Arts and Culture: Shall we dance?

I devote the final post in the Arts and Culture series to what is probably the oldest art of all: dance. There are not many opportunities these days to see true, artful dancing, but a university town has more than most. The DeBartolo Performing Arts Center is a great place to see ballet and other forms of dance either on stage or on film. This season’s highlights include visits to the stage by UZIMA!, Jessica Lang Dance, and the Grand Rapids Ballet.

Here are some other places to check out in South Bend and in Chicago.

Southold Dance Theater

Southold is home to a pre-professional ballet company drawn from the Michiana area. Much of their work is comprised by education, but they do put on two performances each season in the Morris Performing Arts Center. The first is a performance of what is probably the most well-known ballet of all time: The Nutcracker, a staple of the holiday season, to be performed three times on December 9-10. Tickets start at $20. In May, the company will also be putting on Don Quixote.

Joffrey Ballet

The Joffrey Ballet is a world-class professional dance company that is based in Chicago. If you are willing to make the trek to the city, you can see some of the best performers in the United States during one of their four performances every season. Naturally, they will be performing The Nutcracker throughout the month of December, but they also have other worthwhile performances in the spring. $15 student rush tickets are available in limited numbers on the day of each performance; otherwise, tickets start at around $35 apiece.

Of course, the Joffrey isn’t the only ballet company in Chicago. Other venues to see ballet (and many other types of performances) include the Harris Theatre, the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, and Hubbard Street Dance.

Living Cheap in South Bend: 10 Restaurants Under $10

Chicory Café

Located on the corner of Michigan and Jefferson in downtown South Bend, the Chicory Café serves a smorgasbord of Cajun-themed foods, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Most sandwiches are less than $7 and most entrees  less than $9. Nearly the entire breakfast menu is under $5. The food is delicious and the venue is charming. One visit will surely turn into many more!

J.W. Chen’s

Between Studebagels and The Salvation Army Family Store on South Bend Ave, you’ll find J.W. Chen’s, a local favorite for MSG-free Chinese cuisine. Most dinner plates come in below $10 and there is a full range of lunch specials for $6 or $7. The owner, Jean, takes orders herself and regularly recommends dishes to her guests based on their preferences.

Mango Café

Across the street from J.W. Chen’s is the small Mango Café, specializing in Venezuelan food and burgers. With a large number of vegetarian dishes, sandwiches, and Venezuelan specialties (including cachapas and patacones), most of which are $9 or less, this is one South Bend eatery that is not to be missed.

Allie’s

Allie’s is open Tuesday through Sunday for breakfast (served all day) and lunch. The full breakfast menu includes all of the standards, plus a bit more, with sandwiches, salads, and burgers for lunch, all for under $10 and often much less. Allie’s also serves a $10 Polish dinner all day on Saturday. The restaurant is located on Mishawaka Ave just east of IUSB.

Girasol

A hole-in-the-wall, cash-only, carry-out joint serving Salvadoran cuisine, Girasol is known especially for pupusas, tamales, and horchata. Although you’ll have to take your food elsewhere, expect to spend somewhere in the range of $5 for delicious, homemade food.

Nick’s Patio

At Nick’s Patio, near the crossroads of Ironwood and South Bend Ave, you can eat 24 hours a day. Breakfast and lunch are affordable, with most options coming in under $9, including breakfast casseroles, omelettes, pancakes, waffles, sandwiches, and burgers. Many of the dinner plates, with sides and bread, are also available for reasonable prices.

Toscana Pizza and Pasta

Near Nick’s Patio on Ironwood, Toscana serves a small menu of Italian entrees and sandwiches for $10 or less. Their specialty, however, is pizza with a Chicago-style thin crust (only the personal size is under $10). Carry out your pizza or enjoy it on site–no matter which way you slice it, the Italian family who runs this joint serves up some delicious food.

Cambodian Thai

Lovers of Thai food (and who isn’t?) need look no further than Cambodian Thai in downtown South Bend, where there are only two options over $10: a whole fish, steamed or fried. Soups, curries, noodles, and specialty plates are all on the menu, as well as decadent Thai iced tea and coffee.

Blaze Pizza

For less than $9, Blaze Pizza serves an 11″ personal size pizza with all the toppings you want: that’s one price for any toppings. The word is that the joint has some deficits when it comes to customer service, but the food is still delicious, especially for the low price.

Evil Czech Brewery

While it may surprise some that Mishawaka’s Evil Czech Brewery made it onto this list, there are two simple reasons: Burger Box Monday and Taco Tuesday. Evil Czech is a craft brewery that serves a variety of delicious American and pub foods, well worth a visit even on days when they don’t have specials. On Mondays, however, they run a special on burgers: $10 for the burger plus fries. Tuesday’s deal is even better: street tacos for $2 each.

And they are good.

Fiddler’s Hearth

Yes, this is number eleven. But Fiddler’s Hearth is a true classic of downtown South Bend. Here, you can eat the Salmon of Knowledge for dinner and gain its wisdom for yourself! This family-friendly restaurant serves all manner of Irish pub fare, features live music, afternoon tea parties, and a self-playing pianola from 1955 that was willed to the family by a Notre Dame alumnus. Not everything on the menu is under $10, but be sure to ask about the 10% discount offered to students (and spouses!) with an ID. And don’t forget about their Sunday breakfast and brunch buffet. This is one South Bend establishment that you’ll want to visit before you graduate.

Arts and Culture: Art Museums

Art is as old as human culture. Making, or craft, is one of the characteristic human activities, and art is its highest form. It gives visible and tangible form to what is true about the world and the human condition. Art means something. It invites us into contemplation, into an encounter with what we may find praiseworthy and moving, entertaining and pleasing, or perhaps threatening and discomfiting. An encounter with a great work of art leaves no attentive viewer unchanged. In our time, a museum is often the primary setting in which this encounter takes place, though this was not always so. However that may be, here are three places in the vicinity of Notre Dame where you can take a few hours to enjoy this aspect of human craft and culture.

Snite Museum of Art

The Snite is Notre Dame’s own on-campus museum of fine art. Open every day of the week, the museum offers free admission to all comers. The collection is impressive, its particular strengths including a collection of Rembrandt etchings, 19th-century European artwork, Mesoamerican and Native American art, and traditional objects from modern African groups. This is only the beginning of the collection, however, which also comprises numerous sculptures, decorative artifacts, photographs, and pieces of modern art. The Snite also welcomes families and offers fun museum guide packs for children ages 4 and up. This is a great way to spend one of the (many) cloudy days to come this winter. Check the museum website for current exhibits and upcoming events.

South Bend Museum of Art

The SBMA is located in downtown South Bend, inside the Century Center on MLK Blvd. Admission is free, though a donation of a few dollars is recommended. The museum has a number of pieces from local, regional, and nationally-recognized artists, mainly from the 19th-century onward. The Museum also runs numerous classes and workshops for adults and for children of all ages, including painting, drawing, ceramics, and fiber arts, as well as drop-in drawing sessions and open studios. For graduate students interested in taking classes as a group, these are a great candidate for utilizing a Grad Life GO Grant!

Art Institute of Chicago

If you are taking a trip to Chicago, the city’s Art Institute is well worth visiting. With a massive collection of artwork and artifacts of all sorts and provenances, the Art Institute can easily fill up a visit of several hours—or several days! Children ages 13 and under get in for free and students are eligible for discounted tickets. If you are planning on visiting multiple museums in the city over the course of a few days, you might also consider purchasing a Chicago CityPASS, by far the most cost-effective way to see the main sights in Chicago. See my post over the summer on visiting Chicago for more details.