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Best of Chicago 2013 » Arts & Culture

Best Dance Venue in New Digs 

Links Hall

Links Hall

Links Hall

OK, let's make this clear: Links Hall, 35-year-old hothouse for some of the city's most innovative dance and performing art, is no longer at Links Hall, the Wrigleyville building that was its longtime home. This spring the organization signed a ten-year lease with musician and producer Mike Reed, and now makes its home at Constellation, otherwise known as the former Viaduct Theater, at 3111 N. Western. The new space, a still-grungy storefront in the shadow of a soon-to-be-deconstructed overpass, has two spacious studio theaters: a white-washed 60-seater with natural light and a beautiful new sprung-wood floor; and a black box that seats up to 150 with a portable dance floor (on loan until the next phase of renovations). There's also a lobby bar: Constellation is the proud possessor of a brand-new city liquor license, which will help keep studio rental fees low. The arrangement is already yielding more collaborative live music and dance programming. For the sake of continuity and, no doubt, the amusement of future cognoscenti, Links Hall is hanging on to its name.

Critics' Picks

Best View From a Performance Space

915 E. 60th St. 773-702-2787
It has plenty of studio, gallery, and performance spaces, indoors and out, but this is its most magnificent asset. And the winner is …

Best Amateur Hip-Hop Dancer Who's Also a Professional Wrestler

2418 N. Ashland Ave. 773-904-8170
If you can execute a moonsault, hip-hop will be a snap, of course. And the winner is …

Best Dance Venue in New Digs

3111 N. Western Ave. 773-281-0824
The 35-year-old dance hothouse is keeping its name, though. And the winner is …

Best Outré Dance

To some folks, all dance is weird. But whatever oddity they might see in ballet, this goes way beyond it. And the winner is …

Best (and Most Vocal) Mime

He's meddling, misshapen, and intent on pushing audiences outside their comfort zones. And the winner is …

Best Performance in a Fat Suit

2433 N. Lincoln Ave. 773-871-3000
This actor has some experience with padding. And the winner is …

Best Theatrical Use of Unruly Facial Hair

An unholy mess on top of his head and a beard to make a rat's nest look like a model home And the winner is …

Best Farewell to Bricks and Mortar

A comic deconstruction of a classic Cervantes tale as a last hurrah And the winner is …

Best Uncategorizable Weirdness

Discussed: Veganism, pet pigeons, kite flying, beating the shit out of people And the winner is …

Best Lost Soul

1650 N. Halsted St. 312-335-1650
An actress plays a carrier of secret traumas. And the winner is …

Best Example of Youth in Revolt

An art world where there are no hierarchies, no stereotypes, no cliques And the winner is …

Best Small Venue for Big Ideas

2579 N. Milwaukee Ave. comfortstationprojects@gmail.com
It's a shelter for trolley passengers! No, it's a storage shed for the city's lawn equipment! No, it's . . . And the winner is …

Best Approximation of the Final Scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark

University of Chicago, 1155 E. 58th St. 773-702-9514
Plenty of treasures remain in storage in the basement. And the winner is …

Best Potential National Park

Pullman may become a national park, which would make it the second in Illinois, after Abraham Lincoln's home in Springfield. And the winner is …

Best Architectural Open House

224 S. Michigan Ave. 312-922-3432
Behind-the-scenes access to some of the city's most fascinating architectural treasures And the winner is …

Best Career Move

She might be effecting for herself a second career as badass as the first. And the winner is …

Best Work of Art Masquerading as a Book

It's so gorgeous that you may be tempted to leave it in the shrink-wrap. And the winner is …

Best Novelist Moonlighting as a Bartender

2026 W. Webster 773-276-3411
Behind the bar, he's a smiley, upbeat, tolerant bartender. Behind the keyboard, he's an aspiring fantasy-fiction novelist. And the winner is …

Best Book for the Disillusioned Artist in All of Us

The story revolves around two purposeless artists hell-bent on fumbling into some kind of purpose. And the winner is …

Best Beautiful Young Reader of Poetry

If the days of bashful, taciturn poets are numbered, this poet sure has the shtick to prove it. And the winner is …

Best Film Retrospective

164 N. State St. 312-846-2600
The series on this forgotten French comedian was eye-opening. And the winner is …

Best Avant-Garde/Experimental Film Series Located in a Mexican Restaurant

3329 W. Armitage 773-486-0378
A nondescript Logan Square taqueria becomes an art house theater. And the winner is …

Best Free VHS Collection

4455 N. Lincoln Ave. 312-744-7616
It's only a vestige of its former self, but it still contains plenty of gems. And the winner is …

Best Underused Screening Room

220 E. Chicago Ave. 312-280-2660
An auditorium makes a movie seem striking even before it begins. And the winner is …

Best Outdoor Screening Series

2579 N. Milwaukee Ave. comfortstationprojects@gmail.com
There's no better place to see a movie under the stars—er, street lights. And the winner is …

Best New Underground Venue

7200 S. Kimbark
It screens independent and experimental films that illuminate the African-American experience. And the winner is …

Best Late-Night Programming

1517 W. Fullerton Ave. 773-281-4114
Midnight mindfuck cinema, and a bar nearby And the winner is …

Best Comedy Show in Front of a Magazine Rack

4736 N. Lincoln Ave. 773-293-2665
Nothing about this show is traditional. And the winner is …

Best Open Mike for Bringing Chicago Together

The unpretentious open mike has seen drop-ins from the likes of Hannibal Burress, Neal Brennan, and Eric Andre. And the winner is …

Best Revealing Joke About a Family Member

4008 N. Lincoln Ave. 773-251-1539
A comic endears himself to the audience via his father's secret hobby. And the winner is …

Best Semblance of an Arts Salon

200 S. Michigan Ave., 22nd floor 312-922-8080
Not only did it survive, it's in the midst of a renovation. And the winner is …
(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)