The Best of Days

Writer and director Christopher Ellis invents a contemporary pagan-centric Christmas celebration. Juniper and Lark, enigmatic storytellers living in a remote cabin, relate three intricate folktales that illuminate the poignant, obscure origins of many Christmas traditions (broom-riding La Befana, for example, flies through the night searching for the Christ child and bringing gifts to children until vainglorious Saint Nicholas muscles in on her turf). All the while the audience, seated at communal tables, feast on wine, wassail, Christmas pie, and sugar cookies. Performers DeZhané Rouse and Zoë Sapienza bring refreshing irreverence to their serious task.   ~ Justin Hayford

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SWITCH: Chicago Queer Partner Dancing

Imagine a safe space for LGBTQIA folks to partner dance free from traditional binary roles. That is what SWITCH: Chicago aims to provide

"We want to keep the format free and open and not really rigid and structured," said Seifert. "The emphasis is on dancing and the social community dance creates, and having it be queer-centered allows for LGBTQIA folks to feel safe asking anyone to dance. We really hope this event, which has been months in the making, is super successful so we encourage everyone to come out," said Seifert.  ~ Carrie Maxwell

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Circle in the Square: New Works in Dance Theatre

Christopher Ellis' heartbreaking "Zero Wun Niner Tango Copy" reimagined a painful relationship. Kelly Westergaard and Gina Stebbins portrayed a Vietnam-era housewife and fighter-pilot husband who track the early innocence and later neglect of their lives as a couple. Ellis used recorded voices of the disconnected couple, interspersed with the quick rewinding of a tape recorder, against the dancers executing their monotonous or adrenaline-driven tasks. The idea of flight took on opposing ideas: the soaring sense of early love and the desire to flee an empty comfort zone.

Dawn Marie Galtieri visualized the confounding grief associated with the death of an infant in "Woman With(out) Child." Against the sound of a heartbeat, dancer Heather Lindahl -- with a softly expressive face -- moved in a repetitive circular pattern, from gestation to birth to a void. Motherly gestures, such as lifting a blanket to admire the baby or chasing after a toddler, registered an unfathomable numbness once the child was no longer there.   ~ Lucia Mauro

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