Ensemble Español

Ensemble Español embraces “New Era, New Works, New Legacies” in 45th “Zafiro Flamenco” season:



New Partnership with CPS, Muntu Dance, Virtual Workshops with International Artists And Virtual Concert Performances Featured August – December 2020

$1 Million Financial Fundraising Match Award Opportunity for Ensemble Español



CHICAGOEnsemble Español Spanish Dance Theatre in residence at Northeastern Illinois University, marks its 45th Season August 2020-July 2021. The season titled “Zafiro Flamenco (Sapphire Flamenco): New Era, New Works, New Legacies” will feature new partnerships, new works, virtual programs plus a new $300,000 anonymous matching grant opportunity with a total potential earnings of 1 million dollars.

Cesar Chavez once wrote, “when people come together who believe in something very strongly – things happen”. For the past 45 years many challenging yet wonderful things have happened for Ensemble Español. The strong commitment and dedication of performing artists, dancers, staff, students, musicians, international guest artists, the University community and the three sectors of our society came together on something they believe in and will continue to come together for the next 45 years, ‘“one dance step at a time”, says Santos Rivera, Ph.D., Ensemble Español Board of Directors Interim Chair.

“Sheltering in place has brought out new creativeness and collaborative spirit from our dancers and staff. It’s like we are warriors fighting with added passion for established projects and inspiration for new projects as we fight to stand strong and build bridges of understanding during these uncertain times” says Ensemble Español Artistic Director Irma Suárez Ruiz.

Ensemble Español’s 45 Season features new monumental collaboration between Chicago Public Schools and Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) where they will be offering dual enrollment Spanish Dance classes for the Honors program and creating a global curriculum for all CPS schools to follow to offer Spanish Dance.

Ensemble Español has also created an exciting new educational program, the United Rhythms Youth Fusion Project. For this program, Ensemble Español, Eafon & Muntu African Dance Company are collaborating on a Flamenco dance cross cultural exchange showcasing the similarities of the Spanish Flamenco culture and the percussive styles of African and African American dance. Current community partners include Segundo Ruiz Belvis Arts Cultural Center serving the Humboldt Park, Hermosa and Belmont Cragin neighborhoods. Gary Comer Center serving Chatham, Roseland and Auburn Gresham. And CXO Metroplex serving Woodlawn, Hyde Park and South Shore communities.

An upcoming event with Home Depot to build a set of platforms that will allow company and youth company dancers at Ensemble Español to dance outside at areas located around Chicago during the pandemic inspiring hope around the city.

Ensemble Español is also teaming up with renowned guest artists from Spain and the U.S. for the “Flamenco en Vivo / Live Flamenco Virtual Dance & Music Community Series” Oct. 3, 10, 17 and 24 and Nov. 7 and 14 and Dec. 5. Featured artists will include La Lupi winner of the 2007 National Flamenco Competition, with Flamenco guitarist Curro de María; Carmela Greco, daughter of the legendary Spanish dancer José Greco; international flamenco artist Omayra Amaya, grandniece of the legendary Carmen Amaya; Edwin Aparicio, recipient of the Cross of the Order of Civil Merit, granted by the King Felipe VI of Spain; Grammy-winner Nino de Los Reyes and Paloma Gómez, former principal of the National Ballet of Spain.



Ensemble Español’s virtual performance events through December include:

Featuring world renowned dancers and musicians from Chicago’s Ensemble Espanol accompanied by flamenco musicians David Chiriboga on guitar and Patricia Ortega on vocals. For venue and date information or to book the Ensemble contact Jorge Perez at (773) 442-5904 or via email at Jorge@EnsembleEspanol.org Check our upcoming events HERE

Ensemble Español was featured in a video encore Founder Dame Libby Komaiko’s masterpiece, “Bolero” in this year’s online edition of the popular annual gala in support of The Dancers’ Fund


These free hour-long presentations show how Spanish dance is influenced by the ancient Celtic peoples, Moorish sensibilities, and the lives and passions of the Gitanos. Students, parents and teachers receive an in-depth survey of Spain’s special place in dance art forms. More information.


featuring Ensemble Español Company dancers, guest artist and members of Ensemble Español’s Youth Company. Performance highlights from Ensemble Español’s popular annual holiday program will be showcased for the first time in a virtual program. More information


Company dancers, choreographers, costume and lighting designers share insights into Ensemble Español’s most popular critically acclaimed works: Ron de Jesus’ “Mil Clavos,” Carlos Rodríguez’s “DeFalla, Out of the Box” and “Mar de Fuego,” “Amor Brujo,” Dame Libby Komaiko’s “Bolero,” Artistic Director Irma Suárez Ruiz’s choreographies and more.


