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ART

JOSIAH MCELHENYThe historical theories behind "Theories About Reflection," which range from Athanasius Kircher's experiments in the geometry of illusion to Buckminster Fuller's proposal to Noguchi for an abstraction of total reflection, are invisible to the naked eye. But McElheny's latest quicksilver glassworks in mirrored chrome or aluminum vitrines are spectacularly quixotic displays. Never mind that the conceptual underpinnings are less seductive than the impeccable reflective objects. Luminous and transcendent in the second gallery, Modernity, Mirrored and Reflected Infinitelycould carry this show all alone. THROUGH APRIL 19, Brent Sikkema, 530 West 22nd Street, 212-929-2262. (Levin)

WILLIAM WEGMANOnce again, Wegman pulls off the old switcheroo: He turns the ridiculous into the sublime. Fabulously illogical and brilliantly synthetic, his two big panoramic paintings and several small ones run riffs around vintage postcards of vacation paradises and tourist sites. Mementos of picturesque grottoes, bridges, seashores, ski slopes, cog railways, thatched roofs, and Hugo the happy killer whale expand into dizzying archipelagoes, Möbius loops, and twisted globalized vistas. The Far West merges with the Far East, and Wall Street meets the Wailing Wall in tunneling, careening space. The results are both mind-bending and visually glorious. THROUGH SATURDAY, Sperone Westwater, 415 West 13th Street, 212-999-7337. (Levin)

Reunited and it feels so good: Byrne and Leichter perform Thursday and Friday at symphony space (see dance).
photo: B. McCormick
Reunited and it feels so good: Byrne and Leichter perform Thursday and Friday at symphony space (see dance).

DANCE

BILL YOUNG AND DANCERSDancers from California, Florida, and North Carolina join others from Guyana, Venezuela, Albania, Cape Verde, and Greece on the roster of Young's lush, athletic, physically interdependent ensemble, now in its 20th year of delighting international audiences. New to New York is Rein, Bellow, inspired by Gabriel García Marquez and with a score by Philip Hamilton. Completing the program is the fast-paced Bent, to a techno-mix by Mio Morales. WEDNESDAY, THURSDAY, AND SATURDAY AT 8 AND SUNDAY AT 2 AND 7, the Duke on 42nd Street, 229 West 42nd Street, 212-415-5552. (Zimmer)

NICHOLAS LEICHTER & CLARE BYRNEThey met at Connecticut College a dozen years ago, and both subsequently formed troupes; Byrne danced in Leichter's ensemble for six years. They reunite for an evening of nostalgia and experiment. On this bill, performed in front of the Thalia's screen, the two choreographers offer each other's solos and duets, to Tchaikovsky, Lauryn Hill, and Mariah Carey tunes, plus a new collaborative work to a duet by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway. THURSDAY AND FRIDAY AT 8:30, Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theatre, Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway, 212-864-5400. (Zimmer)

FILM

'THE MIDDLE OF THE WORLD: CLASSIC AND CONTEMPORARY SWISS CINEMA'There's a pleasing mix of vintage and new, features and docs, in this celebration of films from the heart of Europe, which includes rarities from the local cinematheque and an example of pre-Italian neo-realism. Alain Tanner is much in evidence, as is his post-World War II precursor, Leopold Lindtberg. The documentaries Mutter, Forget Baghdad, and Escape to Paradise all evoke Switzerland's paradoxical position as international refuge. OPENS FRIDAY, THROUGH MAY 1, Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th Street, 212-875-5600. (Hoberman)

'MUHAMMAD ALI, THE GREATEST'You can see the '60s dawn in the pop art first half of William Klein's superbly entertaining documentary, which concerns the former Cassius Clay's upset victories over Sonny Liston. Shot 10 years later, the second half shows Ali regaining his title for the second time, beating George Foreman in Zaire. This is by far the most evocative movie ever made about Ali; it's being revived for the first time in years in a new 35mm print. FRIDAY THROUGH APRIL 24, Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, 212-727-8110. (Hoberman)

