Ensemble Espanol Wraps up 40th Anniversary with Flamenco Passion Performances at the North Shore Center in Skokie

Ensemble Espanol Wraps up 40th Anniversary with Flamenco Passion Performances at the North Shore Center in Skokie
Yareah Magazine

Ensemble Español’s popular Flamenco Passion live dance and music performances return to the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd, June 17-19. These performances are part of the company’s 2016 American Spanish Dance & Music Festival, June 8-25. This annual event, now in its 40th year, features concerts, classes, seminars and lectures showcasing the elegance and passion of Spain’s dance, music and culture.

Ensemble Español Spanish Dance & Music Theater

Ensemble Español Spanish Dance & Music Theater

** 40th Anniversary Celebration Culminates with World Premiere by Internationally Acclaimed Choreographers Angel Rojas and Carlos Rodriguez, and Dame Libby Komaiko’s Iconic “Bolero.”

This year’s “Flamenco Passion” performances feature more than 40 dancers, musicians and guest artists in a fusion of classical, traditional, contemporary and Flamenco styles. A highlight of the performances will be the world premiere of “Iroko,” created by Angel Rojas and Carlos Rodriguez, internationally acclaimed choreographers and dancers and Artistic Directors of Madrid’s Nuevo Ballet Espanol. “Iroko” is the name of an African tree that produces a hard brown wood often used in place of teak, and so is the perfect title for this work created to celebrate the roots and branches of Spanish dance and its relationship to the continents of Europe, Africa and the Americas.   Rojas and Rodriguez will join the Ensemble Español company dancers in this new Flamenco contemporary ballet created to original music composed by Juan Parrilla.

The eclectic program will also include popular works from Ensemble Español’s repertoire including Paloma Gomez’s “La Boda de Luis Alonso” (2012), Ensemble Español Artistic Director Irma Suarez Ruiz’s “El Baile de Luis Alonso” (2010), Paco Alonso’s “Alma De Aragon” (1990), Juan Mata and Ana Gonzalez’s “Alegrias y Jaleos” (2006), and Ensemble Español Founder Dame Libby Komaiko’s iconic masterwork, “Bolero” (1993). Also featured: contributions by an international roster of guest artists including José Barrios (Cordoba), principal dancer of the Maria Pages Company; Carmela Greco (Madrid), daughter of the legendary José Greco; Flamenco guitarist Antonio Gabarri Jiménez (Madrid); Flamenco singer and guitarist Paco Fonta (Miami); Flamenco guitarist David Chiriboga (Ecuador); Flamenco singer, Manuel Palacin (Madrid) and Venezuelan-born percussionist, Javier Saume Mazzei.

“We’re so excited to present this extraordinary mix of artists and new and classic works for this landmark year” saysKomaiko. “The combination could not be more perfect to celebrate the completion of our 40th Anniversary year and herald the beginning of an exciting new decade for the company.”

Works scheduled to be performed in the June 17-19 “Flamenco Passion” performances are as follows:

“La Boda de Luis Alonso (The Wedding of Luis Alonso)” (2012), choreographed by  Paloma Gómez.  This work, performed by the Ensemble Español’s company dancers, was choreographed to the first of a trio of compositions inspired by a text written by Javier de Burgos.

“El Baile de Luis Alonso (The Dance of Luis Alonso)” (2010) choreographed by Ensemble Español Artistic Director Irma Suarez Ruiz. This work, choreographed to the third of a trio of compositions inspired by a written text by Javier de Burgos, is performed by the Ensemble Español company dancers.

“Alegrias y Jaleos,”(2006), choreographed by Juan Mata and Ana Gonzalez, former first dancers and founding members of the National Ballet of Spain for the Company for Ensemble Español’s 30th Anniversary. This work reflects the joy and happiness of Flamenco’s important and popular song forms from the southwestern sea coast province of Cadiz  Alegrias and incorporates one of the oldest gypsy dances. It is dedicated to legendary master teacher, choreographer dancer and Director of Centro Andaluz de Danza, José Granero (1936-2006).

“Algazara” ( 2013), choreographed by José Barrios, principal dancer of the Maria Pages Company. Guest dancers, musicians and the Ensemble Español’s Company and Youth Company dancers are featured in this festive work that begins with the dramatic sounds of the cajon (percussive instrument) and incorporates the Buleria Flamenco style featuring a twelve count rhythm.

“Iroko” (World Premiere), choreographed by Angel Rojas and Carlos Rodriguez, original music by Juan Parilla. Rojas and Rodriguez join 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.

“Cinco Tiempos Para Amar (Five Times to Love)” (2010) choreographed and performed by Carmela Greco, daughter of the legendary José Greco, to music by guest Flamenco guitarist, Antonio Gabarri Jimenez.  This Flamenco solo is set to the music and lyrics of the Martinete & Siguiriya, in the Cante Jondo (deep song) style, the saddest and most dramatic songs of Flamenco, with musical arrangement and composition by Jimenez.

“Bolero” (1993) choreographed by Ensemble Español Founder Dame Libby Komaiko performed to music by Maurice Ravel (1875-1937). Since its creation, Komaiko’s “Bolero” has been seen by more than one million people on stages around the country and internationally, and featured in two documentaries. The “Flamenco Passion” 2016 performances of “Bolero” are made possible in part by the Cherry Family Foundation.
Selections/artists subject to change.

Tickets:  Ensemble Español’s popular “Flamenco Passion” live dance and music performances return to North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Friday, June 17 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday June 18 at 7:30 p.m. andSunday, June 19 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $46-$26.  Free parking is available. For tickets, call 847.673.6300 or

Flamenco. 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 40 year history, Ensemble Español has changed lives through their education and outreach efforts. To date it has has awarded more than 2,600 scholarships, trained  more than 160 youth dancers and 90 youth apprentices to become professionals in the arts world, and this August, will conduct its inaugural artistic/cultural educational tour to Spain.

For more information about Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater and Center visit

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