Dancers from the Hyde Park School of Dance Credit: Marc Monghan

Looking to fill your dance card? Here’s some events and activities to consider this weekend and beyond.

FRI 12/10

The Japanese Arts Foundation is teaming up with the Logan Theatre to present  Tekkonkinkreet. Also known as Black & White, the movie is based on a manga series of the same name that follows a pair of orphaned street kids—“the tough, canny Black, and the childish, innocent White”—as they deal with Yakuza attempting to take over the fictional city of Takaramachi (Treasure Town). From 7-9 PM, there will be a Takaramachi-themed holiday party including highballs from House of Suntory, fried chicken from Parsons Chicken and Fish, Christmas cake, and a city pop set by DJ Van Paugam as well as custom Tekkonkinkreet face masks, movie posters, and raffles ($38, includes film screening, 21+). Then Derek Larson (Assistant Professor of Animation at Purdue) and Derrick Fields (Assistant Professor of Game Art at Northwestern) will give a brief talk on what makes this such a landmark film. The movie starts at 9:20 PM. If you just want to catch the talk and movie, it’s $15. Proof of vaccination is required.

Hyde Park School of Dance shakes up their annual version of The Nutcracker this year by reimagining the battle between the mice and the toy soldiers as an actual dance battle, not something involving deadly weaponry. It’s directed by August Tye, longtime ballet mistress of Lyric Opera, and it runs tonight at 7 PM, as well as Saturday at 1 and 6 PM and at Sunday 2 PM. Performances are at Mandel Hall (1131 E. 57th), and tickets are $10-$40 (available at hydeparkdance.org.) A streaming version ($30) will also be available to view Sat 12/18 at 6 PM, and Sun 12/19 at 2 PM.

Earlier this week, American Blues Theater announced that longtime ensemble member John Mohrlein had died after a long battle with cancer. Mohrlein had been hoping to return to his dual roles of Mr. Potter and Clarence in ABT’s It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!, which he performed for 20 years. That production took a COVID hiatus last year, but it’s back through 12/31 at Victory Gardens, with Joe Dempsey stepping into the roles that Mohrlein made so memorable. Kerry Reid says of the ABT show, “Nothing here feels phoned in or phony; it all hits the seasonal sweet spot.” Tonight’s show starts at 7:30 PM; tickets ($25-$65) and other performance times are available at americanbluestheater.com.

SAT 12/11

Another Nutcracker finds an inventive way to Duke it Out! The Music Institute of Chicago brings back their holiday presentation, which combines Tchaikovsky’s original score with Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s version. The production, which is family-friendly and a spritely 60 minutes, features Axiom Brass and the Music Institute ensemble-in-residence quintet Attacca, with dancers curated by Dance Chicago from a wide array of troupes and training organizations. It happens today at Nichols Hall (1490 Chicago) in Evanston, 2 PM; tickets $10 at musicinst.org.

In what’s become an annual tradition, Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas hits the Hideout this weekend (1354 W. Wabansia) with four shows. It’s a beautiful and fun holiday show that takes inspiration from the Jim Henson-produced and Paul Williams-scored 1977 TV special of the same name, with live music by the Emmet Otter All-Stars. Showtimes are 3 and 7 PM today and tomorrow, and while kids of all ages are welcome, proof of vaccination is required for entry. Advance tickets are available at the Hideout’s website.

A song from the 1977 TV special.

In the not-too-distant future (tonight, actually), you can check out the Mystery Science Theater 3000 LIVE: Time Bubble Tour. Emily Connor (Emily Marsh), Tom Servo (Conor McGiffin), Crow (Nate Begle), and Mega-Synthia (Yvonne Freese) will take you on a snarky journey through Making Contact (aka Joey), a 1985 West German techno-horror-fantasy film cowritten by Roland Emmerich, in which a nine-year-old boy attempts to reach his dead dad, only to be terrorized by possessed ventriloquist’s dummy named Fletcher. Recommended for 10+. CIBC Theatre (18 W. Monroe), 8 PM; tickets $71.50-$146.50 at ticketmaster.com.

At 9 PM tonight, a new monthly dance night trafficking in darker electronic music called Bent debuts at boogie hotspot Podlasie Club (2918 N. Central Park). New York underground DJ Akua is joined by local favorites D. Strange and Makeen and up-and-coming Detroit transplant Sard. Podlasie is a cash-only venue, and this event has a $15 cover. However, a few list spots are reserved for low-income dancers who need to get their groove on without breaking the bank. Trans and queer people of color to the front, please! To get on the list, contact Bent through Instagram.

SUN 12/12

What do Santa and a polar bear have in common? They both want you to sit on their laps this weekend. (Naughty!) From 1-4 PM, former Chicago artist Diego Leclery’s polar bear costume makes its twelfth appearance at the 4th Ward Project Space (5338 S. Kimbark) for a de-commercialized way to get some hugs and holiday cheer. Bring friends, family, and neighbors to this free and funky photo-op complete with cookies and hot beverages. As Leclery explained to Chicago Magazine in 2019, “I want a child and an MFA grad to have the same experience … The piece is meant to be responded to, not thought about. The important thing is what happens when you’re with it. It’s important that everyone loses their shit.”

