Ailey II & Ballet ‘Diamonds’ set the stage for the week

Dance (via Ailey II and the Kansas City Ballet) and First Friday frivolity set the table for a thrilling week ahead in the Downtown arts & entertainment scene – Monday to Sunday, April 2-8, – that includes:

Ailey II: The Alvin Ailey spirit will shine as these artists perform an exhilarating and diverse repertory that includes Ailey’s timeless classics and thrilling new works by today’s outstanding emerging choreographers. The Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey present the Next Generation of Dance in four performances – at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 2 and 6 p.m. Saturday – at the Folly Theater.

American Jazz Museum presents The Anat Cohen Tentet, featuring woodwind virtuoso Anat Cohen, at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Gem Theater. Both on stage and on Cohen’s release, Happy Song, the Tentet weaves a tapestry of sounds, freeing Cohen to explore the full range of the clarinet’s dynamics and demonstrate its vastly expressive character.

The Box Gallery will present “The Art of Comics: an Andrews McMeel Universal retrospective of the creators and characters who shaped popular culture” beginning with a free public reception from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday in the Commerce Arcade, 1000 Walnut. The exhibit explores the evolution of the funny pages, from Doonesbury to Calvin and Hobbes to the new frontier that is web comics, all through the lens of the company that resulted from that legendary partnership. The free exhibit will run through May 25.

First Friday – KC’s hottest night of the spring – returns this Friday with a sizzling collection arts and cultural experiences throughout the:

  • Crossroads Arts District featuring arts organizations, galleries, studios, and a wide variety of local businesses in a celebration of local, regional and national artists and live entertainment from 5 to 9 p.m.
  • 18th & Vine Jazz District – Shop local artists and a diverse array of food trucks, along with a jazzy selection of live entertainment, beginning at 4 p.m.
  • Champagne, Jazz & KC History – featuring the grand opening Kansas City’s most luxurious AirBnB, the 1887 J.G. Peppard House from 4-9 p.m. Friday at 1704 Jefferson St. in the Westside.
  • First Friday (Short) Film Festival gets under way after most of the galleries have closed. The doors at MTH Theater in Crown Center open at 6:30 p.m., and the screening begins at 7:30. Admission is always free.  Seating is first come, first served.
  • First Friday Warehouse Weekends – one of the finest vintage marketplaces in the country – flourishes every First Friday weekend (Friday through Sunday) in the West Bottoms.

Kansas City Ballet will present the 60th Anniversary Dance Festival – featuring six ballets in two weeks – this weekend and next at the Muriel Kauffman Theatre in the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts:

  • The first weekend is the must-see event of the year. George Balanchine’s Diamonds recalls the order and grandeur of Imperial Russia and the Maryinsky Theater, where Balanchine was trained. It is the third and final ballet of Balanchine’s Jewels and is a glorious culmination of beauty and elegance. Diamonds will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday.
  • In the second weekend, the Dance Festival will feature three contemporary ballets. Flannel shirts, cowboy boots and jeans never looked so good in this tribute to rockabilly, Johnny Cash. James Kudelka’s hit ballet The Man in Black is an ode to the human spirit and a unique blend of country-western dance. The Toronto Star called it “a work so inventive, so alert to the music and their lyrics, and so deeply moving.” The Man in Black will be performed over the weekend of April 13-15.

Kauffman Center will light up Kansas City this week with five amazing performances, including Side by Side with the Youth Symphony of Kansas City at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Helzberg Hall; the three performances of the 60th Anniversary Dance Festival by the Kansas City Ballet (see previous entry) in the Kauffman Theatre; and the University of Kansas Choral Festival at 3 p.m. Sunday in Helzberg Hall.

Knuckleheads Saloon – the hottest honky tonk in the Big Town – features 11 shows this week, including the Dweezil Zappa World Tour at 8 p.m. Wednesday; Maria the Mexican at 7 p.m. Thursday; the Danielle Nicole CD release party at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

Eddie B brings his Teachers Only Comedy Tour to the Folly for a one-night-only performance on Friday.

The Midland Theatre will feature the comedy of school teacher Eddie B at 8 p.m. Friday. Eddie B has become a national sensation on his Teachers Only Comedy Tour, as he bring classroom experience and great comedic timing to relate to and entertain teachers across the country.

The Central Library will play host to the 10th annual Money Smart Day, presented by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Money Smart Day – Make plans to attend this 10th annual event, presented by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Central Library. Choose from a dozen free educational sessions covering a variety of money-related topics. You can also get a copy of your credit report for free! The event is open to the public and registration is not necessary. Free parking validation is available for the Library garage

Stanfords Comedy Club brings the laughs to Downtown from its new location at 831 Walnut. Comedian James Inman will headline an 18 & older show this week – beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, plus late shows on Friday and Saturday. And, Open Mic is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Sundays. For ticket information, visit Stanfords.

The Truman will be bouncing the east Crossroads with two rockin’ showx this week including Dan Auerbach and The Easy Eye Sound Review, featuring Robert Finley and Shannon Shaw, at 8 p.m. Wednesday; and The Darkness with special guests Diarrhea Planet at 8 p.m. Sunday.

The Art of the Brick – a special exhibition designed to inspire ingenuity and creativity, is the world’s largest and most elaborate display of LEGO art – continues through May 28 at Union Station.

Union Station is featuring a special exhibition on The Art of the Brick,  the critically acclaimed collection of creative and inspiring pieces constructed using only LEGO bricks now through May 28.

John Singer Sargent’s masterpiece ‘Gassed’ is on exhibit now June 3 at the National WWI Museum.

WWI Museum – John Singer Sargent’s incredible masterpiece Gassed is truly one of the giants of the art world at more than nine feet tall by 21 feet long. The landmark painting is the focal point in this special centennial exhibition – that is on exhibition through June 3 in the Wylie Gallery – that also includes reproductions of many of his study drawings and historical and contemporary objects on detection and protection from chemical warfare.

LIVE THEATER is thriving on Downtown stages, which feature four productions this week, including:

  • Belfast Girls – presented by Fishtank Theatre and the Charlotte Street Foundation – tells the powerful Jaki McCarrick story of five young women who seek passage on a ship to Australia to escaping the Irish famine in 1850. Performances begin Friday and run through April 29 at La Esquina.
  • The Mascot, a satirically comic coming-of-age story about an obsessive father, a starry-eyed son, and the drama that ensues when a father’s pursuit of his unfulfilled aspirations torpedo the dream of his son, opens Thursday and runs through April 29 at The Living Room Theatre.
  • Tuck Everlasting – Natalie Babbitt’s popular novel comes to life on stage contemplating the benefits and burdens of never growing older will run through Thursday at The Coterie at Crown Center.

ARTS – your guide to arts and culture in greater Kansas City:

LIVE MUSIC – of all tastes and flavors – is performed at these Downtown venues on most nights:

MUSEUMS are alive and well throughout Downtown, including these 16 destinations:

For more of what’s happening in Downtown and Kansas City, check out our friends at