Swan Lake enchants at the Auditorium Theater

By Elizabeth Czapski | staff writer

The Joffrey Ballet’s opening performance of Swan Lake at the Auditorium Theater in October offered Christopher Wheeldon’s elegant and thought-provoking reimagining Peter Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet.

Wheeldon’s Swan Lake first premiered with the Joffrey in Chicago in 2014 and became one of the Joffrey’s best-selling productions, according to a press release from the ballet company. Now the production has returned to Chicago.

According to the press release, Wheeldon’s vision was influenced by the paintings of Edgar Degas, who was a contemporary of Tchaikovsky and painted ballerinas at the Paris Opera. The program explains Degas also painted ballet patrons, who were assumed to be interested in ballerinas beyond their careers.

Wheeldon’s Swan Lake is set in 19th-century Paris and presents a ballet-within-a-ballet; the Paris Opera is putting on a production of Swan Lake, and a wealthy patron enters the picture, chatting with some of the ballerinas. The principal dancer, who plays Siegfried in the opera’s production, becomes suspicious of the patron’s intentions. Eventually, the principal dancer is consumed by the dances he is rehearsing—fantasy and reality blend together—and he becomes Siegfried, and the story of Swan Lake begins.

The suspicious patron in Wheeldon’s Swan Lake becomes the evil sorcerer Von Rothbart in the principal dancer’s fantasy, creating another remarkable connection to Degas’ artistic themes.

The dancers deliver the story with passion, grace, precision and stunning athleticism, transitioning flawlessly from scene to scene, emotion to emotion. Sorrow turns to love, turns to playfulness with incredible expression. A can-can and strip tease from cabaret dancers provides a light-hearted moment in Act III. The Chicago Philharmonic, conducted by Scott Speck, pulls the audience into the story through the score.

The costumes and set design are nothing short of magical and recall Degas’ paintings.

The Joffrey’s Swan Lake is an outstanding ballet that is not to be missed. The show runs Oct. 17-28 at the Auditorium Theater of Roosevelt University at 50 E. Congress Parkway. More information at joffrey.org.

Reilly announces updates to Parcel O plans

Staff report

In late September, Alderman Brendan Reilly announced that Magellan Development agreed to work a number of public improvements into their project at 193 North Columbus Drive, commonly known as Parcel O.

The public improvements came from a public meeting held with the New Eastside Association of Residents (NEAR) in July. Reilly pointed out that the development group did not need to agree to any public improvements by law, but they agreed to build the improvements after extensive negotiations with Reilly. In a recent newsletter, Reilly credited the public support for the public improvements with the success of the negotiations.

Magellan will pay for the improvements, which are expected to aid pedestrian and traffic safety.

The proposed improvements include a pedway connection through Village Market and Blue Cross/Blue Shield to the greater pedway, improved lighting, public elevators servicing the 3 levels of Columbus Dr., as well as numerous improvements for pedestrians and vehicles.

Some of those improvements include:
•    A new traffic signal will be installed at Upper Columbus and East South Water Street.
•    At the intersection of Upper Columbus Drive and South Water Street, the crosswalk will be realigned on the south leg of the intersection. The east end of the crosswalk will move to the corner next to the Aqua building rather than the corner next to the fire station.
•    At the intersection of Upper Columbus Drive and South Water Street, a curb bump-out on the southwest corner will be installed to narrow the roadway and pedestrian crossing distance on Columbus Drive.

Reilly said the project must get Lakefront Protection Approval from the Chicago Plan Commission, and when that vote occurs, Reilly will announce it in his newsletter.

Football fandom for complete dummies

By Tom Conroy |

Staff Writer

The weather is cooling off and the leaves are starting to change, which means it’s time to stay inside all day Sunday and watch football. That’s an easy task if you are a football diehard like myself. However, that can be far more daunting for someone who may only be a casual fan or for someone who does not watch at all. If this is you, and you find yourself at a bar or a Sunday watch party, here is how to get by like a pro:

 

  1. Following multiple games is necessary

 

Your friends might all be Bears fans, but don’t be alarmed if someone insists on switching over to the Steelers-Bengals game. It probably means that someone at your gathering has Ben Roethlisberger or A.J. Green in their fantasy game. Things can get even more confusing if your host has the NFL RedZone channel, which switches between games automatically if a team is close to scoring. If you find yourself lost, just latch on to the Bears’ bandwagon and cheer whenever you see the navy-blue-and-orange pop up on the screen.

