Don’t-miss picks for February 14 through February 20, 2019
1 Ananya Dance Theatre
Dance:This Twin Cities–based company makes its Dance Center debut with Shyamali, a work by contemporary bharatanatyam pioneer Ananya Chatterjea. The dance, whose title is a Bengali word for how grass springs back up when trampled on, is about resilience among communities that rise to fight injustice.
2/14–16. $10–$30. Dance Center, Columbia College Chicago. dance.colum.edu
2 Rachmaninoff & Tchaikovsky
Classical:The Chicago Symphony Orchestra shakes off the jet lag from its recent tour of Asia with the thundering Piano Concerto No. 3 of Rachmaninoff. The virtuoso Macedonian pianist Simon Trpceski solos. The program’s second half is more contemplative, with Tchaikovsky’s seldom-played Symphony No. 1, nicknamed “Winter Dreams.”
2/14–17. $40–$234. Symphony Center. cso.org
Festival:Pitchfork’s summer festival has become one of the most anticipated local events of the year, so it’s a big deal that the music website has created a winter offshoot, held in the Art Institute, an improbably cool place to stage such a showcase. Among the highlights, some of which are already sold out: titanic saxophonist Kamasi Washington, avant-pop pioneer Laurie Anderson, and local instrumental rock group Tortoise. Where a ticket to the July fest allows you to see all the acts, many of Midwinter’s prime bookings require additional fees on top of the general admission.
2/15–17. $50–$530. Art Institute of Chicago. midwinter.pitchfork.com
4 Chicago Public League Final Four
Basketball:How intense is the city’s annual playoff of public high school teams? Consider that among this year’s four semifinalists could eventually emerge three state champions. Curie, ranked 10th nationally by MaxPreps, is a favorite in Class 4A. Morgan Park has a good shot at repeating in 3A. And Orr is a virtual lock in 2A. They won’t meet in the class-divided state tourney, so watch them duke it out now.
Semifinals, 2/15, 5:30; championship, 2/17, 4:30. $10 each day. Jones Convocation Center, Chicago State
5 The Man Who Was Thursday
Theater:Policeman-slash-poet Gabriel Syme goes undercover in a council of anarchists in G.K. Chesterton’s 1908 espionage farce set in a phantasmagoric London. What kind of anarchists organize a council? Good question. Playwright Bilal Dardai and director Jess Hutchinson, who first mounted the twisty stage adaptation of the novel in 2009 for the now-defunct New Leaf Theatre, reteam for this remount, making it a must-see #TBT.
2/15–4/7. $20–$40. Lifeline Theatre. lifelinetheatre.com
6 The Scarlet Ibis
Opera:Few art forms have a stodgier reputation than opera. But Chicago Opera Theater positions itself to be anything but, with its young leadership and its productions of works new to the city, including this moving story of brothers in North Carolina during World War Ⅰ, which the New York–based opera incubator Beth Morrison Projects premiered in 2015.
2/16–24. $45–$145. Studebaker Theater. chicagooperatheater.org
7 Mike Pence Sex Dream
Theater:A recently married gay couple wrestle with the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election in different ways: Ben finds himself driven to distraction by national politics, while Gary is disturbed by the erotic dreams he keeps having about the decidedly un-gay-friendly new VP. First Floor Theater artistic director Hutch Pimentel stages this dark comedy by New York playwright Dan Giles.
2/16–3/16. $20–$25. Den Theatre. firstfloortheater.com
8 Algorithms Are the Utensils We Use to Devour Each Other
Art:Think of all the high-tech gadgets you once prized, then, years later, threw out. Michael Dinges’s artwork conveys the ephemerality of contemporary technology, primarily through his engravings — dazzling patterns grafted onto dead laptops. Stare long enough and a hidden slogan might pop out of a black-and-white design, like the statement made in the exhibit’s technophobic title. Is it a searing critique of internet-addicted culture, or just the latest trend in salvage art?
FREE 2/16–3/30. Living Room Gallery. livingroomrealty.com/events
9 Presidents’ Day at the Chicago History Museum
Talk:Citizens of all ages will appreciate this commemoration of the executive office, which features arts and crafts, a performance by the Chicago Brass Band, and a photo op with Abe and Mary Todd Lincoln (played by impersonators Michael Krebs and Debra Ann Miller of With Lincoln Productions).
FREE 2/18 at 10 a.m. Chicago History Museum. chicagohistory.org
10 Frequency Festival
New Music:The weekly Frequency Series at Constellation increases its, um, frequency, for a five-day festival of adventurous and experimental sound art. The party kicks off with champions of indeterminacy Aperiodic at an off-site concert at the Renaissance Society. The Saturday and Sunday slots see stalwarts of the new-music scene International Contemporary Ensemble and Ensemble Dal Niente, the latter premiering two major pieces.
2/20–24. Free–$15. Various locations. constellation-chicago.com