Festival of Dance Dance, music and film are the themes of this year's Collective Soles Dance Festival, which occurs Jan. 6-8 at the University of South Florida in Tampa. The main event (or, really, the event that sounds most appealing) is this evening's Happy Feet Film Presentation, a screening of rare dance footage with expert observations by film historian/preservationist Bob DeFlores. For your viewing pleasure (and almost certainly for his own), DeFlores has collected and restored over 6,000 works, including rare dance performances, jazz and big-band material, as well as special short films starring Bill Robinson, Eleanor Powell, The Nicholas Brothers, Fred Astaire, Shirley Temple, Sammy Davis Jr. and many others (7:30 p.m., $5 general/$3 students and seniors). Additional happenings include classes and workshops (Fri.-Sat., $20-$80, call for details), community dance projects (4:30-6:30 tonight; 9-10:30 a.m. Sat.), and a Youth Artist Showcase (2 p.m. Sat.). The event comes to a close Saturday evening with a guest artist dance show and musical performances by Bob Macar, John Tarsi and members of South Town Fever (8 p.m., $15 general/$10 students and seniors). For more information, call Troy at 813-789-6033. USF College of Visual and Performing Arts Theater I, 4202 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa, 813-974-2323.
Remembering Royalty I grew up listening to The Beatles, and my love of them fostered a deep-seated aversion to anything Elvis. You see, like most other Fab Four fans, I was under the misguided impression that it was The King, not Richard Nixon, who tried to have John Lennon deported. Time, maturity and a little research has altered my bias, and I can now appreciate his music. And although — in my opinion — he was more an entertainer than a musician and only imitated the style of black blues artists of the time, his impact on rock 'n' roll is undeniable. Regrettably, my new found respect came several years too late to see Elvis perform, so I'm faced with either watching recorded footage or checking out impersonators like Mike Albert, who appears at Mahaffey Theater for Remembering Elvis. Albert's been called "The World's Finest Elvis Impressionist" by NBC's A Current Affair, and he's won some pretty impressive competitions, including the "Images of Elvis" contest in 1996, an annual event in Memphis where he managed to out-Elvis more than 100 other entrants. Back by popular demand (or so Mahaffey tells me), Albert is accompanied by his seven-piece Big "E" Band. 8 p.m. $20-$34. 400 First St. S., St. Petersburg, 727-892-5767.
Starry Night of History The Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center is literally brimming with new shows. In fact, the center is so jam-packed that it's presenting two plays, simultaneously, in the Shimberg Playhouse. The first is Vincent, written by beloved Star Trek-star-turned-author/playwright Leonard Nimoy. Vincent is a one-man show based on more than 500 letters written by Van Gogh to his brother in the late 1800s, letters representing a spiritual and creative progression through the last 10 years of the artist's life. USF graduate F. Reed Brown has performed the piece since 1999, and locals can enjoy a reprisal of his roles as Vincent and his brother, Theo Van Gogh. Following Vincent is Jobsite Theater's production of The Complete History of America (abridged), a play that offers a short and snappy breakdown of our country's glorious past using satire, vaudeville and circus humor (i.e., giant, goofy props, silly wigs and bad musical numbers). Katrina Stevenson directs and the show features local actors Jason Vaughan Evans, David M. Jenkins and Shawn Paonessa. Show times for Vincent: 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 4 p.m. Sun., Jan. 7-9, and 8 p.m. Thu.-Fri., 2 p.m. Sat., Jan. 13-15; show times for History: 10 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 7 p.m. Sun., Jan. 7-23. Tickets to both performances are $18.50. TBPAC, 1010 N. MacInnes Place, Tampa, 813-229-7827.
Teapot Party Oh, lovely little teapot, born of human necessity, a spouted, steaming servant to centuries of caffeine seekers, dismissed by the instant gratification of teabags and alternative heating methods. Little teapot, you represent both the comforts of solitude and the pleasures of good company, your delicate curves appreciated via exhibits like Clay and Paper's A Passion for Pottery II — Teapots. This invitational showing features teapots by 10 American potters who offer their own interpretations of the ancient art form. Fred Johnston's salt-glazed pieces originated from the Southern folk pottery of North Carolina but are also influenced by Greek, Korean, Chinese, pre-Columbian and European pottery; Stephen Fabrico carves images and patterns into his pottery, then allows the glaze to enhance the carving by creating light and dark areas naturally, similar to techniques utilized by ancient Chinese and Korean potters; and Fong Choo utilizes hand-built and wheel-thrown techniques to make his signature miniature jewel-tone teapots. Other featured artists include Barbara Knutson, Stanley Mace Anderson, Chuck Solberg, Ira Burhans, Kevin Hluch, Donna Craven and Terry Gess. The opening reception occurs this evening from 7 to 9 p.m., and the teapots are on display through Feb. 27. Regular hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Clay and Paper Gallery, 350 Main St., Dunedin, 727-736-0934.
Puccini's Bohemians When Giacomo Puccini finished composing La Boheme, he was so moved by the demise of one of the characters that he cried. "Standing in the middle of the study," he later wrote, "alone in the silence of the night, I began to weep like a child. It was as though I had seen my own child die." Based on a story by Henry Murger, La Boheme recounts the joys and sorrows of four impoverished artists living in the Latin Quarter of early 19th-century Paris. The plot primarily revolves around two romances: the first and most significant relationship between Rodolfo the poet and his neighbor, Mimi; and the more subplot-y romance between his best friend Marcello, a painter, and party girl Musetta. Tonight, you can see Bulgarian touring company Opera Verdi Europa perform La Boheme at Van Wezel Performing Arts Center in a large, colorful production that features 50 singers and 35 musicians. Presented in Italian with English subtitles. 8 p.m. $46-$50. Van Wezel, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 941-953-3368.