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Harris Theater of Music and Dance kicks off family series

Mummenschanz mesmerizes Jan. 19 2013 as part Harris Theater’s Bring Family Series.

Mummenschanz mesmerizes Jan. 19, 2013, as part of the Harris Theater’s Bring the Family Series.

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Theater’s Bring the Family Series

♦ Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph

♦ (312) 334-7777;

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Aimed at creating memories and fostering an appreciation of the arts, the Harris Theater’s Bring the Family Series kicks off Dec. 1 with the Trey McIntyre Project (which also performs at noon and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30). The internationally renowned troupe from Boise, Idaho, will be followed by Mummenschanz and Walt Whitman’s Soul Children of Chicago later in the season.

Artistic director/co-founder/choreographer McIntyre and his troupe are known for their storytelling style of ballet. At the Harris the troupe will perform “Ladies and Gentle Men,” inspired by the songs and stories from the 1972 TV special “Free to Be ... You and Me,” and excerpts from “The Unkindness of Ravens,” a recent collaboration between McIntyre and the Korea National Contemporary Dance Company. McIntyre was selected as a cultural ambassador through DanceMotion USA, the U.S. State Department’s cultural diplomacy program, and “Ravens” is the creative result of its tour of East Asia.

Dancer John Michael Schert, co-founder and executive director of Trey McIntyre Project, said with “Ladies and Gentle Men” McIntyre took the content of “Free to Be” (celebrating its 40th anniversary this year), remembered how it affected him as a child and “built an emotional narrative off of that.”

Also celebrating its 40th anniversary, Mummenschanz offers its mesmerizing brand of silent physical theater at 2 p.m. Jan. 19. Everyday objects become engaging characters in the hands of this Swiss troupe, which also performs at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 18.

“Mummenschanz is so totally different from almost anything else you can see,” said Michael Tiknis, president and managing director of the Harris. “It introduces movement as, in effect, dance in a way that we think young people will be engaged.”

Walt Whitman’s Soul Children of Chicago, who were a hit last year, return to the Harris to round out the series at 2 p.m. Feb. 9 in a Black History Month salute to diversity, Tiknis said.

“We think the idea of children performing for families is enormously, not just entertaining, but we think it’s enormously attractive,” he said. “It … provides the opportunity for children to see other young people — children — on stage as performers exercising some artistic development and discipline.”

Combined, the three groups help the Harris achieve its goal of providing affordable cultural experiences that families can enjoy together, Tiknis said.

“The three of them sort of hang together in a sense that they all show enormous creativity. They are all meant to be consumed by both adults and children, not just children, and that’s the main focus of the family series, to get families together to have an experience in the arts. … We want people to come in, particularly young people, to come in and say ‘I wasn’t sure that I was gonna like that but I did.’ ”


♦ Luna Negra Dance Theater continues its Luna Ninos family series with the second installment of its dance cycle based on the adventures of a young girl. Moniquilla and the Moon Monster runs Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 at the Ruth Page Center, 1016 Dearborn. Tickets are $15. Call (312) 337-6882 or visit

♦ The holiday favorite The Other Cinderella returns to the Black Ensemble Theater, 4450 N. Clark, for its biennial appearance. The twist on the classic tale runs through Jan. 13. Tickets are $55 to $65. Call (773) 769-4451 or visit

♦ Take a train ride through the winter countryside to visit Santa Dec. 8 and 9 or Dec. 15 and 16 at the Illinois Railway Museum, 700 Olson Road in Union. Tickets are $12 and include warm treats and gifts. Call (815) 923-4000 or visit

♦ Winter WonderFest, Navy Pier’s 12th annual salute to the season, runs Nov. 30 to Jan. 6 and offers indoor ice skating, rides, a ropes course, a climbing wall, entertainment, food and more. Admission is free; activity wristbands are $16 to $20; discounts on activity wristbands and parking are available online. The pier is at 600 E. Grand; call (312) 595-7437 or visit

♦ Featuring skating on an NHL-size rink, Skating in the Park runs through Feb. 24 at MB Financial Park, 5501 Park Place, Rosemont. Skating is free; skate rental is $8. Visit for more information.

♦ Cantigny Park’s Celebrate the Season Holiday Festival features a tree-lighting ceremony, ice carving, caroling, live reindeer and more from 4 to 7 p.m. Dec. 1. Admission is free; parking is $2. Cantigny is at 1S151 Winfield Road in Wheaton. Call (630) 668-5161 or visit

Jennifer Burklow is a local free-lance writer.

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