Ensemble Español

Ensemble Español Heats Up The North Shore Center For The Performing Arts in Skokie

Three World Premieres by Madrid’s Angel Rojas and Carlos Rodriguez

Featured in Exciting Program Celebrating the Company’s Past, Present and Future

CHICAGO – Ensemble Español’s popular live dance and music performances return to the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd, with “Raices – Yesterday is Tomorrow,” June 16-18. These performances are part of the company’s 2017 American Spanish Dance & Music Festival, June 7-24. The Festival, now in its 41st year, features performances, concerts, classes, seminars and lectures showcasing the elegance and passion of Spain’s dance, music and culture.

The “Raices” performances, a successor to the popular annual “Flamenco Passion” performances, will feature more than 40 dancers, musicians including guest artists in a fusion of classical, folklore, traditional, contemporary and Flamenco styles. A highlight of the this year’s program will be the work of Angel Rojas and Carlos Rodriguez, artistic directors of Nuevo Ballet Madrid, whose premiere of “Iroko” last year was an audience favorite that also garnered critical acclaim. Between Rojas and Rodriguez, they bring three world premieres to this year’s program: Rojas’ “Defalla, Fuera de la Caja,” performed by the Company; and Rodriquez’s “Redobles” and “Euforia,” performed by the Company and Rodriguez respectively.

The exciting program will also include popular works from Ensemble Español’s repertoire including
Paco Alonso’s “Madrileno” (1989); “Reina Gitana” (2015) choreographed by Ensemble Español First Dancer Claudia Pizarro; “La Liebre” (2015) choreographed by Ensemble Español First Dancer Jose Torres; “Rendicion,” choreographed by Ensemble Español Artistic Director Irma Suarez Ruiz; and “Zapateado” (1976) and “Danza del Fuego” (1979), choreographed by Company Founder Dame Libby Komaiko.

On Sunday, June 18 only, Carmela Greco, a traditional audience favorite and daughter of Flamenco legend Jose Greco, will perform her work “Cordoba” (2012). Other guest artists participating in the “Raices” performances include musicians David Chiriboga (guitar), Paco Fonta (guitar/vocals), Luis Galvez (tenor) Erica Rose Sauder (soprano), Patricia Ortega (vocalist) Javier Saume-Mazzei (percussion).

“In our 41st year Ensemble Español’ is in the advantageous position of having a wealth of established works in our repertoire to draw from, and a bounty of sources from within our company and the global dance community to draw on for new works. We owe our thanks to our loyal patrons, dancers, staff, board, parents and advisory committees and our home, Northeastern Illinois University, for helping us get to this grand position. But most of all, we are thankful to our Founder, Dame Libby for creating the Company. We see the “Raices” performances as a reflection of her vision then, now and for the years to come,” says Artistic Director Suárez Ruiz.

Works scheduled to be performed in the June 16-18 “Raices” performances will include:

Act 1

  • “Madrileño” (From Madrid) (1989), choreographed by Paco Alonso, with two premiere scenes created for the ballet by Ensemble Español Artistic Director Irma Suárez Ruiz. Performed to live music by guest singers: NEIU Musical Theater and Opera director Sasha Gerritson (soprano) and Chicago’s Luis Galvez (tenor); performed by the Company and Ensemble Español’s Spanish Dance Youth Company Grade Division. In Madrid, the chotis, chotís or schotís is considered the most typical dance of the city since the 19th century, and it is danced at all the traditional festivals. It is a kind of slower polka, with continental-European origin and was popular in Victorian era ballrooms as a part of the Bohemian folk-dance craze that left its traces in folk music of countries such as Argentina, Finland, France, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Brazil, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Mexico and the United States, among other nations.
  • “Euforia” (Euphoria) World Premiere, choreographed and performed by Guest Artist Carlos Rodriguez to music by Spanish virtuoso flamenco guitarist, composer and producer Paco de Lucía.
  • “Danza del Fuego” (Dance of Fire) (1979), choreographed by Dame Libby Komaiko to music by Pablo Luna (1879-1942); performed by the Company. “Danza del Fuego” is from the La Zarzuela (Spain’s light opera) “Ben Amor.” This romantic 20th century neo-classical dance combines two styles, Ballet Español and Flamenco. It portrays the mysterious moods and great eastern influence of the Moors in Spain during their 900 year rule.
  • “Reina Gitana” (Gypsy Queen )(2015), choreographed and performed by Ensemble Español First Dancer Claudia Pizarro to music by Rosario Montoya and Javier Saume-Mazzei. “Reina Gitana” is a work in the Danza Española style combining the sentiments of the Flamenco gypsy with classical technique accompanied by the rich rhythms of the castanets. Dedicated to her mother, Pizarro portrays the different stages that women encounter throughout a lifetime.
  • “La Liebre” (The Hare) (2015), choreographed by Esemble Español First Dancer Jose Torres to “La Liebre” by Las Corraleras de Lebrija; performed by Ensemble Español’s Spanish dance Youth Company, Senior Division. Sevillanas are a type of folk music and dance from the province of Seville. They were derived from the Seguidilla, an old Castilian folk music and dance genre and in the 19th century were influenced by Flamenco. Rich in lyrics based on country life, towns, pilgrimage, and love themes, Sevillanas can be heard mainly in fairs and festivals, including the famous La Feria de Abril. (Seville Fair) which dates back to 1847.
  • “Mi Deseo” (My Desire) (2016), choreographed by Guest Artist Carlos Rodriquez; performed by Ensemble Español Artistic Director Suárez Ruiz. This work premiered in Ensemble Español’s fall performance, part of last year’s Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University’s “Made in Chicago” Dance Series.
  • “Defalla, Fuera de la Caja” (Defalla, Out of the Box) World Premiere choreographed by Guest Artist Angel Rojas to music of La Vida Breve by Manuel de Falla (1876 – 1946) from the Spanish classic suite “El Sombrero de Tres Pico” (The Three-Cornered Hat or Le tricorne); performed by the Company. This music and ballet, originally choreographed by Russian choreographer Léonide Massine, was commissioned by Sergei Diaghilev, founder of the Ballet Russes and premiered in London at the Alhambra Theatre on July 22, 1919 with sets and costumes created by Pablo Picasso. The work was revived in 1934 by Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. For Ensemble Español’s creation, Rojas, sheds the image of the Spanish dancer, sets, props, lighting and costumes to unveil the soul of the dancer. Says Rojas, “I wished to explore the belief that there are times when the artist and the audience must meet on equal terms, share the same space, and approach each other with less formality.”


