Ballet Folclórico Nacional de México brings its colorful performance of traditional Mexican dance to San Jose's Hammer Theatre Center. (Photo courtesy of Columbia Artists)

The Bay Area is a hub of artistic expression, attracting artists, writers and musicians from around the globe to live, work and create. We highlight some of the offerings here

• Drama! Music! Mystery! Romance!: Follow the peregrinations of a superbly crafted instrument as it changes hands over the course of four centuries in five different cities across the globe. “The Red Violin,” Francois Girard’s lush 1998 film plays out on the California Theatre stage in San Jose, as Symphony Silicon Valley plays the score live. Shih-Hung Young conducts the orchestra as guest violinist Lara St. John performs the solo passages. (Factoid: It was incoming S.F. Symphony music director Esa-Pekka Salonen and star violinist Joshua Bell who did the original work for composer John Corigliano’s Oscar-winning music.) Among the huge movie cast, you will recognize Samuel L. Jackson and Greta Scacchi. 8 p.m. Jan. 24-25 and 2:30 p.m. Jan. 26 at 345 S. First St. $50-$98; 408-286-2600 or

• The real thing: Ballet Folclórico Nacional de México is a lot of things: a supremely gifted and entertaining dance troupe, a living, breathing chronicle of authentic traditional Mexican music, dance and fashion, and a globe-trekking ambassador for Mexican culture. With a repertoire ranging from the traditional Mexican hat dance to the free-flowing Yaqui deer dance, the troupe comes to the Hammer Theatre Center in San Jose at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 24 and 25. Tickets are $30-$45;

Vocalist Theo Bleckmann joins the Telegraph Quartet and pianist Dan Tepfer for an evening of cabaret music at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco. (Photo courtesy of Caterina Peri)

• Come to the cabaret: In an evening of highly charged collaboration, celebrated German jazz vocalist and composer Theo Bleckmann — a man equally at home with art song, show tunes and avant-garde music — joins the Bay Area-based Telegraph Quartet and prize-winning pianist Dan Tepfer for an evening of Berlin cabaret music. Some selections from Bleckmann’s “Songs of Love and War, Peace and Exile” album are on the program, which will also include works by Kurt Weill, Charles Ives, Richard Strauss, the German band Kraftwerk, Broadway composer Richard Rodgers and others. The music starts at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 25 at the Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness, San Francisco. Tickets, &45-$60, are at 415-677-4325 or

Phoebe Robinson is sure to have a lot to say at SF Sketchfest when she sits down with Favianna Rodriguez at 8 p.m. on Jan. 23 at the Marines’ Memorial Center in San Francisco. (Photo courtesy of artist)

• Fun with Phoebe: Comedian, author, actress and all-around provocateur Phoebe Robinson is best known as creator and star of the podcast/TV show “2 Dope Queens” and the hit New York podcast “Sooo Many White Guys.” She also penned the New York Times bestselling essay collection “You Can’t Touch My Hair & Other Things I Still Have To Explain.” Needless to say, Robinson has a lot to say about race, sex, gender and other matters that people tend to get squeamish or peeved about. She’ll be at Marines’ Memorial Center in San Francisco at 8 p.m. Jan. 23, in what’s sure to be a lively chat with Favianna Rodriguez. Tickets are $25-$45. It’s all part of SF Sketchfest, which runs through Jan. 26 with shows all over the city — see the schedule at

• A ‘Monster’ mash: In “She Kills Monsters,” a woman tries to reconnect in some way with her deceased sister by entering the fantasy world of “Dungeons and Dragons.” It might sound creepy, but the playwright is Qui Nguyen (best known for “Vietgone”) who’s a wizard at blending humor, poignancy and far-flung cultural references in his works. Actors Ensemble of Berkeley is presenting the play at the iconic Berkeley venue La Val’s Subterranean Theater, which is tucked in the basement of a pizza joint. The show runs through Feb. 1; $15-$25; 510-649-5999,