'THE TEXT OF LIGHT'William Blake found eternity in a grain of sand; in an astonishing film at once concrete and abstract, Stan Brakhage filmed the world through the prism of a clunky glass ashtray to produce this feature-length 1974 masterpiece. There's nothing to "read" in The Text of Light except a totally other way of making a movie. SUNDAY, Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue, 212-505-5181. (Hoberman)

MUSIC

ROBERT ASHLEYOld people—a community so marginalized it doesn't even have a future to look forward to—are the subject of Ashley's "Celestial Excursions," which has its domestic premiere tonight. America's most inventive and ambitious opera composer seamlessly interweaves several natural-language recitatives (performed by Thomas Buckner, Sam Ashley, and Joan La Barbara, among others), pop-song nostalgia, pre-recorded electronics, and "Blue" Gene Tyranny's homey piano playing into what should be a witty, moving, and densely textured meditation on aging, memory, and the great unknown. WEDNESDAY THROUGH SATURDAY AT 8, the Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street, 212-255-5793. (Gehr)

CAROLINER RAINBOWConceivably insane nutjobs from Frisco around for almost 20 years, comparable to Sun City Girls in their fucked-up beauty, collectors-only releases, mysterious identities, and anti-audiophile antics. One of 'em, who goes by the moniker Timber Amplifier, complained in an online interview that "there is no station locally that will respond to our requests for entire Dock Boggs LPs, demonstration of early American electronics/instruments, Hal Holbrook's Mark Twain LPs, and sounds of train routes across the U.S." Which pretty well defines their noise perimeters, except with babies' mouths full of sand and staples squeaking Butthole Surfers oldies mixed in. They haven't toured in centuries, almost. And when they do, they bring some terrifying props. With Nautical Almanac & Carlos Giffoni and Ortho. THURSDAY AT 9, Northsix, 66 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, 718-599-5103. (Eddy)

CLONE DEFECTS+ANDY G & THE ROLLER KINGSOne could argue that Clone Defects are the most legitimately "Detroit-sounding" of the myriad great garage gangs to have slithered out of the Motor City in the past half-decade, and one might be right. But really, the slavering concrete-jungle whines, solar-system obsession, and irreverently downscale art touches (sci-fi feedback, surf twang, extended drones, drunken boogie-woogie motion) on 2001's Blood on Jupiter and their even more feral new Shapes of Venus sound closer to classic Cleveland—Rocket From the Tombs, Dead Boys, Electric Eels. Local sax-honky hoods Andy G and the Roller Kings, opening on Friday, are recommended to anyone who doubts Rocket From the Crypt could be more fun. FRIDAY AT 9, Siberia, 356 West 40th Street, 212-333-4141; SATURDAY AT 8:30, Sin-é, 150 Attorney Street, 212-388-0077. (Eddy)

THE JAYHAWKSA friend of mine has chosen the Jayhawks' surreally wistful Hollywood Town Hall as his "war album," summing up as it does a certain sad out-of-placeness and futile shame. As of late re-smitten with their band's bygone rurality, Gary Louris and Marc Perlman have turned their late-'90s pop-bombastic Smile upside down and taken to staring out the window for the Byrdsy, Buffalo Spring-fried Rainy Day Music. These acoustic sets promise to skid further in that direction. And it may be just the thing. With Tim Easton. THURSDAY AT 8, Warsaw, 261 Driggs Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-387-5252; SATURDAY AT 10, Maxwell's, 1039 Washington Street, Hoboken, New Jersey, 201-653-1703. (Sinagra)

ANNIE LENNOXNo anodyne androgyne, she. Watching the well-tailored Bowie-drag of "Sweet Dreams" on JumboTron at the staid Grammy proceedings this year was a mindblower (just like any casual flip past VH1 Classic during a new wave flashback). These days, life in slicked garages and techno-caves can feel like walking on broken glass. So even if her reunion with Dave Stewart didn't re-knight her as the diva of 1999, in these dichotomous times, any Lennox is something to dandy up for. MONDAY AT 8, Apollo Theater, 253 West 125th Street, 212-531-5305. (Sinagra)

