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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Young eyes get just a little wider under the spell of Willy Wonka’s world of pure imagination.

Charlie is a poor but do-right kid who, through luck and a sweet tooth, wins one of five golden tickets to tour the secretive Mr. Wonka’s chocolate factory. Once inside, Charlie finds experimental treats, Oompa Loompas, and justice mitigated by a bad egg chute as the fantasy unfolds.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will be performed by the Children’s Theater Group at Hubbard Hall (25 E. Main Street, Cambridge) on Saturday and Sunday (Feb. 14 and 15) at 2 PM. Tickets are $12 adults, $10 members, $5 students and children. For reservations and information, call 677-2495.

Ol’ Dirty Bastard

Some have known him as Big Baby Jesus. Others have called him by the names of Osirus, Dirt Dog and Unique Ason. He answers to his mama as Russell Jones. These days, that big, lovable, crazy-as-hell ex-con we know best as Ol’ Dirty Bastard (ODB for short) is calling himself Dirt McGirt, and he’s touring the nation to stump for the presidency of the United States of America. Yes, this is the same man who cofounded the superstar hiphop collaborative Wu-Tang Clan. This is also the same man who brought us such deeply cerebral and poetic jams as “I Wanna F**k” and “I Want P***y.” At least we know what his platform consists of. In addition to his political aspirations, ODB is, on a more serious level, out to promote his soon-to-be-released fourth solo CD (the “self-titled” Dirt McGirt) and a new signature line of clothing. Apparently making up for lost time—for those who are out of the loop, Dirty was incarcerated for the better part of the last three years—Dirty is also putting the finishing touches on a live DVD, which will be screened in movie theaters to coincide with the release of the new album in March.

Ol’ Dirty Bastard performs tonight (Thursday, Feb. 12) at 8:30 PM at Pearl Street (10 Pearl St., Northampton, Mass.), with Rhythm Ruckus and Prolyphic opening. Tickets are $25. For reservations and information, call (413) 584-7771.

Dance Flurry Festival

Paul Rosenberg has managed to turn being a lousy dancer into a full-time career. Arguably one of the best-known contra-dance callers in the region, Rosenberg, with his group Homespun Occassions, plays schools, weddings, bar mitzvahs, reunions, barn dances and senior centers. That’s not counting his regular contra-dance series and weekly fiddle jam session in Albany, monthly family dances in Albany and Saratoga Springs, the Lake George Family Dance and Music Weekend, and his biggest undertaking, the Dance Flurry Festival, coming up this weekend in Saratoga Springs.

Rosenberg says he never expected the 17-year-old Dance Flurry to become a three-day event drawing 4,000 dancers and 700 performers from storytellers to jugglers spread out over four venues. One of many highlights this year will be the presence of Frankie Manning, the influential 90-year-old lindy hopper who will be teaching workshops and sharing in the fun. Also, there will be concerts at Caffe Lena with artists like jazz singer Carol Daggs and Duplex Planet writer David Greenberger backed by the Jupiter Circle chamber ensemble—“for the dance phobic.”

Until about 20 years ago, Rosenberg was the kind of person who would slink off to the men’s room at a wedding when the dancing began. He remembers spending entire high school dances off in a corner, a cup of Coke firmly gripped in his hand. Today, when people want to sit on the sidelines at one of his dances, he tells them, “Nobody could be worse than me.”

It was an old girlfriend who introduced him to contra dancing (think Virginia reel, with live fiddle music and constantly shifting partners) when he was about 30 years old.

“She told me I would like the sense of community—she was right—and the music. And the dancing was easy.”

Even so, it took 11 months for Rosenberg to try it again.

“I was intimidated by so many people having a good time. Like other beginners, I felt like I was in the way.”

Eventually, Rosenberg got over his shyness and became a regular in the 1980s Albany contra-dance scene. That’s when he realized there was a niche for a local caller—most were brought in from out of the area—who would take the time to make newcomers feel comfortable. Two years ago, he quit his “typical state job using none of my talents” and became one of the few people in the contra-dance community able to support themselves from their passion.

“A lot of callers think the goal is to get everybody to be a regular. I don’t think that. A lot of people think it would be perfect for their wedding. The regular contra-dance crowd forgets about that. They forget their roots. Just getting together and comradeship is just the greatest thing.”

The Dance Flurry certainly offers numerous opportunities for comradeship. The festival offers, according to its press materials, “over 300 hours of dancing and instruction for all ages and abilities, including contra, tango, swing, hiphop, English, Cajun, African and more.”

“A lot of people say, ‘You’ve made the Flurry too big.’ [But] there are so few good things that are big. I think once in a while it’s OK to have huge events. I don’t have a goal of taking over the city. On the other hand, if it happens . . . ”

Tickets are available per session, per day or for the entire weekend. The Flurry starts tomorrow (Friday, Feb. 13), with a session from 7 PM to 2 AM. On Saturday (Feb. 14), the session runs from 9 AM to 2 AM, and on Sunday (Feb. 15), from 9 AM to 6:30 PM. Events are held at venues all around Saratoga Springs, but the center of activity is at the City Center and Prime Hotel and Conference Center (Broadway, Saratoga Springs). The complete schedule, shoe requirements and the prices of various workshops can be viewed at www.danceflurry.org. For more information, call 292-0133.

—Kathryn Ceceri


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