American Dance Festival
Duke CampusBrush off the tuxedo, and get that (preferably fake) fur out of the cleaners; Thursday is Opening Night 2008 at the American Dance Festival. First Lady Mary Easley is scheduled for opening remarks commemorating the festival’s 75th anniversary. Afterward, we get to see exactly what makes choreographer (and painter, sculptor and MacArthur “genius grant” recipient) Shen Wei’s Connect Transferthe “paintbrush” piece that premiered here in 2004 the “new version” promised in the pre-season literature.

Those enamored with Mr. Shen’s work will actually have the chance to take a piece of it home with them. Sections of the canvas his dancers paint will be on sale in the lobby of Reynolds Theater before and after each performance, with proceeds going to the Preventative Wellness Fund for Dancers.The evening continues with Ailey II’s critically acclaimed staging of Alvin Ailey’s Revelations, and David Parson’s gravity-defying Caught. Half-price student rush seats are available one hour before the performance, subject to availability. Visit www.americandancefestival.org, and also check out the Indy‘s ADF blog at www.indyweekblogs.com/adf. Byron Woods

Chapel Hill
On Agate Hill
Deep Dish TheaterBased on the novel by North Carolina novelist Lee Smith, On Agate Hill is a one-woman play starring fellow North Carolinian, actress Barbara Bates Smith. Smith starred in another Lee Smith-inspired play, the off-Broadway Ivy Rowe, based on the novel Fair and Tender Ladies. Deep Dish’s production features a score that uses vocals, banjo and hammer dulcimer, attempting to contribute to the tale’s poignancyin which the young heroine, Molly Petree, religiously writes in her diary as the world outside her barrels ahead. Tonight, Lee Smith attends the performance and holds a post-performance discussion of the play, as well as signs books in the lobby after the show. Tonight’s show is at 7:30 p.m., followed by Friday and Saturday’s 8 p.m. performances and a 2 p.m. Sunday matineewith only Saturday and Sunday performances to close next weekend. For more info, visit www.deepdishtheater.org or call 968-1515. Megan Stein

Chapel Hill
John Rosenthal
Center for the Study of the American SouthKatrina. The word still hangs in the air and remains a shamefully potent metonym for an abject American failurea failure the culture is still grappling to process and understand.

After the national tragedy, and in the wake of the initial documentary rush, photographer John Rosenthal visited New Orleans’ Ninth Ward and created images of a community lost. Photographers often muck around aesthetically interesting abandoned buildings, but rarely is a narrative extracted that involves such a vitally topical issue as the New Orleans developer’s bonanza that is currently unfolding at the expense of once vibrant neighborhoods.

In advance of a show at New Orleans’ African-American Museum in Treme (just a few blocks from the French Quarter), Rosenthal’s Ninth Ward photography will be on view at the Center for the Study of the American South through Aug. 15. Rosenthal discusses the work during today’s 4-6 p.m. opening reception at the center. Visit www.unc.edu/depts/csas for more info. Douglas Vuncannon

Making Notes with Don Dixon, Peter Holsapple, Ann Wicker
Quail Ridge Books and MusicMaking Notes: Music of the Carolinas creates a selective anecdotal history of music in North and South Carolina through 70 loosely curated essays. Omissions abound (especially as the state relates to indie rock), just as filler is found (especially as empty, self-aggrandizing nostalgia is bound to sink into volumes like this). But Red Clay Rambler Bland Simpson, whose prose shines through decorated simplicity, sheds new light on his old band, and Don Dixon recalls the quandaries of making R.E.M.’s first recordings in Winston-Salem. “Very fresh. Original in the best way. Music that made Toto fans furious,” writes Dixon of the up-from-Athens act. Tonight, Dixon reads and plays, as well as dB Peter Holsapple. Editor Ann Wicker speaks about the project at 7 p.m. Admission is free. Grayson Currin

Chapel Hill
Damien Jurado/ Jeremy Enigk
Local 506Tourmates Damien Jurado and Jeremy Enigk chase a strong romantic muse with disparate approaches: Jurado is the more comfortable of the two, making rust-belt anthems with a guitar and a battered, workman voice. The best of his songs turn episodic tragedy into impressionistic short films, illustrating a scenario with elliptical details that let you sharpen the images with those in your own memory. Former Sunny Day Real Estate and The Fire Theft frontman Jeremy Enigk launches similar sentiments into wide, arching anthems. He uses unexpected chords and patterns to build suspense and, ultimately, offer resolution. His formula has a million acolytes. You might know them by the term “emo.” Pay $14-$16 for the 8:45 p.m. bill. Grayson Currin