DAVID MURRAYIn recent years, the tenor saxophonist and bass clarinetist found a new rhythmic home in the music of Guadaloupe and especially in Gwo-Ka, leading first to Creole and then the more radical Yonn-Dé, a collaboration with the Gwo-Ka Masters, including drummers Klod Kiavué and Philippe Makaia, who will visit for this concert, a first. They will work with Murray's quartet: trumpeter Hugh Ragin, bassist Jaribu Shahid, and the remarkable Chicago drummer Hamid Drake. Murray had done extraordinary things in this hall, and this concert, the second in the World Music Institute's "Africa in the Americas" series, will be no exception. SATURDAY AT 8, Aaron Davis Hall, West 135 Street and Convent Avenue, 212-650-7100. (Giddins)

WILLIE NELSON & FRIENDSIn conjunction with the USA Network, your friends at Clear Channel present a 70th birthday celebration for a singer and guitarist who's generally pretty great backed by nobody but the friends of 30 years in his band. Among the 16 announced special guests: Merle Haggard, Jerry Lee Lewis, ZZ Top, Norah Jones, and, uh-oh, Toby Keith, who I hope but don't believe will tastefully avoid his Willie duet on that string-'em-up song. WEDNESDAY AT 8, Beacon Theater, 2124 Broadway, 212-496-7070. (Christgau)

CLARK TERRYA luminous and unmistakable stylist, Terry lights up a room. At 82, he continues to make the trumpet soar, whimper, or chortle, as the occasion demands, and he leads one of the classiest quintets around, with saxophonist Dave Glasser, pianist Don Friedman (whose old Riversides are worth searching out), Marcus McLaurine, and Sylvia Cuenca. You expect to be entertained, but it's when Terry burrows into a solo, skipping through the changes with wily pluck, that you shake your head in wonder and remember how deep laughter can cut. THURSDAY THROUGH SATURDAY AT 9 AND 11, Birdland, 315 West 44th Street, 212-581-3080. (Giddins)

PHOTO

NAN GOLDINPerhaps because she's made us all feel like members of her extended family, Goldin's big, sprawling shows are always events. The latest, "Heartbeat," and its attendant slide show revolve largely around photographs of three couples at home, often in the nude, frequently making love. This is fertile, if familiar, territory for Goldin, and she brings back gorgeously lit, effortlessly composed images from her forays into these bedrooms. Though for the first time I couldn't help wondering, What the hell is she doing there? Goldin remains irresistibly seductive. And maybe that answers my question. THROUGH APRIL 19, Matthew Marks Gallery, 522 West 22nd Street, 212-243-0200. (Aletti)

ADI NESThis Israeli photographer makes an impressive New York solo debut with a group of color images that—like Jeff Wall's, Justine Kurland's, and Collier Schorr's—are so convincingly staged they sometimes feel like documents. But because many of Nes's photos are inspired by mythology or history painting and involve handsome soldiers in vaguely homoerotic situations (in one series, they're sleeping nestled together on a bus), they also have the dreamy quality of fantasies fulfilled. The interplay of reality and artifice gives Nes's work a tension that keeps its lush sensuality neatly in check. THROUGH SATURDAY, Jack Shainman Gallery, 513 West 20th Street, 212-645-1701. (Aletti)

THEATER

'CARMILLA'The late Wilford Leach's ETC Company at La MaMa specialized in outré multimedia music-theater works that usually evoked meanings just beyond the visible. One of the eeriest was this 1970 opera, set to lustrous, wide-ranging music by Ben Johnston, based on Sheridan Le Fanu's famous vampire tale, its unspoken lesbian undercurrent always present as the story's tension racks up. The current production, with Leach's staging restored by Ellen Stewart, reunites most of the original company, with guest artist John Kelly as the Mountebank (originally played by the troupe's co-director John Braswell). The bulk of the action takes place on an ornately carved bench; keep an eye on those carvings. OPENS THURSDAY, THROUGH APRIL 27, La MaMa ETC, 74A East 4th Street, 212-475-7710. (Feingold)

