Open Hearts and Pocketbooks at Hubbard Street’s $800K Evening

Those folks at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago sure know how to throw a party. I didn’t really think they could top last year’s Spotlight Ball featuring THE Mikhail Baryshnikov, but all the fancies came out of the woodwork for a beautiful, inspiring, and incredibly lucrative night for Hubbard Street. Between gala tickets, silent auction and an exciting live auction netting $200K, Monday’s Spotlight Ball brought in more than $800,000 to benefit artistic and educational programming, so it was a pretty good day in the office for them.

I managed to rock my $10 dress from Marshalls and didn’t get embarassingly drunk. So I call it a big win for me, too. Continue reading


Eighty Years of Thankful*

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Second only to the Macy’s parade in NYC, Chicago knows how to throw a party. Through the years, the parade has been a standing tradition for many families watching in person or on television, or as volunteers along the route.

It’s easy to get caught up in the holidays and forget what makes them awesome. As we fought for a parking spot at the grocery store this morning, amidst a police shake down of an unruly customer, we heard on the radio that a guy is already lined up for Black Friday.

Yeah, no joke. He has turkey delivered to his tent on Thursday.

My hope is that people remember that this isn’t supposed to be about consumerism, and fighting over parking spots, and non-stop glutinous eating and drinking. It’s supposed to be about friends, and family, and spreading joy, gosh darn it.

I won’t be making it to the parade this year… on the docket this Thanksgiving is a 5K Turkey Trot in the ‘burbs benefitting the Crystal Lake Food Pantry. But as I warm up with brunch and a hot apple cider post-3.1 miles, I’ll be sure to tune in on the tele (with thanks that I’m not stuck in downtown traffic).

Check out this amazing photo montage spanning 1935-2004. The parade was initially called the Christmas Caravan (these were the good old days pre-corporate sponsorships). The floats, balloons, and attractions change, so you can go back time and time again for a new experience each year. Those of you who are suckers for vintage (like me) might find this really cool!

Many thanks to The Silverman Group for sharing these photos.

*Read: I accept defeat on the 20-day challenge to document the things I’m thankful for. Look, I’m not perfect, ok? Better luck next year, I suppose.

Re-imagining the Partner: Lauren Warnecke’s Pre-Reflection on the Final Moving Dialogs of the Season — The Art of Partnering

I’m so excited to be a part of this all-star event, the final “Moving Dialogs” of the season. As the featured writer, here is my pre-reflection on Monday’s event!

Audience Architects

Dance writer Lauren Warnecke of Art Intercepts ( ) reflects on her experiences as a dancer & choreographer exploring “The Art of Partnering”: the theme of our final Moving Dialogs of this season, occurring at Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts’ performance penthouse this Monday, November 18th from 6:30pm – 8:30pm.

Re-imagining the Partner

As a dancer-in-training I only ever did two lifts. Playing the part of the Maid in The Nutcracker, I had one lift at the end of the party scene in which Uncle Drosselmeyer gave a boost to my final Italian pas de chat before dashing off stage left. The other time was during a summer workshop rendition of Rodeo, in which the boy (the one boy at our studio, who was significantly scrawnier than me) hoisted me into a split jump – or at least, that was the goal. In the middle of rehearsal…

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Nothing Says Thanksgiving Like Cleaning Up Horse Poo

2011 Audience3Most families sleep in, have brunch, and, in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago, flip back and forth between the Macy’s parade and the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade.  This was my routine growing up, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m still figuring out what my Thanksgiving traditions look like in adult life.  I don’t live in the suburbs, I don’t have kids… I generally still go to my Mommy’s house for all the trimmings and a half-hearted attempt to enjoy football.

That leaves the morning free to establish a T-Day tradition of my own, and maybe it should be this:

The McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade is seeking volunteers to participate in its 80th trip down State Street.  Various roles are available, including Balloon Handlers, Route Marshals, Tech Crew, Hospitality, and Poo Crew.

You heard me right. Poo Crew.

You know all those horses in the parade? Somebody’s got to clean up after them.

Who’s with me?!?

Volunteer applications for the 80th annual McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade will be accepted through October 18, 2013.  For more information or to apply for the Poo Crew, visit  All volunteers are required to attend Parade School at the Museum of Science and Industry (5700 S. Lake Shore Drive) Saturday, November 9, 9 am.  General admission to the museum is free to Parade School attendees for the rest of the day.

High Art and Haute Cuisine at TASTE, a benefit for HSDC

TASTE - JPEG Invitation

When someone tells me to drink fine wine in the name of art, I say,

“Where do I sign up?”

It’s not too often that my worlds of dance and domesticity collide, but it’s worth mentioning that an upcoming soiree benefitting  Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is right up my alley (and by that I mean drinking on a Monday night in a swanky cocktail dress).

Hubbard Street is one of the city’s finest dance companies, and having just kicked off its 36th season, the timing is perfect for a celebration. This TASTE is the fourth of its kind, and will feature fine and rare wines from Hart Davis Hart Wine Company (vintages ranging from 2000-2010) alongside savory bites from Chef J. Joho of Everest – where the event is being held. For an event of this caliber, the $275 price tag is likely to be totally worth it.  I’m thinking my first glass of wine is coming from a bottle worth at least that much…

You know you want this.

Scott and Allison Ohlander, left, with Craig and Maria Brahamat restaurant L2O for TASTE 2013. Photo by Robert F. Carl.
Scott and Allison Ohlander, left, with Craig and Maria Brahamat restaurant L2O for TASTE 2013. Photo by Robert F. Carl.
Hart Davis Hart tasting table in L2O dining room, TASTE 2013. Photo by Robert F. Carl
Hart Davis Hart tasting table in L2O dining room, TASTE 2013. Photo by Robert F. Carl

TASTE takes place Monday, November 4, 6-8:30pm at Everest (440 N. LaSalle St., 40th fl.). Tickets are $275 and can be purchased through Jeanne Newman, Manager of Individual Giving and Special Events at 312-850-9744 ext. 130. Space is limited; all proceeds benefit Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s artistic and educational programming.