Morgan Parker: Magical Negro
April is National Poetry Month, and there’s no better way to kick it off than with a reading by bright-blazing poet Morgan Parker. Her previous collection, There Are Things More Beautiful Than Beyoncé, received awed acclaim from The New Yorker, The Washington Post, The Paris Review and elsewhere (Buzzfeed called it “a sledgehammer covered in silk”), thanks to her remarkable ability to reveal young Black female consciousness with humor, insistence and vulnerability. Her new collection, Magical Negro, is similarly self-possessed and pop-savvy, including poems such as “Magical Negro #217: Diana Ross Finishing a Rib in Alabama, 1990s,” in which she inhabits the diva’s particular fury. –B.D.
If you go: Hugo House, April 4 at 7 p.m. (Free)
Michelle Ellsworth: The Rehearsal Artist
In the trailer for Michelle Ellsworth’s The Rehearsal Artist, the Guggenheim Award-winning performance artist shares a few tools of her trade: hair aprons (cascading wig segments that can be affixed to the face, neck or knees); a blocky wooden bikini and boots (aka “plywood choreographies”); and spoon goggles. She designed all of the above out of an interest in dance, physical labor, science experiments and the tension between being seen and not seen. It’s strange and funny stuff, which she explains with great urgency in her rapid-fire, staccato way of speaking. In The Rehearsal Artist, she performs intimate sets (10 audience members per viewing), in which a dancer simultaneously re-enacts scenes from 2001: A Space Odyssey and undergoes infamous social science experiments. –B.D.
If you go: On the Boards, April 4-6, times vary. ($50-$75)
Sonny & the Sunsets, Kilcid Band, Zebra Hunt
The world needs more Sonny Smiths running loose, living their lives for art as if charged with a holy mission from an unseen, but very curious higher power. For now, there's only one, but he keeps busy: Smith recently launched his label Rocks in Your Head Records to broadcast the underground indie-rock sound from his adopted hometown of San Francisco. His first release is his own band's brand-new, James Mercer-produced, perfectly ramshackle Hairdressers from Heaven, songs from which will surely feature prominently at the band's concert on Thursday. Also in the works is a compilation of young SF-based bands. Seattle-based openers are electro-pop five-piece Kilcid Band and Kiwi-philic trio Zebra Hunt, either of which is worth a trip to Ballard by themselves. -J.Z.
If you go: Sunset Tavern, April 5 at 9 p.m. ($12)
Mark Haim: Parts to a Sum
Imagine asking friends and family to create a 10-second video of themselves dancing. Imagine getting 370 responses. Then imagine memorizing those 370 clips, replicating every movement, and stringing the segments together for a solo performance. This is precisely what beloved Seattle choreographer and dance teacher Mark Haim has done for his new piece, Parts to a Sum. He performs the piece chronologically, from the oldest friend (93) to youngest (2), but instead of seeing Haim getting visibly younger, Benjamin Buttons-style, what we notice is the diversity of movement and the accidental patterns across ages. The common denominator is Haim, whose careful embodiment of this circle of connection reflects how one person is affected by so many others over the course of a life. It’s a personal exercise that speaks to shared humanity, memory and movement. –B.D.
If you go: Velocity Dance Center, April 5-6 & 12-13, 7:30 p.m. ($15-$25)
Prince from Minneapolis
Over the course of his towering music career, Prince Rogers Nelson went by any number of names — Jamie Starr, The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, The Purple One — but for this new show at MoPop, he’s simply called Prince from Minneapolis. The emphasis on his hometown reflects the content of the show, organized by the Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota. The collection showcases striking work by several Minneapolis photographers who Prince sought out to help craft his image, and illuminates the artist’s intense connection to his city. The 50-some artifacts also reveal the inspiration Prince provided to visual artists, including Seattle’s own Troy Gua, whose meticulously crafted “Little Prince” dolls pay small-scale homage to the giant music legend. –B.D.
