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Top Tickets: February 27-March 5

Diablo’s can’t miss-events of the coming week: The world’s first “web ballet,” a Secret Garden, roller derby, animals in art, and Marlo Thomas.

Diablo Ballet / photo by Ashraf

The process for creating Diablo Ballet’s much buzzed about “web ballet,” premiering this weekend in Walnut Creek, may not be that out there. In contemporary ballet, it’s common for a choreographer like Robert Dekkers to work with dancers in a studio to devise a concept or movements.

But in this case, Dekkers was getting his ideas in a very new media/crowdsourcing way: via Twitter and Facebook.

@MangoJMango suggested Dekkers and his dancers tell “the story of the Dodo Bird, birds who can't fly and became extinct.” And @BlondieBallet said the feel of the piece should be “deliberately ironic.” The setting? “Insane Asylum,” opined another fan. More than 130 ideas for everything from story to mood to actual steps came in from all over the world. Dekkers, a dancer with the company, chose seven of those ideas—including the above mentioned.

He had two weeks to pull together a 10-minute work, titled Flight of the Dodo. Per other suggestions, it will be set to Vivaldi's "Concerto for Two Cellos in G Minor." And, as 10-year-old Mia Fuerte said in a hand-written note, the dance will be a “safari” with the boys being “animals and “the girls will be explorers.”

Dekkers says he was really excited about the idea: “I love pushing myself as a choreographer and trying things that are different.” Dan Meagher, the company’s director of marketing told The Huffington Post, that the web ballet is not just a gimmick for sales but part of the company’s larger efforts to “democratize” classical art forms that are at risk of becoming irrelevant in 21st century lives. Artistic director Lauren Jonas adds that Diablo Ballet is “all about being accessible.”

The ballet is also part of the company’s Inside the Dancer’s Studio performances. See the Flight of the Dodo and other pieces this Friday and Saturday at Shadelands Arts Center in Walnut Creek. For tickets, call (925) 943-1775 or visit diabloballet.org. Also coming this week:

The Secret Garden / Getty ImagesSTARTING FRIDAY
March 1–10: The Secret Garden

Cal Performances’ world premiere collaboration with San Francisco Opera transforms the classic children’s story into a vivid production that captures the enchantment of a girl who discovers the hidden wonder of a secret place. The opera, based on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s book, should delight audiences of all ages. Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley, times vary, $15–$80, (510) 642-9988, calperfs.berkeley.edu.

March 1–2: Best of Smuin Ballet
After debuting at Livermore’s Bankhead Theater this winter, the San Francisco–based dance troupe returns to present its favorite works, including the Frank Sinatra tribute, Fly Me to the Moon. Bankhead Theater, 2400 First St., Livermore, times vary, $43–$63, (925) 373-6800, tickets: mylvpac.com, more info: smuinballet.org.

March 2: Bay Area Derby Girls

This nationally ranked Women’s Flat Track Derby Association league, part of the revival of a pop culture phenomenon, opens its 2013 season with a bout between the San Francisco ShEvil Dead and the Richmond Wrecking Belles. Loud music and rink-side “suicide seating” add to the concert-like atmosphere of the league’s bouts. Before you go, read more about the East Bay’s roller derby revolution in Diablo’s June 2012 issue. Craneway Pavilion, 1414 Harbour Way South, Richmond, doors open at 6 p.m., first whistle at 7:30 p.m., $15–$40, bayareaderbygirls.com.

March 2–3: White Elephant Sale
This annual two-day event has become a Bay Area tradition for both collectors and bargain hunters. A warehouse on the Oakland Estuary transforms into an emporium selling quality used and vintage clothing, fine jewelry, Asian collectibles, furniture, and sporting goods. All proceeds benefit the Oakland Museum of California. White Elephant Warehouse, 333 Lancaster St., Oakland, 10 a.m.–4 p.m., free, whiteelephantsale.org.

March 3: Pacific Chamber Symphony

The music group, blending the intimacy of chamber music with the power of a professional symphony orchestra, presents Baroque and Jazz in Lafayette and Livermore.  The concert features works by Bach arranged for mandolin and strings and performed by versatile string instrumentalist Mike Marshall. Lafayette Library and Learning Center, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, 2 p.m., $10–$35; Bankhead Theatre, 2400 First St., Livermore, 7 p.m.  $7–$45; (800) 630-7836, pacificchambersymphony.org.

Peaceable Kingdom / art by Brett KernMarch 3–May 19: Peaceable Kingdom
The Bedford Gallery explores the many ways our human fascination with the animal kingdom shows up in visual arts. This juried exhibition presents paintings, sculpture, and other works by artists from around the United States. Bedford Gallery, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek, closed Mondays, noon to 5 p.m., $3–$5, (925) 295-1417, bedfordgallery.com.

March 4: East Bay Women’s Conference

Marlo Thomas may be regarded as an award-winning actress and activist who helped define the feminist movement in the 1970s. We also adore her as “That Girl.” She joins other keynote speakers Lorrie Sullenberger and Lisa Kristine for this annual conference for businesswomen (and men). San Ramon Marriott, 2600 Bishop Dr., San Ramon, 8 a.m.–5 p.m., $195, (925) 934-2007, walnut-creek.com.

March 5: Ladysmith Black Mambazo

This male choral group from South Africa gained fame singing with Paul Simon on his landmark album Graceland in 1986. But since 1960, the group has been sharing the music and culture of South Africa with the world, coming this week to Yoshi’s Oakland. Yoshi’s, Jack London Square, 510 Embarcadero West, Oakland, 8 p.m., $35, (510) 238-9200, yoshis.com.

For even more events happening this week, or to submit an event for consideration, visit Diablo’s Community Calendar. Follow Diablo on Twitter or Facebook (links below), and you'll be notified as soon as Top Tickets posts each Wednesday morning.