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April 9
Just watching one of his films doesn't do justice to the life and career of the late, great black actor and Renaissance man. So as part of the Paul Robeson Centennial Celebration, the biographical film The Tallest Tree in Our Forest will be shown. Born April 9, 1898, in Princeton, New Jersey, Robeson was only the third black student to attend Rutgers University when he entered in 1915. He excelled not only in academics, but in sports as well, winning fifteen varsity letters in football, basketball, track, and baseball. While earning his law degree at Columbia University Law School, he took up acting, and his powerful singing voice earned him stage and screen roles in Show Boat. More than 300 recordings followed, and, between 1933 and 1942, Robeson appeared in ten films. Quite a life, but Robeson could have done much more. In the '50s, however, he espoused socialism as a way to fight racial discrimination, and he was promptly blacklisted. For the rest of his life, which ended in 1976, he was a tainted man. Today many recognize him as a pioneer. The free celebration takes place at 7 p.m. at ArtServe Auditorium, 1350 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. For more information call 954-698-5680.

April 10
Boca Ballet Theatre's mission is two-fold: Bring in professional guest dancers to give the community some culture, and have the pros teach the amateur and student dancers a lesson or two. When Heather Sanders and Alexander Kedrov step into the lead roles of The Sleeping Beauty, the ballet company's dancers will soak up the pros' expertise while performing alongside them in the smaller roles. As it turns out, the pros have plenty to offer audiences, too. Sanders, a Miami native associated with the Southern Ballet of Orlando, studied at the American Ballet Theatre school and was a principal dancer with the Atlanta Ballet. The Russian-born Kedrov became a soloist less than a year after joining the elite Bolshoi Ballet in his homeland. In recent years he's worked extensively with American companies. The classic Tchaikovsky ballet will be presented tonight at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Olympic Heights Performing Arts Theater, Olympic Heights High School, 20101 Lyons Rd., Boca Raton. Ticket prices range from $15 to $21. Call 561-995-0709.

April 11
Too many teams and too much money spent on star players brought down the North American Soccer League in the mid-'80s. But, for the last three years, team owners have been playing it smart with the United States' second experiment with outdoor professional futbol, Major League Soccer. Gradual team expansion and a salary cap are the league's biggest rules. One of two new teams to join the league this year is the Miami Fusion, which is already a hit. Home games are played at Lockhart Stadium (301 NW 12th Ave., Fort Lauderdale), former home of the NASL's Fort Lauderdale Strikers. The largest soccer crowd in the stadium's history -- 20,450 fans -- attended the Fusion's home-opener loss against defending league champs D.C. United. The Fusion has since won a game, but even losing contests seem to be a lot of fun for the fans. Latino soccer lovers come out in droves and lead spirited chants of "AVamos Fusion!" ("Let's go, Fusion!") and "AOle! Ole!" ("Bravo! Bravo!"). The Fusion takes on the Kansas City Wizards tonight at 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices range from $10 to $30. Call 954-717-2200 or 888-387-4664.

April 12
It's Easter Sunday, and families are flocking to... a mountain-bike race, of course. Novice riders and professionals will churn up the mud along the wooded course in separate heats during the Sandblasters Mountain Bike Race Series event today at Markham Park (16001 W. State Rd. 84, Sunrise). "Because we're elevation-deprived here, we try to make all of the trails of all of our courses as technically difficult as possible," says race director Dan Edgar. The three-and-a-half-mile course has plenty of tight, twisty turns, short-but-steep uphill and downhill sections, and obstacles on the trail, including rocks and logs. The first heat starts at 8:30 a.m., the last takes off at 1 p.m. Registration is $10 to $30 for the National Off Road Bicycle Association event, and an additional $3 fee applies for nonmembers. The energy-deprived are welcome to watch for free. Call 954-424-7506.

April 13
So you say that new theory you have about government conspiracies being a government conspiracy has been keeping you up nights? Your friends just don't understand? Obviously, they're not deep thinkers like you are, so give them a break and bring your thoughts to light among a group of like-minded strangers on Philosophy Night. No topic is off-limits for discussion during the weekly session at Clematis Street Books (206 Clematis St., West Palm Beach), so you'll be able to rant, ramble, ponder, and pontificate on the problem of suffering, the nature of beauty, or any other "deep" subject that might pop up. It's free to take part in the ongoing group, which meets from 8 to 10 p.m. every Monday, and always welcomes new minds. Call 561-832-2302.

April 14
In Rob Becker's Defending the Caveman, the standup-comic-turned-Broadway-performer delves into the male-female dichotomy with humorous illustrations to which any couple can relate. There are bits on the remote-control wars (channel surfing for him, one show for her), for example, and pulling over to ask directions (she wants to, he refuses to). These differences can be traced to humankind's knuckle-scraping ancestors, says Becker. Inspired by the misunderstandings in his own marriage, he launched into anthropological research to quiet the home front, and found that the male's go-for-the-kill hunting instincts clash with the female's gathering-based behavior. But we can get along, he insists. It's just a matter of understanding the motivations of the opposite sex, and with a Flintstones-inspired armchair and TV for a set, Becker explains them in 90 minutes. Caveman, which played to packed houses in Fort Lauderdale and Miami just over a year ago, returns to the Parker Playhouse (707 NE 8th St., Fort Lauderdale) for a run today through April 26. Curtain times are Tuesday through Friday at 8 p.m. (no show Tuesday, April 21); Saturday at 5, 7:45, and 10:30 p.m. (except April 25 -- 5 and 8 p.m.); and Sunday at 3 and 7 p.m. Ticket prices range from $34.50 to $44.50. Call 954-763-2444.

April 15
What was it like to be a young dancer in a West African dance troupe? For one thing, there were no costume designers on staff, so in addition to dancing and singing, young performers made their own threads. And in the program Sharing Africa, kids learn about African culture by reenacting the lives of such dancers while they are taught dance movements, traditional songs, choreography -- and costume-making. Master drummer Bamba Ndiaye of Senegal, West Africa, instructs, and drummers from his professional company, Ballet Bambatouba, perform live. A $30 fee covers the introductory session of five classes, which take place Wednesdays (4 p.m.) and Saturdays (10 a.m.) at Holiday Park Activity Center, 730 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale. To register call 954-771-3666.

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John Ferri

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