Act II

  • “Rendicion” (Surrender) (2013) choreographed by Ensemble Español Artistic Director Suárez Ruiz to music by David Peña Dorante; performed by the Company. Rendición is a Flamenco contemporary drama depicting the yearnings, passions, and need for surrender in everlasting love.
  • “Pasión Flamenca” (Flamenco Musical Interlude) performed by Guest Flamenco musicians: Paco Fonta (guitarist and singer), David Chiriboga ( guitarist), Patricia Ortega (singer) and Javier Saume-Mazzie (percussionist).
  • “Zapateado” (1976) choreographed by Ensemble Español Founder Dame Libby Komaiko on her very first company of sevem dancers (today 15 dancers will perform “Zapateado”) to live music performed by Guest Flamenco musicians Paco Fonta (guitarist and singer), David Chiriboga (guitarist), Patricia Ortega (singer) and Javier Saume-Mazzie (percussionist); performed by the Company. This rhythmic portrayal of the herders, herding the bulls to the fields on horseback was originally choreographed by Komaiko as a duet in 1976 but has since become a work performed by the whole company.
  • “Redobles” (Bulerias), World Premiere choreographed by Guest Artist Carlos Rodriquez to live music by Guest Flamenco musicians Paco Fonta (guitarist and singer), David Chiriboga ( guitarist), Patricia Ortega (singer) and Javier Saume-Mazzie (percussionist); performed by the Company. This choreography is inspired by folkloric roots of this popular Flamenco palo (style) Bulerias, a style born over two centuries ago that has continued to evolve. Today the bulerias is perceived as not only as an improvisational art form, for which it is known, but also as a company / group choreographic structured work. In this work, Ensemble Español will demonstrate the versatility and originality of this style in its original rhythmical and theatrical form from the Andalucian province.
  • Friday, June 16 and Saturday, June 17 only: “Luna Metalica” (Metallic Moon) (2014), choreographed and performed by Guest Artist Carlos Rodriguez to music composed by Hector Gonzalez. This contemporary Flamenco work is part of the Rojas and Rodriquez’s “Titanium” show, currently touring throughout Europe.
  • Sunday, June 18 performance only: “Córdoba” (2012), choreographed and performed by Guest Artist Carmela Greco. “Cordoba” and “Asturias” (Leyenda), by Isaac Albéniz from the Suite “Española, Op 47,” are considered two of the most important musical pieces of the Spanish classic collections. In this dance Greco expresses all of the Spanish elements found in the classical traditions and dedicates this dance to her mother, Spanish dancer, Lola de Ronda.
  • “Iroko” (2016), choreographed by Guest Artists Angel Rojas and Carlos Rodriguez to original music by Manuel Parrilla. Rodriguez joins the Ensemble Español company dancers for this Flamenco contemporary ballet, commissioned to honor Ensemble Español’s 40th Anniversary year. “Iroko” is funded in part by The Chicago Community Trust, John T. and Catherine D. MacArthur Foundation’s prestigious International Connections Fund and Northeastern Illinois University.

