It's a big world, but it's a shared world: That's the message of the Mystical Arts of Tibet Sacred Music, Sacred Dance program. The monks of the Drepung Loseling Monastery, currently in town to flash their mandala-painting skills over at the Saint Louis Art Museum, also practice the ancient art of "multiphonic singing." Basically, each monk vocalizes three notes simultaneously, creating a complete chord. This vocal control results in an eerie-sounding note rife with harmonic overtones; it sounds ancient and otherworldly on recordings and is spine-tingling when experienced in person. William Cooper, author of the excellent cult book Behold a Pale Horse, claimed that the aliens who are in contact with the world government greatly enjoy the music of Tibet. You may not agree with most of what Cooper wrote, but with just one listen to the Tibetan singers it becomes easy to believe that even an extraterrestrial would be awestruck by the music's singular beauty and strangeness.
The Drepung Loseling Web site (www.mysticalartsoftibet.org) notes that the Tibetans are the only people to practice multiphonic singing. And while they may be alone in the world with their mastery of this vocal art, singing remains a universal human expression. The language of their songs may escape you, but the emotion behind it is familiar and comforting. The monks sing to a greater power, something that touches them on a spiritual level. Whether you raise your voice with Beethoven or the Buddha or the Flaming Lips or the little green men, you can feel what it is the monks mean, so the alien culture of Tibet becomes that much more comprehensible.
The Drepung Loseling monks bring the cosmos low at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, April 29 and April 30, at the Edison Theatre on the campus of Washington University (6445 Forsyth Boulevard; 314-534-1111). Tickets are $18 to $28, with a special $7 matinee at 11 a.m. on Saturday. -- Paul Friswold
Moved by the Movement
The Fox Theatre (527 North Grand Boulevard; www.dancestlouis.org) is probably on your list of places to get to -- and soon. You're fabulous, so you want to be surrounded by the theater's glamorous beauty; you want to take in something fantastic and truly moving. Well, this weekend's your chance: Dance St. Louis presents Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in the stunning 1920s jewel at 8 p.m. on Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday (April 30 and May 1). This company -- named for its founder, whose famous ballet Revelations was inspired by the blues, spirituals and gospel -- first formed in March of 1958 and not only continues to tour the nation, but also the world. See the group perform Revelations, as well as Love Stories and Hidden Rites, for $39 to $68; call 314-534-1111 to make a purchase. -- Alison Sieloff
Mardi Gras Jr.
Attention all parents who drag their kids to Mardi Gras: Here's a Fat Tuesday-style event that's actually for kids. Take 'em to the Masquerade Regional Dance Competition at the Touhill Performing Arts Center on the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus (1 University Drive at Natural Bridge Road; 314-516-4949). This dance contest for kids of all ages involves nothing inappropriate for children, and according to www.masqueradedance.com, the organizers try to "blend the fun and excitement of Mardi Gras with a well-organized, professionally run dance competition" -- a surprising marriage of ideas, but a nice one indeed. Sadly, the entry deadline has already passed. But admission is free, so watch (from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.) and remember: Laissez les bons temps rouler (in a G-rated sorta way)! -- Alison Sieloff
The Charlack Shuffle
The Washington University Performing Arts Department closes out its season with the premiere of Brian Golden's award-winning play, Six Seconds in Charlack (pictured). Young Bard is a writer who finds more success at his girlfriend's father's law firm -- so much success that the couple must contemplate a move to New York City. But who'd want to leave St. Louis for the Big Apple? Bard discovers that maybe his life can't be defined by writer's block, a comfortable relationship and a good living. Golden's play won the school's A.E. Hotchner Playwriting Competition, and Six Seconds debuts in the A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre (in the Edison Theatre at 6445 Forsyth Boulevard; 314-534-1111) at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday (April 28 through 30), with 2 p.m. matinees on Saturday and Sunday (April 30 and May 1). Tickets are $8 to $12. -- Paul Friswold