The often insular bubble that is Lawrence gets a dose of the outside world this week with the World Music and Cultural Diversity Festival. The festival, which continues until next Monday, features a world-encompassing variety of concerts and workshops. To give an idea of the breadth of the festival, Friday's events at the Kansas Union (1301 Jayhawk Boulevard on the University of Kansas campus, 785-864-7469) include workshops called Foundations of Hip-Hop and Djembe Rhythms of West Africa as well as concerts featuring Greek and Lithuanian songs. The main event for the festival is the Second Annual World Music and Cultural Diversity Concert, featuring a performance by the national dance company of the Republic of Guinea, Les Ballets Africains, at 5 p.m. Thursday at Liberty Hall (644 Massachusetts Street).
Tickets for the concert are available at the Kansas Union box office or at Liberty Hall. Admission is free for KU and Haskell University students and $7 for the general public. For details, call 785-864-3436.--Michael Vennard
Baseball and theater combine at the Gem.
By now, many of us should know this story. It was 1947, a time when our society was divided into black or white, separated by a seemingly impenetrable wall of intolerance and ignorance. But it was in that same year that Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play in baseball's major leagues, breached that barrier like a home run sailing over the left-field fence. Before he was a Dodger, though, Robinson was a Monarch, so it seems appropriate that on April 4 the American Jazz Museum, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and Johnson County Community College present Everybody's Hero: The Jackie Robinson Story (a play by Mad River Theater Works). Combining music and drama, Everybody's Hero depicts Robinson's battle as a pioneer on the field and his contribution to changing America's perception of race one swing at a time. Admission to the 3 p.m. performance at the Gem Theater (1615 East 18th Street) is $10 for adults and $5 for children. Call 816-474-6262 for more information.--Jen Chen
Contrary to popular belief, belly dancing was not originally a form of entertainment. Historically, dancers performed for other women during fertility rites or parties preparing a young woman for marriage. The snaking undulations were actually a method of strengthening abdominal muscles in preparation for childbirth, and bare skin was forbidden. Appalling, we know. Monday, however, the Bellydance Superstars will perform for anybody with $15 at 8 p.m. at the Grand Emporium (3832 Main Street, 816-531-1504). If you go to appreciate the complex and beautiful history of the "Oriental Dance," as it is known, then good for you. And if you're going only to see some hot abs in action ... well, we certainly won't be shocked.--Annie Fischer