Brave Space Alliance (1515 E. 52nd) knows nothing brightens up a home in December quite like plants. That’s why they’ve been marking the transition from fall to winter with a series of garden party fundraisers. From 4-6 PM today they’re offering a plant swap, skillshare, and raffle hosted by Jyreika of JyPlants. Whether you’re just learning to use your green thumb or you’ve been blessed with an abundance of cuttings, this earthy in-door gathering is sure to warm you in multiple ways.

The Occult Christmas Market puts the bizarre in bazaar this weekend from 4-10 PM at the Den Theatre (1331 N. Milwaukee). Over 30 local vendors ranging from artists to witches to psychics will be offering strange and unusual treats for everyone in touch with their dark side. Your $5 RSVP earns a chance to spin the “big wheel” for prizes, but there will be cocktails, giveaways, and more throughout the evening. Proof of vaccination required.

MON 12/13 

It’s the last Monday Night Foodball for the year (stay tuned for more innovative food pop-ups in 2022)! Head over to the Kedzie Inn (4100 N. Kedzie) for a one-night collaboration between chef Jennifer Kim of Alteconomy and chef Nariba Shepherd (aka Trini Zaddy) as they bring an Afro Caribbean-Korean mashup to the table. Pre-ordering is available as well as walk-up, and it all starts at 5 PM. 

Vic Mensa is doing a DJ set at the Promontory (5311 S. Lake Park West) tonight with a live performance by Shameka Jones to raise money for Dr. Ameena Matthews’s congressional campaign. Matthews was born and raised on the South Side and has made it her life’s mission to take a holistic, trauma-informed approach to eliminating violence there. Since 2006, she’s worked as a self-described “violence interrupter” with projects such as Cure Violence and even founded Pause for Peace. $20 gets you access to the show. $50 shows support for Dr. Matthews and includes campaign swag. $500 allows you to meet Mensa and Dr. Matthews as part of the host committee. This event is open to those 18+ and starts at 7 PM. 

TUE 12/14

Zine Club Chicago is doing an online holiday zine making hangout at 7:30 PM. Make mini zines—and new friends to mail them to! All you need is a piece of paper and some creativity. To keep this a safe space, organizers ask RSVP via email (zineclubchicago@gmail.com) by 9 PM on 12/13. You’ll receive the Zoom link by 11 PM that evening.

Quimby’s suggests that new zine-makers check out this three minute tutorial.

Bart, Liam, and Maggie Winters are literally putting themselves in the holiday spirit with their showcase Winters Wonderland. In addition to sibling ribaldry, expect music from Melkbelly’s Miranda Winters and Meat Wave’s Chris Sutter as well as comedy cameos from Eunji Kim, Jordan Stafford, Jerwin Gabriel Santiago, Parker Callahan, Michael Brunlieb, and Jack Felker. The show starts at 8:30 PM at Sleeping Village (3734 W. Belmont), and proof of vaccination is required. $17, $15 in advance, 21+.

WED 12/15

This is the final week to catch Leonardo Kaplan’s exhibition Learning to Cry Like a River in Spring” at Paris London Hong Kong (1709 W. Chicago). In this show, Kaplan blows up scans of weathered public service announcements about AIDS that appeared on the back of gay men’s pulp magazines during the 80s. Kaplan, an immigrant whose sexual awakening came at the height of AIDS panic, reflects on the monumentality and stigma of his early encounters with these community-driven awareness campaigns, especially now experiencing a second pandemic disproportionately impacting people of color who are involved in service work and nightlife, like himself. The gallery is open 11 AM-6 PM through Saturday, when the show closes.

Our music writers recommended several shows happening tonight in our last round of concert previews: at 7 PM, fans of shredding guitar rock would do well by themselves to catch Nita Strauss (recommended here by longtime Reader contributor Monica Kendrick) who’s worked with Alice Cooper and others from her home base in LA. She headlines a 17+ show at Reggies Rock Club (2109 S. State), with tickets available in advance at Ticketweb

Also at 7 PM, you can catch punk-pop rapper Rico Nasty (the Reader’s Janaya Greene called her powerful) working the stage at Radius (640 W. Cermak) alongside Detroit rapper Danny Brown for a Red Bull Soundclash event. This show is open to 17+, and advance tickets are available at Axs.

If you’re interested in something very very loud (and sometimes, that’s all that you need), Reader contributor Luca Cimarusti urges you to go to the Metro (3730 N. Clark) tonight for Metz and their high-volume noise rock. This show is 18+ and starts at 9 PM; advance tickets are available at Etix.  

THU 12/16

From 5-7 PM, the National Museum of Mexican Art (1852 W. 19th) will be holding their fall exhibition for Yollocalli, the museum’s award-winning youth program that provides free art materials, studio space, classes, and programming to teens and young adults ages 13-24. 

To celebrate the rare Wax Trax documentary bonus film Accidents and Outtakes dropping on the Coda Collection, a newer online channel that streams music documentaries and concerts, House of Vans (113 N. Elizabeth) is screening its predecessor, Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records at 6 PM. Throughout the screening, commentary will be provided by director Julia Nash, label staff member Andy Wombwell, and musicians Groovie Mann and Chris Connelly. A Q&A session will follow for the audience. While this event is sold out, it will be live streaming for free on the House of Vans Channel 66 website.

For some people nothing says holiday season like a chorus belting out Handel’s Messiah, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus is prepared to give you the goods this weekend. Four performances are on deck (conducted by Nicholas McGegan) and it all starts tonight at 7:30 PM. Advance tickets are $41-$299 and available at the CSO’s website.

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