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Cultural Can’t-Misses

February may be the shortest month of the year, but you wouldn’t know it from looking at the long list of spectacular performances and exhibitions taking place on Chicago’s thriving culture scene. Here are five must-attend events you’ll be sure to find us at this month.

Joffrey Ballet dancers in Episode 31

1. Contemporary Choreographers
The Joffrey Ballet’s winter program, running Feb. 12-23, boasts not one, but three company premieres. Named after the Chicago street, Crossing Ashland seamlessly merges pedestrian movement with the grace and fluidity of ballet, while Christopher Wheeldon’s decidedly modern Continuum features the equally original music of famed composer Gyorgy Ligeti. But the real showstopper is sure to be Alexander Ekman’s Episode 31, which nearly brought the house down during a preview at the Chicago Dancing Festival. The Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Parkway, 312.386.8905

2. Chicago Theater Week
All the city’s a stage Feb. 11-16, when 100 top productions, including Goodman Theatre’s Luna Gale and Steppenwolf’s Tribes, will be offering tickets for $30 or less. At prices that low, there’s no reason not to take in a show every night! Visit choosechicago.com for a full list of shows and locations.

3. Christopher Wool
From Feb. 23-May 11, the Art Institute of Chicago will be hosting the most comprehensive retrospective to date of Chicago native Christopher Wool’s prolific career. Expect scores of the esteemed abstract expressionist painter’s most thought-provoking pieces, including his iconic, tongue in cheek word art. Tickets $23. Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave., 312.443.3600

4. The Barber of Seville
Lyric Opera’s month-long production of Gioachino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville features the Lyric debut of the sensational (not to mention lovely) mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, who is fresh off her performance of the same role at the San Francisco Opera. Full of humor and romance, Seville will leave you leaving the opera singing “Figaro!” Tickets from $20. Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive, 312.332.2244

5. Russian Transport
Steppenwolf Theatre’s newest masterpiece, appearing Feb. 6-May 11, tells the story of an ambitious Brooklyn-based Russian family who will stop at (almost?) nothing to achieve the American Dream. Written by Erika Sheffer and directed by ensemble member Yasen Peyankov, this drama-turned-thriller is sure to leave you on the edge of your seat. Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St., 312.335.1650