Liquid ballet; Home Works!; Rett syndrome fundraiser

MADCO performs ‘Liquid Roads’ at the Touhill April 11-12. 

By: Lois Caplan

AS A BALLET MEGAFAN, I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THE PREMIERE OF “LIQUID ROADS” that you would think I am at the Bolshoi and Nijinsky is the premier dancer. Let’s back up a little so I can share my excitement with you. MADCO (Modern American Dance Company) is premiering “Liquid Roads” at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 11-12. The production, which was created and choreographed by Gina Patterson and features music and direction by Brian Casserly, takes a lively look at the jazzy, bluesy, swinging roots of St. Louis culture – and of its “liquid roads” like the Mighty Mississippi – through a contemporary lens. It also pays tribute to music and dance that made its way into St. Louis by steamboat and steam engine. 

MADCO’S executive director Stacy West says on the Touhill Performing Arts Center website that she is thrilled to produce a dance production with original and historic live music: “Live music is an intrinsic part of ‘Liquid Roads.’ It’s not just the beat the dancers keep time to … it’s the inspiration, the storyline, the heart.”

Tickets to the show are $30 and are on sale at the Touhill box office, 1 University Boulevard; online at touhill.org or by phone at 314-516-4949. Beginning at 7 each evening and immediately after the show, the Sidney Street Shakers band will perform in the lobby. Also before the performance, local swing clubs will give swing dance demonstrations. 

KAREN KALISH, FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF HOME WORKS!, needs wood to make bookcases, tables and desks for students who don’t have them. In her own inimitable fashion, Kalish has obtained  permission from the superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools for high school shop classes to make and deliver these items. The only problem is that the classes need wood. 

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If you know anyone she can call for such a donation or if you can donate either wood or money, call Kalish at 314-727-2727 or email her at [email protected] Home Works! trains, supports and pays St. Louis area teachers to go to the homes of their students to get their parents engaged in their education. 

“We are in 33 schools, including eight in St. Louis Public Schools,” Kalish explained. “Our teachers find that too many of the low-income homes they visit don’t have bookcases, and data show that families that have books and bookcases have students who do better in school. Our teachers also find that many have no place for the children to do their homework – no kitchen tables or desks.”

For more information on the nonprofit, go to teacherhomevisit.org.

THE INTERNATIONAL RETT SYNDROME FOUNDATION (IRSF) will host its seventh annual St. Louis Strollathon on May 3. But before I tell you about the fundraiser, let me explain that Rett syndrome is a genetic neurological disorder that occurs almost exclusively in females and becomes apparent after six to 18 months of early normal development. It results in a regression that leads to lifelong impairments. Those afflicted with this disorder have multiple dysfunctions: Speech is lost, seizures develop and scoliosis occurs. Many also develop irregular breathing patterns, and more than half of the girls and women lose their ability to walk. The hallmark sign of Rett syndrome is near constant repetitive hand movements while awake.

Now you have the bad news. Here is the good news. The gene that causes RTT was discovered in 1999. In 2007, research proved the theory of reversibility in mice. Human clinical trials began in Boston in 2010 to improve and possibly reverse the disorder’s progression.  Research is focusing on multiple disease-modifying human clinical trials. The Strollathon will contribute to the research. For more information, call Strollathon chairwoman Joyce Opinsky at 314-878-0868, email her at [email protected] or visit the organization’s website at rettsyndrome.org.  

ANNIE MURPHY OF THE THIRD DEGREE GLASS FACTORY knows that I can’t resist a free party – or maybe any party.  On Friday, April 18, from 6 to 10 p.m., there will be an evening of cars, art, free treats, live music and hands-on glass demonstrations with instructors. Third Fridays at the Third Degree Glass Factory, 5200 Delmar Boulevard, are free and family friendly. Be sure to tell your kids and grandkids.