Pole position

Choreographer Eliot Feld is remarkable at what he does: Not only are his dances respected around the world, but he’s also the mastermind behind the Ballet Tech School (a program with a budget of $3 million that trains kids in classical ballet for free). Who the hell knows how he does it?! Tonight, his Mandance Project, composed of male laureate dancers (and a few females), returns to the Joyce for its annual season of programs. The first program features the mythic Isis in Transit, set to the music of Steve Reich’s Violin Phase, and Undergo, created for dancer/choreographer Wu-Kang Chen and set to Meredith Monk’s haunting vocals, as well as two shorter pieces, the jamming Backchat and the darkly sensual Pursuing Odette. The second program showcases Chen and his HORSE collaborators from Taiwan in an evening-length work called Velocity, which was choreographed by the dancers themselves. At 7:30, through April 20, Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue, 212-691-9740, $25–$44




Raise a trout to the genius of Captain Beefheart

“I’m not a rock star,” Don Van Vliet (a/k/a Captain Beefheart) once corrected a journalist. “I’m a soft person. I’m not a rock.” Undeniably a true American original, modern-music innovator Van Vliet’s brash, bluesy avant-rock has influenced everyone from David Byrne to the White Stripes. Celebrate his contributions tonight at Beefheart Night at the Knit, which kicks off with a screening of rare Beefheart film clips and documentaries, followed by a reading of Van Vliet’s poems and some reminiscing, with Kurt Loder, Lee Ranaldo, Alan Vega, Roswell Rudd, Danny Fields, and Hal Willner, among others. While Van Vliet himself, who is busy these days with his career as a painter, isn’t expected to appear, fans will be treated to the next best thing—the long-awaited return of the acclaimed Beefheart instrumental cover band Fast ‘n’ Bulbous, featuring ex–Magic Band member and guitar virtuoso Gary Lucas, known as one of the best interpreters of the captain’s surreal compositions. At 8, Knitting Factory, 74 Leonard Street, 212-219-3132, $15–$20




Rappin’ and rockin’, NYC-style

New York native Saul Williams may never have found the perfect way to translate his big personality and manic energy into an exceptional album—last year’s collaboration with Trent Reznor, The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust!, felt at times like hand-to-hand combat—but he remains a top-tier showman. Live, he’s unhinged, still rapping with ferocity and singing with naïve force. Tonight, he teams up with Brooklyn’s Dragons of Zynth, whose debut, Coronation Thieves (produced by TV on the Radio’s David Sitek), certainly owes Williams’s long-gone debut, Amethyst Rock Star, a tiny debt. In the main, though, they’re deliriously untethered, a band unafraid of the possibilities of space, in all senses. At 8, the Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Place, 212-777-6800, $15