If you go: MoPOP, April 6, 2019 - Jan. 4, 2020. ($26-$28)
It's short for French Kiwi Juice, the nom-de-musique of Paris-based multi-instrumentalist/producer Vincent Fenton. With each performance, Fenton demonstrates the full range of the previously limited "one-man band" category: Surrounded by guitars, basses, keyboards, drum machines, a sax and microphone, all linked via laptop, he circulates from one item to another, patiently laying down layers of rhythm, melody and detail to build languid, funky jams that land somewhere between hip-hop, jazz and downtempo electronica. It's millennial furniture music, to paraphrase Erik Satie, which makes it especially suited to dramatic cinematography — say, the world's largest salt flat in Bolivia. His two Showbox shows might be less scenic, but they'll certainly be more crowded with inebriated young things swirling and selfie-ing to Fenton's beautiful-life soundtracks. –J.Z.
If you go: Showbox, April 6-7 at 9 p.m. ($32.50; all ages)
Third Coast Percussion
It would be curious fun to count all of the instruments that Third Coast Percussion brings to each stage performance, including desk bells, xylophones, pipes and giant vibraphones, but you’ll probably lose track as you become mesmerized by the sound. The music (get a taste in the group's NPR Tiny Desk Concert) prompts a similar question to one often raised regarding glass: is it liquid or is it solid? Third Coast’s quartet of Grammy-winning, conservatory-trained percussionists is technically in the ‘minimalist’ music camp, but the colors, dynamics, rhythms and sheer precision they accomplish is truly symphonic. Baby Benaroya (aka Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall) is a perfect, intimate venue to experience this virtuosity. Presented as part of Town Hall’s music season, Third Coast will premiere Philip Glass’ first composition for the Chicago-based percussion group, play another premiere by English bassist Gavin Bryars, and also perform new work by the ensemble itself. –S.H.
If you go: Third Coast Percussion at Benaroya Hall, April 7 at 6 p.m. ($22)
Kyte Mika, Don Haugen, Infinite Neck
Gallery in front, bar and music venue in back: Vermillion is among a few holdouts that recall the Capitol Hill of yesteryear (say, 2009). Tonight's West Coast-spanning lineup couldn't be better suited to the place's artsy, edgy vibe. Seattle-based Kyte Mika composes lovely minimalist elegies with keyboards and electronic drums, simultaneously playful and elegant; their work veers from gorgeous and dreamy to gently propulsive. Don Haugen brings droning, unsettling analog deconstructions from Eugene, Oregon. And Infinite Neck is a performance-art duo that pairs ambient electroacoustic soundscapes with live interpretive movement and video projection. This is the right way to wrap up a weekend. –J.Z.
If you go: Vermillion Gallery, April 7 at 6:30 p.m. ($21; 21 and older)
Cosmic Microscapes: An Exhibit of Unearthly Beauty
Space (the final frontier) is full of bottomless beauty, and as this exhibit proves, the closer we look, the more there is to see. And sometimes, space comes to us — in the form of meteorites and castoffs from the moon, asteroids and Mars. Seattle photographer Neil Buckland worked with University of Washington geochemical scientist Tony Irving to zoom deeply into these rocks, by slicing them to a thinness of 30 microns (⅓ the thickness of human hair) and engineering a new micropanoramic imaging system to magnify what lies beneath. The results are astonishing — with different meteorites resembling stained glass windows, piles of sparkling jewels or abstract oil paintings. Space debris this beautiful only adds to the human sense that we are spinning in a galaxy full of wonders. It’s the perfect way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. –B.D.
If you go: Frederick Holmes Gallery, April 4 - 27. First Thursday (April 4) at 6 p.m., RSVP-required discussion with photographer Neil Buckland and University of Washington professor Tony Irving; at 6:45 p.m. open to public. (Free)
Feathers and Teeth
Fans of slasher films, Tim Burton’s Coraline and the Netflix series Stranger Things will enjoy Washington Ensemble Theatre’s new production Feathers and Teeth, by Los Angeles-based playwright Charise Castro Smith. Follow along as outbursts about a recently deceased relative between spunky 13-year-old Chris (Rachel Guyer-Mafune) and her stepmother, Carol (Samie Spring Detzer), build up to slowly reveal two sides of a story that hides a much sinister truth. The play is set in a “classic” American kitchen a la Norman Rockwell, beautifully designed by Pete Rush. The choice of time-warping songs such as Pink Floyd’s "Breath" during Chris’s monologues create a cognitive dissonance with the audience that has you questioning which character is the one actually losing touch with reality. –A.P.F.
If you go: Feathers and Teeth, 12th Avenue Arts, now through April 15. ($25)