(DANCE) If you like dance with a strong story line and an explicit, clearly explained message, Ronald K. Brown and his company, Evidence, will probably be your cup of tea. All three dances being presented are on African American themes. Better Days, named after a beloved gay bar, is about AIDS in the gay black community; Incidents is about... well, about incidents in the lives of black American women; and High Life compares the move north that rural Southern blacks made in the 1930s with the move of West African people from villages to cities. I'm deeply suspicious of using dance for community uplift, but I'm not going to let my doubts dissuade me from attending. On the Boards knows more about dance than I do, and it's been following Brown's career since he first came here in 1995. Who knows, this might be good for me. BARLEY BLAIR

On the Boards, 100 W Roy St, 217-9888, Thurs-Sun at 8, $18-$20, through May 20.

Mark Morris Dance Group

(DANCE) If you think modern dance is all about black-clad anorexics with bare feet and pained expressions, then you've been deprived of the Mark Morris experience: With his exuberant, ballsy style and quirky instincts, Morris (a Seattle native) has, throughout the '80s and '90s, successfully revamped stiff 'n' pointy notions of ballet and grace, playfully shoving some humor and stomp into classical dance (see The Hard Nut, his wonderful parody of the tired Nutcracker ballet). He's even changed the standard for the dancer's physique: Morris uses real people in his dances--of all colors, shapes, textures, and body-fat percentages. To celebrate his 20th season, the members of the Mark Morris Dance Group grace us with their limber, seductive presence, and showcase some of Morris' more exciting works from the last 10 years. MIN LIAO

Meany Hall on the UW campus, 543-4880 or 292-ARTS, 8 pm, $38.


(ART) It has recently been brought to my attention that there are roughly two kinds of artists in the world: those who take small things and make them really, really big, and those who take big things and make them really, really small. Phil Roach finds himself squarely in the latter camp, with his tiny, perfect dioramas of empty, everyday rooms. The voyeuristic thrill is less prurient than distorted and otherworldly, as if you were spying on mice through a fish-eye lens. This new show includes his now famous 12' x 12' wall of flea-market paintings (which, he says, will be retired after the exhibition). Culture-starved parents take note: Kids are rarely bored in Roach's world. I myself never tire of it. EMILY HALL

Nico Gallery, 619 Western Ave, 264-1710. Opening reception 6-10 pm. Through June 3.


Bidding Frenzy

(AUCTION) In the world of junk shopping, one person's misfortune is another person's bargain, and Rosemary and Jerry Heinen have had a spectacular misfortune. The couple are the focus of a criminal investigation into the embezzlement of more than $3.7 million from Starbucks, which has been granted the right to auction off the couples' personal goods. And happily for us, the greedy couple were shopaholics! Pop in and bid on their furniture, woodworking tools, lawn art, bicycles, six 60-inch televisions, four satellite receivers, or three Steinway pianos. Even their last roll of paper towels is going on the block! Or maybe you'd like to check out their 31 cars or two motorcycles? It's either a moving parable about avarice or a chance to walk away with somebody else's really great stuff. TAMARA PARIS

James G. Murphy Co, 18226 68th Ave NE, Kenmore, 425-486-1246, Fri-Sat May 18-19, 10 am.


(FILM) This legendary, unavailable-on-video film documents an early-'70s, all-day L.A. black music festival commemorating the anniversary of the Watts riots of 1965. Featuring revealing interviews with Watts residents; performances by titans like Isaac Hayes, Rufus Thomas, Luther Ingraham, and Mavis Staples; as well as between-song monologues by Richard Pryor in his absolute prime, Wattstax is both a celebration and a statement of purpose for black culture at the dawn of the '70s: peaceful, radical, and unstoppably brilliant. As if all that weren't enough, you get Ted "Isaac from The Love Boat" Lange! The show was organized by one of the greatest soul labels in history--the one that made Motown look like K-Tel. You've heard the record, now see the movie. SEAN NELSON

Grand Illusion, 1403 NE 50th St, 523-3935. See Movie Times for details.