The program will include the world premieres of “Entre dos Aguas” (Between Two Waters) in the Flamenco Alegrías style by the late guest artist from Cordoba, José Barrios and “El Casorio” (The Wedding ) with choreography and costume design by Irma Suarez Ruiz, artistic director.

These performances are part of the American Spanish Dance & Music Festival (June 18-26)



“We are grateful and fortunate to have a new board of directors and committee ambassador members on this special 45th anniversary season from educators, dance professionals, advertising and branding executives from the City of Chicago, Microsoft, Hyatt, Goldman Sachs, to Grant Thornton and more. They are helping us move forward with a 5-year strategic plan that will lead us into our 50th anniversary, new fundraising initiatives and governance to see us through the challenges of COVID-19”, said Executive & Associate Artistic Director, Jorge Pérez.

To date the company has raised more than $190,000 during the COVID-19 pandemic and recently, Ensemble Español received a $300,000 matching grant opportunity from an anonymous donor. Funds will go to support the company’s outreach programs, dancers, teachers and staff. To receive the full economic impact of the matching grant, Ensemble Español has been charged in raising $300,000 over the next two years. To facilitate this, Ensemble Español just initiated a new fundraising campaign, “$45 for 45th Funding Our Future” Match Campaign which continues through July 2022 for a 1 million dollar financial support opportunity.

“Northeastern Illinois University is proud and honored to have had Ensemble Español in residence for 45 years and counting! This vibrant partnership is rooted in shared values, including integrity, excellence, access to opportunity, diversity, community and empowerment through education. Over the years, our partnership has blossomed into extraordinary collaborations and both national and international accolades. As Northeastern does for our students each and every day, the Ensemble opens an exciting window to the world and each of us is invited to join them. We celebrate and are most appreciative of the anonymous match donation for their tremendous support of Ensemble Español and Northeastern Illinois University” says Gloria J. Gibson, President, NEIU.



Ensemble Español, is a not-for-profit arts organization. As with many artists and arts organizations around the world, the impact of the COVID-19 virus is creating a significant financial challenge for the company. Ensemble Español welcomes donations to help sustain the company during this time.


Ensemble Español, founded in 1976 by artistic director Dame Libby Komaiko, is the premiere Spanish dance company and center in the U.S. with a professional and unique residency at Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago. Under the artistic direction of Irma Suárez Ruiz and executive leadership of Jorge Perez, company successors, the Ensemble continues its mission of preservation, presentation and promotion of Spanish dance and culture which also includes the exploration of the country’s history in the; Flamenco, Folkloric, Classical and Escuela Bolera styles and identifies its influence on Latin American art and dance in both traditional and contemporary formats.

They forge ahead as the leaders in Spanish dance and culture with a commitment to our communities, via performances, education, school residencies, academic university programs, festivals and tours. They remain committed to their roots in education and mission of educational, artistic, and social development. Their incredible rich history includes; serving over 30,000 students annually, training over 90 company dancers, training over 160 Youth Company dancers from ages 12 to 18, over 90 international guest artists and musicians from Spain and the Americas, over 2,600 scholarships awarded to talented aspiring dancers, musicians and educators, tours and residencies of U.S., including Hawaii, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Poland, Australia, Canada, China and Spain.

Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theatre in residence at Northeastern Illinois University is grateful to the following 45th Season Partners and Sponsors: Northeastern Illinois University, Prince Charitable Foundation and the MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince, Illinois Arts Council, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, After School Matters, Microsoft, Helen Brach Foundation, Wintrust, Enterprise, Eugene Jarvis and Sasha Gerritson, Sonia Florian, Gameplan Creative, FourStar Branding. Additional thanks to the 45th Season Media Sponsors: La Raza, Negocios Now, Comcast, Hispanic Pro, Spanish Public Radio, HMS Media.

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

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