Merce Beaucoup

Top 5 Things to Do This Week: A dance institution takes a final leap … the Neos do seasonal theatre, sort of … Black Ensemble Theater moves into new digs, remounts a hit … free Dungeons & Dragons … plus, WBEZ reporter Natalie Moore’s weekend agenda

A scene from Merce Cunningham Dance Company's 'Antic Meet'
HAVE MERCE On the program for Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s final swing
through Chicago: Antic Meet (above).

THE FIVE

Don’t-miss picks for Wed 11.16.11 through Tue 11.22.11:

1

dance Merce Cunningham Dance Company
Last chance to see chance dance: This seminal postmodern institution—founded in 1953 by the ever-inquisitive Cunningham, who died in 2009 at the age of 90—stops in Chicago as part of its final tour before disbanding. Though carefully structured, most of Cunningham’s dances were arbitrarily set to music by his longtime partner, John Cage, with variations and performers determined by the toss of a coin. Among the rare treats on this bill: Antic Meet, an absurdist send-up of Martha Graham and her proclivity for camp, and Roaratorio, featuring a Cage score that radically manipulates James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, integrating ambient sounds from scenes in the novel. Don’t miss it.
GO: 11/18–19 at 8. $25–$65. Presented with the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago at Harris Theater, 205 E Randolph. harristheaterchicago.org

ALSO THIS WEEK: The five-year-old Elements Contemporary Ballet presents a world premiere by the former Joffrey dancer Brian Gephart before inviting guests to raise a glass at a postshow gala 11/19 at Center on Halsted.

2

theatre The Jackie Wilson Story
Black Ensemble Theater raises the curtain on its sparkling new Uptown digs with Jackie Taylor’s musical bio of Jackie Wilson, a show that reveals both the singer’s flaws (he was a notorious womanizer) and his musical genius (dozens of Top 10 hits). If you missed the play’s run both here and at New York’s famed Apollo Theatre in Harlem, go see—and hear—what makes it so irresistible.
GO: 11/18–1/8. $55–$65. Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, 4450 N Clark. blackensembletheater.org

3

theatre Burning Bluebeard
The theatre scene’s buffet of seasonal chestnuts beefs up from passed apps to all-you-can-eat this week (see “ALSO,” below), but we’re most interested in this unusual dish. Here, the Neo-Futurists conflate the deliciously grim fairy tale of Bluebeard with Chicago’s Iroquois Theatre fire, in which more than 600 people died during a Christmas Eve 1903 performance of the otherwise forgettable Mr. Bluebeard. Leave it to the Neos to take a serial-wife-murdering king and a tragedy and turn it into anything other than a drama (or a disaster). So, yeah, we’re curious. Nervous, but curious.
GO: Previews 11/17–18. Run continues through 12/30. $10–$20; previews and Thursdays are pay what you can. Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N Ashland. neofuturists.org

ALSO THIS WEEK: Larry Yando resurfaces after taking last year off (Bah, humbug!) from A Christmas Carol 11/18–12/31 at the Goodman. Meanwhile, dueling It’s a Wonderful Lifes return to American Theater Company (IAWL: The Radio Play; 11/25–12/24) and American Blues Theater (IAWL: Live at the Biograph!; 11/18–1/1 at Victory Gardens).

4

pop David Hidalgo and Louie Pérez
The songwriting duo Hidalgo-Pérez has always been the heart and soul (Cesar Rosas has been the guts and muscle) of the great roots rock outfit Los Lobos for the band’s nearly 40 years together. In these acoustic sets, the pair tell stories of their songs’ origins and take questions from the audience.
GO: 11/19 at 7 and 10. $34–$38. Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N Lincoln. oldtownschool.org

ALSO THIS WEEK: Ra Ra Riot makes intricate indie pop raised aloft by rippling bass grooves, lilting strings, and Wes Mile’s high, sweet voice. That’s 11/18 at Metro; three days later, Architecture in Helsinki, a co-ed ensemble hailing from—wait for it—Australia, brings spare but catchy electronic dance pop to the venue.

