Forget fireworks to ring in the New Year -- at least if you'll be doing your celebrating in downtown Fort Lauderdale. The city is skipping the flash this year in lieu of a mysterious "Midnight Celebration," which the folks at the City Festivals office decline to describe. You'll just have to wait and see, they say. While waiting, revelers taking part in Swinging in the New Year: Fort Lauderdale Style will be treated to swing and blues music, food, beverages (including some champagne), and games at Bubier Park (Las Olas Boulevard and Andrews Avenue). At 7 p.m. local jazz-blues rockers the Jeff Prine Group will take over the park stage. A boat parade will cruise the New River from 8 to 9 p.m., then the action shifts back to the park for music by Hollywood's horn-driven Groovy Shoes. Headliners the J Street Jumpers will literally swing in the new year, beginning at 11 p.m. Admission is free; blankets and lawn chairs are allowed into the park. Hours are from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Call 954-761-5813.
Despite what recent headlines say, there's really nothing new in the world of politics. William Gropper (1897-1977) could have told you as much. His cartoonish pencil sketch The Speaker features a rotund, bellowing congressman, his arms raised in exclamation as his comrades nap, chat, and read newspapers. Divided House depicts paunchy politicians scowling at each other. Images created by the American artist are on view at the Museum of Art (1 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale). Gropper was the son of immigrant parents, and his working-class upbringing instilled in him a concern for the underclass; his work depicts trade workers, poor families, and victims of war. But his best-known subject matter was the politician, whom he caricatured to no end. "William Gropper," the show, remains on view through March 28. Admission prices range from $1 to $6. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Call 954-525-5500.
Ever wonder where the moves in classical ballet come from, those fluid, limb-twisting steps professionals make look so easy? The plie, various pirouettes, and the rest of the steps and positions in ballet were invented and codified in France by masters of the Paris Opera Ballet in the 1700s. Dance has been developed all over the map since then, but the original tenets are still followed by classical companies, the Stars of the Paris Opera Ballet included. The troupe will dance today in Fort Lauderdale and tomorrow in West Palm Beach, presenting Apollo, Lilac Garden, and other dances. Tonight's performance begins at 8 p.m. at the Broward Center For the Performing Arts (201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale, 954-462-0222); Sunday's presentation, also at 8 p.m., takes place at the Kravis Center For the Performing Arts (701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach, 561-832-7469). Ticket prices range from $15 to $55.
Christmas is over, and you've already braved the post-holiday mall mayhem to buy next year's gifts at ridiculously low prices. So what better way to spend the weekend than... shopping? You don't actually have to buy anything, but the local and national artists participating in the 11th Annual Las Olas Art Fair would prefer that you do. After all, they had to submit their work to a jury, which whittled the list of nearly 1500 artists down to the 200 who got in. The fair, which started Saturday and ends today, takes place along Las Olas Boulevard in downtown Fort Lauderdale between SE 6th and SE 11th avenues. In addition to all of the artwork, live music will fill the streets both days. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. Call 954-472-3755 for more information.
If, like everyone else, you've made a resolution to get fit this coming year, why not learn how to protect yourself while you exercise? That's the idea behind capoeira, the martial art that combines gymnastic moves with music. Confused? Well, here's the story: Way back when, Brazilians came up with their own form of self-defense, which they practiced on neighborhood plots of grass, known as capoeiras. But after Portuguese colonialists outlawed the martial art, the natives came up with a way to make it look like a dance whenever the Portuguese approached. The berimbau, a Brazilian instrument that looks like a bow and arrow tied to a coconut, was played at a certain pitch to alert fighters when to switch to dance mode. Brazilian native Joe Neto shows neophytes how to perform capoeira every Monday (8:30 p.m.), Wednesday (7:30 p.m.), and Friday (7:30 p.m.) at Lord's Gym, 7138 N. University Dr., Tamarac. The first class is free; 12 classes per month cost $50. Call 954-721-5010.
If one of your Jewish friends calls you a kuni-leml in Yiddish, it's not a compliment. Kuni-Leml is the main character in The Fanatic, a popular 1880 play by the father of Yiddish theater, Avrom Goldfadn. The musical comedy takes place in Russia during the reign of Czar Alexander II (1855-1881), whose enlightened attitude opened avenues of opportunity for Russian Jews. Even so, the play's main character, a Hasidic scholar named Kuni-Leml, remains in a fairy-tale world, fervently pursuing religious study without applying it to any real-world context. Over the years the character's name has become synonymous with the word "fool" in Yiddish. Perhaps for emphasis the modern adaptation of the play is titled Kuni-Leml, and the Jewish Repertory Theatre of New York previews the show beginning tonight at the Adolph and Rose Levis Jewish Community Center (9801 Donna Klein Blvd., Boca Raton). Previews continue through January 7; the show runs January 9 through 24. Tickets cost $25 or $30. Call 561-852-3241. See "Stage" listings for a complete performance schedule.
When saxophonist Kenny Millions jams at Sushi Blues Cafe, the Hollywood club he owns with his wife, he plays traditional blues. But on many recordings and during concerts outside his club, Millions, a.k.a. Keshaven Maslak, leans toward the edges of conventional music. The sax man also plays guitar and adds strange electronic samples to his tunes, plus he's recorded albums with the late Russian pianist and avant-garde pioneer Sergey Kuryokhin and with free-drum legend Charles Moffett. This kind of background makes "Mr. Florida's Avant-Blues Show" an apt title for Millions' performance today during The Sounds of Music -- Noontime Concert Series at the Boca Raton Museum of Art (801 W. Palmetto Park Rd., Boca Raton). Upcoming concerts will take place one Wednesday every month through May in the museum's outdoor sculpture garden. Call 561-392-2500 for details.