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Chicago This Week: Fire Festival and Breakdancing to Bach

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The Chicago Bean is a hot dog 

Photo courtesy Chicago Foodseum

The Chicago Bean is a hot dog 

Here are the five hottest things to do in and around Chicago this week

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Chicago this week is hot, hot, hot. At least, we hope it will be: Last year's Chicago Fire Festival was a bit of a damp squib, though 2015 seems set to redeem itself and bring the heat with everything from breakdancers to a ceremonial house-burning. Speaking of hot... dogs, Kickstarter-funded Foodseum has found a temporary home from which to serve up a delectable exhibition on The Hot Dog and Encased Meat of the World. Do NOT go hungry. For a different sort of culture, The Chicago Theatre is hosting Red Bull Flying Bach, which marries classical music and yet more breakdancing. And if you need to escape the frenzy of fire and freestyle, head to Champagne-Urbana's Pygmalion Festival for music, literature, tech, and crafts. Actually, scratch that, there is no escape—this too is going to be smoking.

September 25–27 | Modern dance
Red Bull Flying Bach
The piano strains of Johann Sebastian Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier may not be the first piece of music you'd pair with a breakdancing troupe, but that's just what you'll see during the three performances of Red Bull Flying Bach at The Chicago Theatre. Part I of Bach's piece will be performed live in its 70-minute entirety—with the addition of a thumping beat—while dancers in the world-renowned German breakdancing troupe the Flying Steps pop, lock, and headspin.  
8 p.m. (4 p.m. Sun) | The Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St., Chicago | (312) 462-6300 | From $29.50 | website

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September 26 | Fire festival
Chicago Fire Festival
After the hoopla surrounding last year's inaugural Chicago Fire Festival, in which floats on the river failed to ignite, expectations are burning hot this year. Luckily, organizers are confident the technical difficulties of 2014 will not make a comeback. This year, the festival leaves the Chicago River for Northerly Island, and avant-garde performance troupe Redmoon Theater has a full roster of activities planned. From 5–7:30 p.m., shop for goods from local artisans at the Neighborhood Bazaar while watching performances spread over four stages—everything from breakdancers to the Chicago Civic Orchestra. Then it's the main event: a variety show–like spectacle that includes the Chicago Bulls Stampede Drumline and the Chicago Children's Choir, followed by fireworks and a ceremonial burning of a house decorated with notes from 50,000 Chicago youth. Let's hope there's plenty of lighter fluid. Note the event is capped at 10,000 people, so reserve a spot in advance.
5–9 p.m. | Northerly Island, 1521 S. Linn White Dr., Chicago | Free| website

Through December 20 | Food museum pop-up
Rumors of a Chicago museum dedicated to food have been swirling for years, but with Foodseum, it's finally becoming a reality—sort of. While the Kickstarter-funded museum continues to search for a permanent home, it has taken up temporary residence in Block 37 with a pop-up exhibit, The Hot Dog and Encased Meat of the World, which opened September 19. Visitors can learn about the 2.5-million-year-old history of encased meats, check out a replica of a 19th-century butcher shop (complete with Play Doh for making links), watch nostalgia-inducing hot dog advertisements from years past, and discover how easy it is to make their own encased meats at home. 
11 a.m.–7 p.m. (weekends till 6 p.m.) | 108 N. State St., 2nd fl., Chicago | Free | website

AFAR Local is published every Wednesday, so check back for insider updates on restaurant openings, festivals, exhibitions, shows, weekend escapes, and more. Planning a trip? The AFAR guide to Chicago has you covered.

Through March 6, 2015  | Art
MCA DNA: Rafael Ferrer
The Museum of Contemporary Art has nurtured a long relationship with Puerto Rico–born artist Rafael Ferrer, back to his 1972 MCA solo exhibition, Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire), and was one of the earliest supporters of his work. Recognizing that relationship, the artist's friends and collectors, Earl and Betsy Millard, donated many of the works you'll see at this exhibition, MCA DNA: Rafael Ferrer. One of the vanguards of the process-art movements of the late '60s, Ferrer's work evolved into more narrative works, such as Kayak #2: Norte (1972), a kayak made of corrugated steel, bone, hair, rawhide, string, knife, wood, and paint, which references the artist's voyages between Puerto Rico and the United States and is on display at the MCA. Other works you'll see include his powerful illustrations for Gabriel Garcia Marquez's classic novel 100 Years of Solitude
10 a.m.–5 p.m. Wed–Sun (till 8 p.m. Tue) | 220 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago | (312) 280-2660 | From $7 | website

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September 23–27 | Weekend escape
Pygmalion Festival
After a Chicago summer stuffed with music festivals, the idea of driving two hours to Champaign-Urbana (home of the University of Illinois) for yet another one might not be enticing. But music is just one part of this city-wide festival. There's a significant literature component, with tons of contemporary novel readings by new authors and a book fair on Saturday. Also on Saturday is Made, a large collection of pop-up shops selling artisanal goods. Finally, new this year is a four-day tech conference. Speakers such as the Smashing Pumpkins' Jimmy Chamberlain will talk about the impact of immediacy in music, and other notable tech experts, both local and national, will lead talks about how innovation impacts quality of life, the separation of advertising and editorial in media, and the science of brewing beer. All this is not to say the music isn't impressive, either: Purity Ring, Ride, and Run the Jewels are headliners.
Times and locations vary | From $25 | website

Laura Baginski is a Chicago-based writer and editor who specializes in travel and parenting. Because of the latter, the former doesn't happen as much as she'd like.