corridos to tejano pop to mariachi music, this party has it all covered, with daily concerts through Sunday. Along the way, enjoy the Chicano Hall of Fame inductions, ongoing benefit auctions and special guests Dr. Loco and the Rockin' Jalapeño Band, who play on Friday and Saturday. All events take place at El Centro, 4725 High Street. Daily ticket prices range from $8 to $18; an all-festival pass is $35. For details and showtimes, call 303-296-0219 or go to www.suteatro.org.
Friday, August 5
Summer becomes the Art Students League of Denver, where adult workshops and kids' camps are in full bloom, along with the ASLD garden, which sits right across the street. To celebrate the season, the organization will host Artful Gardens or Garden Art, a benefit exhibit featuring art of, and for, the garden; it opens today with a reception from 5:30 to 8 p.m. and runs through August 19. A percentage of sales from the show, which includes both garden scenes for the wall and outdoor sculptures and fountains, will be earmarked for plants and maintenance in the League's little patch of earth. Festivities continue in the same vein tomorrow at Art Beat!, a musical concert at 5:30 p.m. in the garden, augmented by artists at work among the blossoms. Admission is $5 to $10, or $8 to $12 per couple; artist space is first come, first served. The Art Students League of Denver is at 200 Grant Street; call 303-778-6990 or visit www.asld.org.
Deep down inside, it's probably every dancer's desire to fly, but aside from a few adventurous Icarus types who willingly launch themselves into space despite the consequences, aerial dancers come the closest to actually lifting off, though they do it with a little help from their props. And they'll float through the air with the greatest of ease, those daring young dancers on the flying trapeze (or swath of fabric, rope and harness, aerial hoop and bungee cord) at the Aerial Dance Festival 2005, a two-week intensive workshop hosted annually in Boulder by Frequent Flyers Productions Inc. And while intrepid students swing around the classroom, the rest of us get to join in during public performances featuring faculty dancers from some of the top aerial dance troupes across the nation. Shows are at 8 p.m. tonight and 2 and 8 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday at the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut Street in Boulder. For tickets, $21 to $31, call 303-245-8272 or log on to www.frequentflyers.org.
Saturday, August 6
The folks at the Capitol Hill Animal Care Center invite pet owners to bring their perfectly normal, less-than-perfect pooches and pusses to the clinic this morning at 9 a.m. -- not for a checkup, but to compete in a Fat Cat/Ugly Dog Contest that really tells it like it is. The best (or worst?) contestants will be awarded with cash prizes, but all participants will receive freebies, and there's no fee to enter. The center is at 2660 East Colfax Avenue; call 303-329-3131 or visit www.caphillvet.com for information.
Sunday, August 7
One of the city's favorite free concert series, City Park Jazz, is about to pack it in for the year. How did you let the season get away from you? There's nothing quite like picnicking on the grass west of Ferril Lake, sipping wine or lemonade and listening to music as the kids dance in front of the stage and the sun sinks behind you. So grab this last chance: Tonight's concert, featuring Lisa Bell and Crescendo, starts at 6 p.m. at the City Park Pavilion, near 17th Avenue and Colorado Boulevard. For details, go to www.cityparkjazz.org/fullschedule.htm.
Monday, August 8
All in good fun: The state's finest will go head-to-head against... the state's finest at the Colorado Police and Fire Games, a week-long series of nearly twenty athletic events ranging from softball and paintball to in-line hockey and horseshoes. The games, which start today and continue through August 14, are open to active or retired law enforcement and fire personnel, affiliates and spouses, and are played at venues all over the metro area, where added cheers from the sidelines are welcome. Matches begin with continuous ice-hockey play today from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Magness Arena, 2201 East Asbury Avenue. For schedule and location information, visit www.cpfaa.org or call 720-865-9564.