5

sports/rec McCormick Tribune Ice Rink
Millennium Park’s obsessively maintained patch of ice draws more than 100,000 twirlers, leapers, and side-huggers each year, but you can be among the first to hit the pristine rink when it opens for the season 11/18.
GO: 11/18–3/11, weather permitting: Mon–Thu noon–8, Fri noon–10, Sat 10–10, Sun 10–9; see website for holiday hours. Free admission; $10 skate rental. Millennium Park, Michigan and Washington. millenniumpark.org

ALSO THIS WEEK: Whether you find it a festive excuse to start your shopping early or a reason to stay home and avoid the traffic, the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival winds its way down Michigan Avenue 11/19 beginning at 5:30.

WHAT I’M DOING THIS WEEKEND

Natalie Moore, reporter for WBEZ's South Side bureau and author
Natalie Moore

Up next in our series of weekend plans from notable, in-the-know locals—a.k.a. people we like: Natalie Moore, the reporter for WBEZ’s South Side bureau; an author whose books include Almighty Black P Stone Nation: The Rise, Fall and Resurgence of an American Gang; and, this weekend at least, a fierce trivia competitor.

“Friday I want to go to my new favorite restaurant, GT Fish & Oyster. It’s a great place to go with a group because it’s shared plates. I had Chef Giuseppe Tentori’s food at a Food & Wine magazine event back in September and loved it so much that it led me to the restaurant soon after. The fish tacos and lobster bisque, which has really good chunks of lobster, are among my favorites.

“Saturday morning I’ll be stopping by the 61st Street Farmers Market, which moved indoors for the winter to the Experimental Station. I’ll be placing my order for an organic chicken for Thanksgiving. I typically stop by this woman from Brown Sugar Bakery who has this great peach cobbler. I’ve been a regular since the summer.

“Saturday afternoon I’ll be joining a team at WBEZ to participate in the Asian American Journalists Association’s annual Trivia Bowl, a fundraiser helping to raise money for scholarships. It’s sort of a bigger version of Trivial Pursuit, with categories ranging anywhere from Chicago history to arts and entertainment to politics. There will be over a dozen different media groups competing against each other. The ultimate prize: bragging rights. And Saturday evening there’s a closing art reception at Gallery Guichard. It features emerging and established contemporary artists representing the African diaspora. One of my favorites is Floyd Atkins. I like his use of color.

“Sunday I want to stop by the Crocodile Lounge in Wicker Park for a brunch series they have every weekend with the in-house DJ, DJ Jaytoo, [who plays] hip-hop and classic soul. He’s one of my favorites in the city because I often find myself learning about obscure soul music. [Some artists] sample these old songs in their music, but this DJ plays those originals. Plus, they have bottomless mimosas for only $10.” —As told to Heather Youkhana

FREEBIES OF THE WEEK

new music International Contemporary Ensemble
Sorry, Schroeder, but we’ve got a new toy-pianist to serenade us: The maverick musician, performance artist, and composer Phyllis Chen employs unorthodox instruments and video in a free evening of contemporary works with ICE.
GO: 11/16 at 7:30. Museum of Contemporary Photography, 600 S Michigan. iceorg.org

galleries Co-Prosperity Sphere
Nerds’ night out (and we mean that with the greatest affection): For the second year, Bridgeport’s Co-Prosperity Sphere hosts Level Eater, a show of art inspired by all things sci-fi/fantasy. Browse work by locals including Caroline Carlsmith and Jesse Avina, then stick around for live music at 9 and play-along (what else?) Dungeons & Dragons at midnight.
GO: 11/18 from 6 to 9; $5 cover after 9. 11/19 from noon to 6, with a second D&D session at noon. 3219–21 S Morgan. coprosperity.org

 

Photography: (MERCE CUNNINGHAM DANCE COMPANY) Yi-Chun Wu; (MOORE) Courtesy of WBEZ

 

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