Six shows ya gotta see this November

The Shows Ya Gotta see is a monthly series highlighting "must-see" performances curated by See Chicago Dance critics.

If you’re in need of something wacky, whimsical and weird…

Ya gotta see Poonie’s Cabaret on Nov. 1

This monthly anything-goes salon whose namesake died of AIDS in the ‘90s celebrates life in every fabulous way. Drag, burlesque, dance, music, puppets, spoken word, cheerleading—I did mention that anything goes, right? The only constant at Poonie’s Cabaret is its fun, soul-affirming, unabashed commitment to joy-filled artistic experimentation. Nov. 1 at Links Hall, 3111 N. Western Ave. Tickets are $15, available by clicking the event page below.


In search of a gripping, daring, intimate production?

Ya gotta see Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble and RE|Dance Nov. 5-20

The moment you’ve been waiting for is here: Live theater and dance is back! Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble (CDE) and RE|Dance Group offer three consecutive weekends of uniquely provoking, multidisciplinary split-bill performances in CDE’s signature tanztheatre style. This contemporary reimagining of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s 1890 short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” and RE|Dance’s telling of escape and desire in “The Attic Room” offer imaginative reflections on matters of isolation, memory and (in)sanity that are sure to be as moving as they are momentous. November 5-20 at The Auditorium at Ebenezer Lutheran Church, 1650 W Foster. General admission tickets are $20, available on the event page below.


Are you up for something gritty, thrilling and introspective?

Ya gotta see Akram Khan in “Xenos” on Nov. 12 and 13

Although the Greek title of the show translates to “foreigner”, audiences around the world are no stranger to Akram Khan, who, in “Xenos”, combines Kathak—a classical dance style of Northern India whose expressive movements belie its intricate foot-percussion—with Western modern dance, the Greek mythological story of Prometheus and the obscured history of Indian soldiers who fought for the British in WWI, only to be met with scorn upon returning back to India. Khan performs his signature style of bodily undulations, sometimes fluid and other times morose, while surrounded by thick, tangled ropes and set against a crumbling hill of dirt and chalk. In what will be Khan’s final appearance in a lead role in a feature-length performance, Xenos is an introspective dive into what it means to be trounced around by history and tradition. Nov. 12 and 13 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph. Tickets are $35-140 and are available on the event page below.


Are you in the mood for fierce, feminine body-positivity?

You gotta see The Modern Marvels Dance Company Nov. 19-21

All odds were against dancer Kate O’Hanlon, whose severe scoliosis couldn’t keep her from becoming an accomplished professional dancer and starting her own company, The Modern Marvels. Get O’Hanlon’s full “Back Story” in The Modern Marvels’ newest performance, a virtual event that benefits Lurie Children’s Hospital. O’Hanlon, with dancers Hannah Bailey, Patrick Justin, and Jessica Kick, shares her personal journey starting from the moment she face a possible spinal fusion to her life as a powerhouse contemporary dancer today. Nov. 19-21 virtual event. Tickets are $10-$40 and are available on the event page below.


If you’re up for a guttural, enchanting and profound evening,

Ya gotta see Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Nov. 18-21

Precariously balancing arousal with constant sensorial stimulation, Aszure Barton’s “Busk” is “authentic humanity,” as she describes it, that is genuine and tenderly held by all those within the space—because it is so rare. It grips you tightly between the ribs like a well-intentioned but heavy-handed grandmother who gruffly swipes the dirt and grime from you. It is, without a doubt, a show you have to see, joined by new work from Jermaine Maurice Spivey and the wistful return of “Jardi Tancat” by acclaimed choreographer Nacho Duato in Hubbard Street’s long-awaited return to the stage. Nov. 18, 20 and 21 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph St. Tickets are $15-$110; details at the event link below.


How about something exuberant, heartwarming and off-the-walls fun at home?

Ya gotta watch “The Big Leap” Monday nights on Fox.

“The Big Leap,” a new series that spoofs reality-dance programs like “So You Think You Can Dance,” profiles a group of diverse underdogs who aspire for a second chance in life by competing in a reality-show dance contest. Bright and colorful dance breaks feature a wide range of talent and styles like footworking, tap dance, ballet, a hip-hop pas de deux… you name it. Yes, this is a national television show, but the dancing couldn’t be more Chicago. The show features a cast packed with home-grown talent from Chicagoland, such as Rachel A. Kim (Buffalo Grove); Jeri Quinones (Naperville); Chicagoans Torrin Clifton, The’Ray Hale, Bril Barrett and Donnetta Jackson; Stanley Glover (a Chicago native now in Pittsburgh) and former Joffrey Ballet star Fabrice Calmels, who currently calls Los Angeles home. “The Big Leap” airs Mondays at 8pm CT on Fox.


Contributors to this month’s Shows Ya Gotta See: Sophie Allen, Tristan Bruns, Kennedy Ward and Lauren Warnecke