Arts & Culture

VIDEO: Dancing helps students balance school and social life

By Megan Kramer

From AP classes to college applications and part-time jobs to volunteering, four student captains of Auroris Dance Company at Niles North High School are juggling busy schedules as they near graduation.

While dance is yet another activity to fit into their schedules, the captains are finding that this shared passion is actually helping them prioritize their time, foster social lives and escape from stress. Continue reading

Pop punk travels the world

by Constantina Kokenes

Superheroes, pop art and plagiarism comprise the traveling 2014-2015 exhibition “Erró: American Comics” on display at Mana Contemporary Chicago on 2233 South Throop Street in Pilsen. The exhibition hails from Mana Contemporary’s New Jersey gallery in Jersey City, and the pieces were given to Mana Contemporary from Galerie Ernst Hilger, an art museum in Austria that features many of Erró’s works. Erró, an Icelandic artist, uses American comics, pop culture and pop art in his 11 works created between 1979 to 2009 to explore cultural and social contradictions. Continue reading

Feminists Ride the Next Wave

By Jessica Gable

A buzz of high-energy conversation enveloped participants in the Goodman Theatre’s Context event at Wicker Park’s Geek Bar Beta on Tuesday, Feb. 17. Specialty drinks of all colors and sizes were poured and French fries and the bar’s Awesome Sauce consumed with gusto. Faces of women, who mostly made up the crowd of several dozen, and men grew flushed with feeling as they geared up for an evening discussing the topic of the Goodman Theatre’s current show Rapture, Blister, Burn: feminism and its myriad incarnations.

“It was so deep and there were so many layers,” said Shannon Downey, self-proclaimed geek and one of the evening’s discussion leaders. “I walked out of there and I didn’t know what to do. I was like ‘I sort of want to cry. I sort of want to punch someone. I sort of want to skip down the street. I don’t know!’”

Downey and other panelists led discussions about specific topics assigned to individual tables. The topic at Downey’s table of five was Women in Technology, Gaming and Geekdom. Other topics were #feminism, The Male Gaze Through the LGBTQ Lens, and Women in Comedy. Each person sat at two different tables of their choice throughout the evening.

Rapture, Blister, Burn by Gina Gionfriddo introduces the audience to four women with very different views on feminism, views that shift as the play progresses. First, the audience meets Gwen and Catherine- best friends who lost touch after graduate school and reunite 20 years later. Gwen dropped out of school to make a family with the boyfriend Catherine left behind when she moved to London and became a feminist scholar. Then there’s Avery, Catherine’s twenty-something student who identifies with the more inclusive focus of Post-Third Wave feminism, and Alice, Catherine’s mother who grew up in an era when women were expected to be homemakers and dependent on men. As the women navigate the range of modern feminist ideology from Schlafly to Friedan, the audience can’t help but do the same.

“It is such a conversation provoker, such a thought provoker,” said 23-year-old Goodman Theatre intern Nikki Veit. “We interns at the Goodman sat down for an entire lunch period discussing, debating, articulating, analyzing this play. I haven’t seen a play recently that has had this much impact on my life.”

Veit, who identifies as gay, tried the Women in Comedy table and then transferred to the Male Gaze Through the LGBTQ Lens group. She argued vehemently that the play lacked relevance to modern feminists.

“Betty Friedan and Phyllis Schlafly…they’re so dated,” she said. “Right now, we’re talking about inclusivity. Like, different races, different sexualities, different gender spectrum. I think that’s the next step for feminism.”

Rebecca Kling, a transgender performance artist and educator, led the discussion at the Male Gaze table. She steered the conversation to topics not necessarily covered explicitly in the play. They included the power associated with men who ogle women and whether or not the gaze of gay men and women is or should be subject to the same scrutiny.

“With each subsequent wave of feminism there’s sort of been a fracturing,” Kling said, “but at the same time an expansion of who’s included.”

Feminism’s primary advocates are no longer predominantly middle class, educated young white women, said Kling. She encouraged the women at the table to welcome Post-Third Wave.

“We can’t be looking at just–in big air quotes–the idea of ‘womanhood’,” Kling said. “We have to be thinking about race and age and ethnicity and religion and economic status and all of those other things.”

The cast of Rapture, Blister, Burn discuss the modern views of feminism in a scene from the play. (Liz Lauren/Goodman Theatre)

Parental panic and gender politics collide in “A Kid Like Jake”

By Elizabeth Elving

Midway through Daniel Pearle’s “A Kid Like Jake,” a pregnant woman is asked if she’s hoping for a boy or a girl. It doesn’t matter, she says, as long as it’s healthy. But we already know this to be misleading. The play’s expectant couple live in a world where toddlers are touted as prodigies and phrases like “the Harvard of preschools” abound. In this world, it’s not enough for children to be healthy. They must be exceptional.

The play follows Alex, a well-bred blonde Manhattan mom (Katherine Keberlein), and her therapist husband Greg (Michael Aaron Lindner) as they scramble to get their 4-year-old son, Jake, into an elite private school. The rigorous application process and the notion of paying $20,000 for kindergarten will be cringingly familiar to some audience members, anthropologically foreign to others.

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Female Athlete Triad can lead to serious consequences

By Katherine Dempsey

Tina has only gotten her period once during college.

The 21-year-old runner at a Big Ten university remembers seldom menstruating in high school or in college. Diagnosed with anorexia during her freshman year of high school, Tina – whose real name has been changed to protect privacy – spent several weeks out of school for treatment and to escape from the academic pressure that she says sparked her eating disorder.

Tina didn’t participate in track her freshman year of high school, and she says she remembers weighing less than 90 pounds at her lowest weight. With running, the anorexia also related to a her focus on eating right to run well and that turned into limiting the kinds of foods she ate. Continue reading

VIDEO: Flatts & Sharpe Co. keeps music real in Rogers Park

By Beth Werge

Despite the rise of software instruments, Flatts & Sharpe Music Co. is a locally-owned music shop that’s making sure real instruments aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

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Lunar New Year celebrations kick off in Chicago

By Beth Lawrence

Lunar New Year, also called Chinese New Year, is one of the most celebrated holidays in China. The Chinese Fine Arts Society is bringing that celebration to Chicago with the city’s second annual Chinese New Year celebration.

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Love, peace and soul — on gig posters

By Antoinette Isama

Chicago’s nightlife scene peddles its wares through posters that are pasted on poles, thumbtacked on cork boards and attached to messages on the Internet. It’s a must that these posters pop; they are vital to drawing a crowd for live performers and shindigs alike.

A monthly dance party at Wicker Park’s Double Door has been practicing that art of attraction through its posters since its first night on the turntables.

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VIDEO: “Ash and dash” hits Chicago

By Abigail Hodgson

One Chicago parish is taking Ash Wednesday outside church walls and onto the streets of Chicago.

For people too busy to attend an Ash Wednesday service, Urban Village Church volunteers positioned around the city – from CTA stations to popular lunch stops – spreading ashes on foreheads in a visible cross accompanied by the words “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Continue reading

President to dedicate Pullman Park as Chicago’s first national monument

By Matt Yurus

President Barack Obama heads home Thursday to designate America’s next national monument: Chicago’s historic Pullman Park, a site that was home to unprecedented advances in industrialization and impacted African-American and labor history.

In 1879, George Pullman, the man who gave America the luxurious Pullman railcar, built his factory and America’s first “company town” on the Far South Side of Chicago. Continue reading