The Washington Post critics choose their favorite shows of the week.


"Hispanic Art in the United States: Thirty Contemporary Painters and Sculptors" is a show that wars on grayness. Its unashamed vulgarities, its mobilized vitalities, its pieties and rages somehow skip the middle registers. Its colors -- hot pink, chameleon green, sky blue, shocking yellow, lipstick red -- make one's eyes ache. The blinding vision is well worth the heat. CLASSICAL MUSIC

Tenor Luciano Pavarotti sings at DAR Constitution Hall at 3 p.m. today, and at 5 p.m., pianist Gail Niwa plays Prokofiev and Scriabin at the Phillips Collection. Tonight, soprano Rosa Lamoreaux and bass Charles Williams perform Gershwin, Ellington, Weill and others in a "Celebration of American Song" at the Terrace Theater.

Contemporary music lovers have two excellent opportunities this week. Today at 3:30 p.m., the American Camerata for New Music will feature two works by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich at the UDC Van Ness campus. And on Saturday at 5:30 the British ensemble Lontano will be at the Hirshhorn Museum with a program entitled "The British Discover America," inspired by the museum's current exhibition of paintings by Lucian Freud.

If you enjoy chamber music, you can hear the Guarneri Quartet rehearse Brahms (for free) with pianist Evelyn Garvey Thursday night at the University of Maryland, attend the Juilliard String Quartet Thursday or Friday night at the Library of Congress and round out the week with the Washington Chamber Society at Montgomery College on Friday night or the French Embassy on Saturday night. DANCE

The New York City Ballet continues its run at the Kennedy Center Opera House with performances today and tonight, and resuming Tuesday through next Sunday.

Yoshiko Chuma and the School of Hard Knocks complete their debut appearance in Washington at the Dance Place tonight.

The Claudia Murphey Dance Company will premiere Murphey's "Movieola," with a commissioned score by composer Bob Read, at George Mason University's Harris Theatre in performances Thursday through Saturday.

Famed Spanish dancer Jose' Greco will be among the guest artists Saturday night when the Graciela Tapia Ballet Folklorica de Mexico performs at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.

Winding up the month-long "Japan-America Dance Project," the distinguished choreographic dance duo Eiko & Koma will appear at Dance Place Saturday and Sunday evenings. FILM

"I've Heard the Mermaids Singing," a low-budget comedy, easily took this year's Prix de la Jeunesse at Cannes. Canadian Patricia Rozema, the first-time feature director, also wrote and coproduced this look at the nature of art and inspiration. It stars the delightful stage actress Sheila McCarthy, Chaplinesque as the quirky heroine, an amateur photographer who becomes awed by a pretentious gallery curator. When she is rejected by this arty-smarty, the little shutterbug almost gives up her hobby. Luckily, she sees the curator for what she is, and hears the mermaids singing once again. At the Key. POP MUSIC

Ahmad Jamal plays this afternoon at Blues Alley, which also hosts a silent auction to benefit the Blues Alley Musical Society's programs for both youth and the elderly in Washington. The event starts at 1 p.m.

Which ones are Pink Floyd? Four nights at Capital Centre, approaching sellout, suggest that to many fans, it's the David Gilmour-Nick Mason-Richard Wright lineup. Monday through Thursday.

Minnesota's Hu sker Du

steps away from the concert stage and gets back to roots in a two-night club stand at the 9:30, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Four good bands, two of which -- Georgia's Royal Court of China and Canada's Northern Pikes -- have great potential, perform free at the Bayou on Tuesday. Also on the bill: Hurrah and Will & the Kill.

Tom Waits for Everyman? Probably not, but the great songwriter, not-so-great singer is at the Warner Wednesday and Thursday.

Pianist Don Pullen and clarinetist Hamiett Bluiett -- vanguard jazz duets at d.c. space on Saturday. THEATER

At Round House Theatre, Keith Reddin's sardonic "Rum & Coke" is a farce about a farce, a comic-book encapsulation of the disastrous American-backed invasion of the Bay of Pigs. An angry, funny, politically potent play, "Rum & Coke" has plenty of fizz, though the Round House production goes a little flat in some spots.