'DAISY MAYME'George Kelly's 1926 comedy, about a brash businesswoman who monkeys with the domestic affairs of a house where she's an unexpected guest, arrived just after his three big Broadway classics (The Torch-Bearers, The Show Off, and Craig's Wife) and has languished, mostly unperformed, in their shadow. All the more reason to check out the Pearl's revival, directed by Russell Treyz, with a cast headed by Pearl company members Rachel Botchan, Robin Leslie Brown (in the title role), and Joanne Camp. You've certainly never seen the play before, and—depending on how well it holds up at the Pearl—you may or may not get a chance to see it again. So think of Harriet Craig and get going. IN PREVIEWS, OPENS SUNDAY, Pearl Theatre, 80 St. Marks Place, 212-598-9802. (Feingold)

'THE NEW YORKERS'Can a Park Avenue debutante marry a bootlegger? Cole Porter wrote one of his greatest scores in 1930 while trying to solve this pressing dramatic problem. A hymn to the high and low dives of our party-loving Baghdad on the subway (as they used to call NYC), the show initially caused scandal by displaying hookers who sang "Love for Sale" on Central Park South; the producers answered complaints by changing the vocalists' race and moving the scene to Harlem. Heaven knows what the Musicals Tonight! concert staging will do to Herbert Fields's droll script, but if you happen to like New York, you'll get plenty of musical pleasure. THROUGH APRIL 20, 14th Street YMHA, Mainstage, 334 East 14th Street, 212-206-1515. (Feingold)

'THE WOMEN OF LOCKERBIE'Greek tragedy meets contemporary terrorism in Deborah Brevoort's stylized drama, mapping the bitter bond shared by the families of those who died over Lockerbie on Pan Am Flight 103 and the local Scotswomen on whose heads and homes the wreckage showered. Written some years ago, Brevoort's work arrives here with its relevance greatly increased. Wilson Milam's production features a cast headed by Judith Ivey and Larry Pine. THROUGH MAY 11, St. Clement's, 423 West 46th Street, 212-279-4200. (Feingold)

WORDS

PAUL ELIEIn the wake of Joyce's pervasive portrait of the artist, to be a believing Catholic artist appears a timid and self-limiting proposition, yet in The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage, Elie makes a convincing case that religious traditionalism can both inform and embolden the artistic process. Interweaving biography and literary criticism, he chronicles the progress of Catholic Workerco-founder Dorothy Day, homo viator Walker Percy, poet-monk-spiritual philosopher Thomas Merton, and Southern Gothic master Flannery O'Connor as they negotiate their callings to art and faith. THURSDAY AT 7:30, Barnes & Noble, 4 Astor Place, 212-420-1322. (Reidy)

'KEROUAC'S HAIKUS'"The bottoms of my shoes/ are wet/from walking in the rain." Though famous for free-flowing, manic storytelling, Kerouac also came to embrace the strict formula of this centuries-old Japanese genre. The result: hundreds of three-line meditations on quotidian American life, moonlight, and raindrops. Music producer and Beat friend Hal Willner gathers a flock of performers to celebrate the publication of Kerouac's Book of Haikus.WEDNESDAY AT 8, the Poetry Project, St. Mark's Church, Second Avenue and 10th Street, 212-674-0910. (Meyer)

'THE PEOPLE'S POETRY GATHERING'Highlights of this raucous three-day celebration include "Poe in the Graveyard" at midnight, a Beowulf performance, drinking ballads and erotic poetry at an all-night Bowery Poetry Club party, and a folk concert with Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger. Aside from plenty of poetry and music, expect films, slams, and panel discussions. Slated poets include Galway Kinnell, Martin Espada, Anne Waldman, Charles Bernstein, C.K. Williams, and Grace Paley. FRIDAY THROUGH SUNDAY, VARIOUS VENUES, 212-529-1955, peoplespoetry.org. (Winterton)

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