On May 3, don't be surprised if the person standing next to you in a museum gallery suddenly bursts into dance.
In the spirited, spontaneous work "Soul Project" by improvisatory choreographer David Zambrano, dancers inhabit an open space such as a church or ballroom, and the piece starts with them emerging from the audience. This spring, the project is on its debut U.S. tour, and its seven dancers will perform at the contemporary galleries at Stanford's Cantor Arts Center in May, presented by Stanford Lively Arts.
In the three free performances set for noon, 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. (with the last one open only to Stanford students), dancers will perform to classic soul music. Zambrano's website states that the choreography "is realized through the individual movement quest of each performer as guided by soul music. Being continuously alive. On, like a candle." Each dance lasts the length of a song.
Reservations are required to obtain the free tickets. First-come, first-served tickets can be had at the Stanford Ticket Office at Tressider Memorial Union on campus, starting at noon on April 30. For more information, go to http://livelyarts.stanford.edu or call 650-725-ARTS.
'Then Sings My Soul'
Longtime jazz and blues singer Joyce Randolph delves into gospel, traditional hymns and other spiritual and sacred works this month as part of a benefit performance in Palo Alto. She's teaming up with jazz pianist Bill Bell, the 20-year chairman of the music department at the College of Alameda.
Titled "Then Sings My Soul," the concert benefits the Thomas Merton Center for Catholic Spirital Development in Palo Alto, and its work with St. Elizabeth Seton Elementary School. The Palo Alto Catholic school focuses on educating underserved students from the East Palo Alto area.
Randolph has education roots as well. In the 1970s, the Stanford University graduate was the vocal-music specialist for the Menlo Park City School Distrist. She then taught drama and college-prep English in San Jose's East Side Union High School District until retiring in 2004.
The concert is scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m. on April 29, at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, 751 Waverley St., Palo Alto. Tickets are $40, with discounts available for Merton Center members. Go to http://brownpapertickets.com or call 800-838-3006.
Another musical benefit for children's programs — ones in Nicaragua — is scheduled for next Thursday, April 26. Bethany Lutheran Church in West Menlo Park will host an Earth Day-themed performance by the Picasso Ensemble.
The program will include pieces by Handel, Turina and Ravel, as well as more recent music by California composers Karen Linford (a faculty member at Menlo School), Henry Cowell and D'Arcy Reynolds. The piece by Reynolds is "Rediscovering Eden," which she describes as being about "the process of humanity's evolution from pre-industrial times to the 'post-carbon era.'"
Ensemble musicians are: violinist Susan Brown, director of strings at Cabrillo College; cellist Victoria Ehrlich, a member of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra; pianist Jodi Gandolfi, who has taught at Stanford and U.C. Santa Cruz; and mezzo soprano Wendy Hillhouse, who is on the voice faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
The concert benefits the Children's Library of Pueblo Nuevo, Nicaragua, which was founded by teacher Kristina Mundera and serves many children who live in remote areas. The suggested donations for admission are $20 general and $10 for students.
The performance starts at 7 p.m. on April 26 at 1095 Cloud Ave. Go to http://picassoensemble.org or call 650-493-5046 for more information.
Romanian Film Festival
"Goldfaden's Legacy" traces the journey of Abraham Goldfaden, described by some as the father of Jewish theater, from Romania to Broadway. "The Red Gloves" tells a dark tale of the Communist regime in Romania working in 1957 to brutally quash any possible revolution.
Stories both triumphant and tragic make up the third Romanian Film Festival, which has screenings at Stanford University from April 27 through April 29. The event is put on by film scholars and movie buffs, and also includes panel discussions and lectures. This year's festival features both new and established filmmakers.
Radu Gabrea, the seasoned director of both "The Red Gloves" and "Goldfaden's Legacy," is scheduled to appear at an April 28 Q&A following a 6:30 p.m. showing of 2010's "Gloves," and in an April 29 panel discussion at 5:30 called "Realism and Black Humor: Romanian Film-School Aesthetics."
"Goldfaden's Legacy," released in 2004, will be shown at 3:30 p.m. April 28, with a panel discussion on Yiddish theater following.
Director Mona Nicoara will also take part in a Q&A, after a 7 p.m. screening of her film "Our School" on April 27. The 2011 movie centers on three Roma ("Gypsy") children integrating a rural Transylvanian school.
Events will be held in the Bechtel International Center, 584 Capistrano Way, Stanford University. Admission is free. Go to http://rofilmfestival.com .
Earth Day opening
Out at Palo Alto's Baylands Nature Preserve, celebrating Earth Day with the Palo Alto Art Center will take the form of canoe rides and art projects, an informational environmental mini-fair, tours of the city wastewater treatment plant, and the official opening of the art installation "Water Lilies," by Judith Selby Lang at 2375 Embarcadero Road.
Events start at 11 a.m. on April 22 with a food truck and the free mini-fair, where representatives of the groups Acterra, ZeroWaste, Environmental Volunteers and Canopy will be on hand. Free plant tours are at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. (call 650-329-2598 to reserve a spot).
"Water Lilies" will be dedicated at noon in all its shiny, plastic glory; the Bay Area artist is hoping to call attention to issues of pollution and recycling with her floating structures of plastic bottles and mirrors. Free canoe rides amble through the water from 12:30 to 3 p.m., and gratis art projects go from 1 to 3. Visitors may also see some animal life, courtesy of the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo.
For more, go to http://cityofpaloalto.org or call 650-329-2366.