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Your weekly guide to Houston: Five (plus) don't-miss events — crazy space party included

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"The Space Ball" benefiting Fresh Arts
Trekkie gear, Martian garb, space suits, Leia bikinis or the crew of Spaceballs are some of the suggested for "The Space Ball" benefiting Fresh Arts. Courtesy photo
Spicy Ass Meatball Chili at Zeno's Famous Meatball Kitchen
Young professionals will flex their foodie muscles in a chili cook off at Eleven XI. Photo courtesy of Zeno's Famous Meatball Kitchen
Sons of Fathers at the Mucky Duck
Sons of Fathers will perform as part of "1836 Fest" at Cottonwood. Photo by Kyle Monty
Houston Ballet
Houston Ballet's mixed repertory performance bows to artistic director Stanton Welch as he celebrates 10 years with the company. Courtesy photo
10th Annual Houston Jewish Film Festival Opening Night: Bethlehem
The 10th Annual Houston Jewish Film Festival kicks off with the screening of Bethlehem. Courtesy photo
"The Space Ball" benefiting Fresh Arts
Spicy Ass Meatball Chili at Zeno's Famous Meatball Kitchen
Sons of Fathers at the Mucky Duck
Houston Ballet
10th Annual Houston Jewish Film Festival Opening Night: Bethlehem
Joel Luks, head shot, column mug, April 2013

Screw this return of the spirit of the polar vortex. Let's not allow Mother Nature to get in the way of going out and having a good old time as this week offers quite the range of things to do. For starters, we have an out-of-this-world party, a Texas style foodie challenge, a celebration of independence, a world premiere sur la pointe and the beginning of a long-running film festival.

"The Space Ball" benefiting Fresh Arts

Meatball, cornball, lowball — a handful such "balls" were considered for the theme of this balls-to-the-wall artsy affair that raises funds for Fresh Arts, a group that advocates and supports local artists and arts organizations. May the schwartz be with party chairs Libby Cagle and Lauren Taft, Kathryn Lott Neumann and Jeff Neumann, J. Michael Soliz and Michael Pilie, and Caroline Starry LeBlanc and Jared LeBlanc plus honorary chair Marita Fairbanks as they beam guests to a galaxy far, far away to laud the contributions of Don Mafrige Jr., Rebekah Johnson, Chris Johnson and Nancy Wozny.

Costumed guests can expect high decibel entertainment from DJ Lady Bunny and the HaviKoro Crew plus the gravity-defying exploits of Vault aerial dancers. Organizers promise amusing surprises, among them a "bouncy" activity for thrill seekers — whatever that means.

The suggested attire? Trekkie gear, Martian garb, space suits, Leia bikinis or the crew of Spaceballs. I hope someone goes as Mega Maid as she morphs from suck to blow. And please someone don a really big helmet.

The skinny: Friday, 8-11 p.m.; Silver Street Studios; individual tickets start at $100.

Houston Young Professionals and Briggs True present "The Houston Chili Cook-Off"

We all know that young professionals are a force in Houston, frequently hosting socials that raise funds for this and that charity and volunteering their time to make this sprawling metropolis a better place to live. But can they cook?

With Texas Independence Day in their minds, teams will flex their culinary muscles in cooking up what's considered the National Food of Texas: Chili. Join in the foodie feud or attend as a taste tester. Either way, you'll have a fiery blast.

The skinny: Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; Eleven XI; team entry fee is $50; guests tickets are $5 in advance, $10 at the door.

1836 Fest at Cottonwood

March 2, 1836 — you should know what this significant date is all about, right? If you are indeed not smarter than a fifth grader, this casual gathering is an elementary school crash course in a rowdy yet casual grown up ambiance that observes a day that bestowed another flag to the Lone Star State.

Two stages, eight bands, 10 plus Texas craft breweries and more than 30 beers comprise this party that celebrates Texas Independence Day.

The skinny: Saturday, noon-10 p.m.; Cottonwood Bar; general admission tickets are $25; VIP tickets start at $45.

Houston Ballet presents Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra

The mixed repertory performance bows to artistic director Stanton Welch as he celebrates 10 years with the Houston Ballet. The program includes a diverse playbill of works past and present, all choreographed by Welch. The company premiere of one of Welch's earliest works, Of Blessed Memory (1991), honors his mother. Maninyas (1996) was the first commissioned ballet that introduced Welch to American audiences. It was Maninyas that first inspired then artistic director Ben Stevenson to recruit Welch to create works for Houston.

But all the buzz is about the world premiere of Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra. The music by Benjamin Britten is an orchestral favorite as it introduces the prowess of each family of musical instruments. In a similar fashion, Welch's choreography spotlights the company in its entirety.

The skinny: Runs through March 16; Wortham Theater Center; tickets start at $19.

10th Annual Houston Jewish Film Festival

Needless to say, you don't have to be of the faith to enjoy the two-week film festival's 10th anniversary season, which kicks off on Saturday with the opening night screening of Bethlehem. Director Yuval Adler's story of an unlikely friendship that develops between a secret service officer and an informant frames a universal truth about world issues: Nothing is as simple and clear cut as it seems.

The curated collection of international documentaries, dramas, comedies and musicals conveys that themes of the human condition are omnipresent in all religions, cultures and ethnicities.

The skinny: Saturday through March 23; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center and Holocaust Museum Houston; price varies by screening.

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