 

  1. Everyone hates Roger Goodell, and you do, tooYour friends will probably bring up the NFL commissioner at least once and it will be negative. Whether it has to do with the national anthem, concussion protocols, new penalty rules or his absurd $200 million contract, Goodell will always draw the ire of fans regardless of their viewpoints. Do not waste time forming your own opinions about the man; just hiss whenever you hear his name.
  2. Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are necessary evil

Bears fans are sick of losing to Rodgers and the Packers. The entire NFL is sick of watching Brady and the Patriots in the Super Bowl. However, refrain from wishing season-ending injuries on either quarterback. I was at the Bears-Packers season opener at Lambeau Field and witnessed Bears fan cheering at the sight of Rodgers leaving the field with a potential knee injury only to exclaim in agony when he returned later in the game to pull off the victory. Guess what? It was one of the most exciting and compelling games I’ve ever watched. Rodgers and Brady may win all the time, but football is more compelling when they are on the screen. If you hear your friends complaining, remind them how unwatchable the Packers were last year with A.J. Hundley at QB.

 

  1. Sundays are now your new cheat dayDiets are hard when pizza, wings, beer and every other game-day-indulgence surround you. If you know that you will be gorging yourself on Sunday, plan ahead. Get in your exercise and healthy eating during the week. Pack some fruit if it is a potluck gathering. And make sure to drink plenty of water to avoid a Monday hangover.

Published October 2, 2018

All Eyes on the Sky

For a few moments last week, Americans across the map were united in one thing – their eyes were on the sky.

On Aug. 21, the first total solar eclipse in decades swept across the United States, with the moon blocking out the sun’s light as it passed. This type of eclipse had not passed through Chicago in more than 90 years.

The moon began to block the sun above the city at 11:54a.m. with 87 percent of the sun covered by 1:19p.m. Despite cloudy skies, crowds gathered across the city to stare up at the historic event.

With food trucks, entertainment, and of course, a hefty supply of eclipse glasses, crowds gathered to stare up as the eclipse moved. With the Chicago skyline behind them, many lay out blankets on the grass and made themselves comfortable as they awaited the eclipse.

Dustin Farrington and Brooke Denny were among those seated on the lawn, having traveled from Lansing, Mich., to watch the eclipse at Adler Planetarium’s Eclipse Fest. The two drove over three hours to attend the festival, using the cosmic event as an excuse to visit Chicago.

“I’ve never been to Chicago before, so since the solar eclipse was happening we woke up and came here to watch,” said Farrington.

Although the Chicago skies didn’t see “totality” – the sun being blocked entirely – Denny said the festival made it worth the trip.

“Being around people who appreciate this as much as we do is really cool,” said Denny, “The environment is really great.”

And there were plenty who appreciated the significance of the event here in Chicago.

More than 45,000 spectators gathered outside of Adler Planetarium for the Chicago Eclipse Fest, grabbing up all 40,000 pairs of glasses Adler distributed the morning of the eclipse. In total, the planetarium gave out over 250,000 pairs of glasses. The glasses helped prevent eye damage, caused by looking directly at the sun, and were given out for free across the city as part of Adlers “Equipped to Eclipse” campaign.

For those who made a last minute decision to watch the eclipse, plenty of other opportunities were available for safe viewing. An activity station allowed visitors to craft their own mechanism from boxes and duck tape, while volunteers like Isobell Tallenar showed guests how to use a modified telescope.

Tallenar explained to a line of spectators that scientists from the planetarium used a 3D printed to create “an aparatus out of shower curtain and construction paper that makes a mini sun theater.” The telescope projected a viewing of the eclipse for those who didn’t have glasses to watch it first hand.

“It’s like a live stream,” said Tallenar.

As the eclipse progressed, Megan Trinh adjusted the glasses on her three-year-old daughter Madeline, and instructed her to look up and look for a little sliver of light. When the three-year-old south loop resident caught a glimpse she pointed toward the sun — “I’m excited,” she said toward her mother.

“She loves the planetarium,” Trinh said of her daughter, who she said watched PBS cartoons about eclipse to prepare for the event. Her love of the space museum meant they couldn’t miss the festival. Trinh said her husband waited in line for 45 minutes at two different libraries to find the glasses for their daughter.

Many other parents made sure that their children would not miss out on the historic event.

June Murdock brought her two children, Keanu Keys, 8, and Lyric Keys, 5, to watch the eclipse. The children lay on their backs on the planetarium stairs, looking up through their glasses. Murdock, from Washington Heights, said she brought her kids to the festival for quality family time.

“I was eight-years-old the last time I saw something like this,” said Murdock, “and for them this is the first opportunity.”

Locals, tourists, families and space enthusiasts all enjoyed an afternoon of eclipse-themed art work, 3-D chalk creations, food trucks, and arts and craft activities before and after they set their sites on the sun.

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