Ensemble Español’s “Raices” performances are part of 41st Annual American Spanish Dance & Music Festival (June 7-24), including the free “Duende Flamenco” performance at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N Lincoln Ave, (June 7, 8:30 p.m.), “Raices” performances at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie (June 16-18), and Spanish and Flamenco dance and music workshops and classes at the company’s dance studios Ensemble Español’s company’s dance studios, Building J, at Northeastern Illinois University N. 5500 St Louis Ave, Chicago (June 19-24; schedule varies). For more information visit EnsembleEspanol.org.



Ensemble Español’s presents three “Raices” live dance and music performances at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Friday, June 16 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday June 17 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, June 18 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $30-$50. Free parking is available. For tickets, call 847.673.6300 or visit northshorecenter.org/raices/


Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater and Center

Under the artistic and executive leadership of Founder Dame Libby Komaiko, Artistic Director, Irma Suárez Ruiz and Executive Director, Jorge Perez, Ensemble Español is internationally recognized as the premier Center for Spanish Dance, Music and Culture in America. Its 40 sensational dancers, singers, instrumentalists with international guest artists, promotes Spanish dance culture in all its forms – from Flamenco to traditional folkloric to classical renaissance to the 21st century.

In 1982, Dame Libby became the first American artist in history to be decorated with Spain’s highest honor “Lazo de Dama” (Ribbon of the Dame) by his Majesty Don Juan Carlos I, King of Spain for her artistic, cultural and educational work throughout the United States. In 2011, United States President, Barack Obama, congratulated the Ensemble Español for their work in presenting this art form to the many communities served locally, nationally and internationally. The Ensemble Español has been in residence at Northeastern Illinois University since 1976.

Throughout the company’s 41 year history, Ensemble Español has changed lives through their education and outreach efforts. To date it has awarded more than 2,600 scholarships, trained more than 160 youth dancers and 90 youth apprentices to become professionals in the arts world. This past season Ensemble reached over 31,000 students. This past August the company made its international debut in the country of Spain with inaugural artistic/cultural educational tour to Madrid and Fuenlabrada with master classes at the Antonio Gades Foundation. Highlights of the company’s 2017-2018 season include performing in the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University’s acclaimed “Made in Chicago” series (Oct. 6) and the ever popular Dance for Life annual benefit dance concert presenting and showcasing the city’s unique diversity of talent, dance traditions and styles (Aug. 19).
For more information about Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater and Center visit EnsembleEspanol.org.

Festival Sponsors: Northeastern Illinois University, Wintrust Banks, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, Illinois Arts Council, Caerus Foundation Inc., The Prince Charitable Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, N.I.B. Foundation, Southwest Airlines, José Greco Foundation, Ministerio de Educacion, Cultura y Deporte, FICYT, Argo

Media Sponsors: Univision Chicago, Comcast, La Raza, Spanish Public Radio, Hispanic Pro, Negocios Now.

Festival Collaborators: Instituto Cervantes, Old Town School of Folk Music, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, International Latino Cultural Center, Chicago Dance Supply, Chicago Tourist Office of Spain, Studio Mangiameli, Flamenco Arts Center, Clinard Dance Theater, Flamenco Chicago LLC.


Ensemble Español’s the 41th International American Spanish Dance & Music Festival June 7-24

Listing of Events
The elegance and passion of Spain’s dance, music and culture is showcased in the 41th American Spanish Dance & Music Festival, Wednesday, June 7 through Sunday, June 24. The Chicago Sun-Times hails this celebration of Spanish culture as “a date worth keeping every summer.” For Festival updates visit EnsembleEspanol.org.

Festival events are as follows:
Wednesday, June 7, 2017 @ 8:30 p.m.
Duende Flamenco Music & Dance Concert
The Old Town School of Folk Music
4544 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago
Tickets: FREE
Call 773.728.6000 or visit oldtownschool.org

Friday, June 16 and Saturday, June 17 at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, June 18 at 3 p.m.
“Raices – Yesterday is Tomorrow” Performances
North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie
9501 Skokie, Blvd., Skokie, Ill.
Tickets: $30-$50. Free parking is available.
Call 847.673.6300 or visit northshorecenter.org/raices/

Monday, June 19- Saturday, June 24
Spanish Dance Classes and Flamenco Master Workshops
Northeastern Illinois University Dance Studios, Building J.
5500 N. St. Louis Dr., Chicago.
Single class: $30. Packages available. For registration/more information: contact Festival Coordinator Joséphine DiCesare at 773.442.5916 or via email at G-Dicesare@neiu.edu.
Instructors include Irma Suarez Ruiz, Carmela Greco, Carlos Rodriguez, and Omayra Amaya,
daughter of Flamenco dancers Olga and Curro Amaya and grandniece to the greatest Flamenco dancer who ever lived, Carmen Amaya. This is Ms. Amaya’s premiere Festival faculty residency. Classes include Flamenco, Classical and Regional/Folk. Day and evening classes available.

Artists and events subject to change.

Learn More

5500 N. St. Louis Ave Chicago, IL 60625. (773) 442.5901