(MUSIC) What's remarkable about this hiphop show is its extraordinary variety: First you have L.A.'s Black Eyed Peas, known for their vigorous anti-pop stance; and then there's Layzie Bone, who descends from one of the biggest hiphop pop bands in the '90s, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. As if this weren't enough, legendary Grandmaster Flash is coupled with Top 40 regular Funkmaster Flex on the wheels of steel. Yes, there is no other motive or meaning behind this lineup--which also includes the house master Dmitri from Paris and local futurist DJ Nasir--other than the raw and thrilling impulse to offer Seattle a spectacular event. Go forth and be amazed. CHARLES MUDEDE

Stadium Exhibition Center, 1000 Occidental Ave S, 888-221-7491 or 628-0888, 9 pm, $35-$125.



(FILM) This is the 1999 debut feature by Christopher Nolan, director of this year's mesmeric Memento. A struggling would-be novelist trapped in a writer's block takes to following random strangers around for story fodder. He gets busted by a fellow voyeur, who then leads our perverse hero down the garden path of more elaborate--and dangerous--stalking. Following presages Memento's bold structural inventiveness, experimenting with flashes backword and forward to arrive at a film that no less an authority than Stranger contributor emeritus Bruce Reid, on its original release two years ago, called "a witty, intelligent noir that has the admirable good sense never to think it's cleverer than it is--and the even greater and rarer good sense not to wear out its welcome." God, I miss Bruce Reid. I know. We all do. SEAN NELSON

Little Theatre, 608 19th Ave E, 675-2055. See Movie Times for details.


The Fucking Champs

(MUSIC) Though they're on Chicago's very cerebral Drag City label, don't imagine that the Fucking Champs named themselves ironically. Their music is like King Crimson meets Metallica, with some keyboard-induced experimental weirdness thrown in for good measure to create a unique onslaught of rock and roll noise. With two quick, mathy guitar players and a splashy, muscular drummer, the Fucking Champs make songs that gearheads, buttrockers, prog-sucking aesthetes, Chicagophiles, and your dumb alcoholic uncle will love--and they're really fucking champs at it. JEFF DeROCHE

Graceland, 109 Eastlake Ave E, 381-3094, 9 pm, $8.


(SOLO PERFORMANCE) Nena St. Louis started hearing voices when she was eight years old, by which time she'd already been coping with depression, and she had a full-fledged psychotic break in late adolescence. Since then she's become an acclaimed solo performer in San Francisco; the critics have called her "a powerhouse actress," "explosively funny," and "keenly intelligent." Her autobiographical tale of her personality disorder, Jump, avoids stereotypes of "crazy" people and stock black characters alike. In the movies, the mentally ill tend to be serial killers or photogenic young women with charming tics; the reality of grappling with madness day by day is more mundane, and more compelling. BRET FETZER

Consolidated Works, 410 Terry Ave N, 325-6500, Mon-Tues at 8, $10, this week only.


Chuck Palahniuk

(READING) Portland author Chuck Palahniuk (pronounced Paula-nick) may be as friendly as can be in person, but deep down I believe he's pure evil, and anyone who has read his first novel, Fight Club, will most surely agree with the following statement: He may be the meanest author in America. He is also one of the most inventive, spinning nihilistic tales into hysterical social satire. His new book, Choke, is no different. Chronicling a med school dropout's career choking in expensive restaurants, Choke touches on sex addiction, Alzheimer's, and sexual therapy/prostitution through hypnosis, twisting them into an absurd little knot that has a faint ring of reality. BRADLEY STEINBACHER

Elliott Bay Book Company, 101 S Main, 624-6600, 7:30 pm, free.


Time and Tide

(FILM) So you won't know what the hell's going on for two-thirds of the film, and the dialogue switches from Chinese to Spanish to English faster than the frenzied subtitles can flash by. Who cares? A bodyguard unwittingly teams up with a mercenary, a pregnant heiress squeezes off shots as her baby's head crowns, and blood and bullets spray in all directions as action filmmaker Tsui Hark's Time and Tide provides a thrilling ride through Hong Kong's underworld. If you figure out who the Cockroach was and what the fuck champagne has to do with anything, feel free to let me in on it. KATHLEEN WILSON

Egyptian, 805 E Pine, 323-4978. See Movie Times for details.