Auditorium Theatre Hosts Ensemble Español kick off of MADE IN CHICAGO DANCE SERIES – mix of traditional and contemporary Spanish dance

Photo courtesy of Ensemble Espanol
Photo courtesy of Ensemble Espanol

Auditorium Theatre Begins MADE IN CHICAGO DANCE SERIES

Honoring traditions of the past and presenting a fresh new take on Spanish dance, Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater opened the Made in Chicago Dance Series at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on Friday, Oct. 6. The evening featured both classical and contemporary Spanish dance giving the audience a glimpse into the world of Flamenco today.

The curtain rises to unveil a village backdrop. A cast of characters; a waiter holding a silver tray, a maid, a woman pushing a baby buggy, a little boy holding a red balloon, among other villagers greet each other warmly and soon begin to dance the chotis, a popular traditional Spanish dance in the 19th century. Madrileño, choreographed by Artistic Director Irma Suárez Ruiz, pays homage to Spain and the history of Spanish dance before the company charges forward to more contemporary works.

Sentimiento, a solo set to the music of Antonio Ray, changes the mood drastically. Dancer and choreographer Carlos Rodriguez moves with passion, intensity, and precision, keeping the audience on their toes throughout the entire dance. Fog and dramatic lighting flood the stage with tones of red, blue, purple, and orange. His solo expresses the passion and intensity of Spanish dance in a modern day setting.

Live musicians also bring the performance to life. Flamenco guitarist, David Chiriboga, Flamenco singer, Patricia Ortega, and Percussionist, Javier Saume-Mazzel, bring a new energy to the stage for a variety of pieces including Madrileño and Mi Deseo.

In a single spotlight, one woman stands silhouetted surrounded by a circle of men in dark costumes. As she begins to move the men start clapping, cheering her on as she moves effortlessly, full of spunk and energy. Artistic Director, Irma Suárez Ruiz is now on the stage performing Carlos Rodriguez’s Mi Deseo. She dances with exuberance, with a smile on her face the entire time. She reminds the audience of the lightheartedness and joy of dancing.

Defalla, Fuera de la Caja (Out of the Box), choreographed by Angel Rojas is the most contemporary and innovative piece of the evening. It begins with a collection of traditional Flamenco costumes flown in from the rafters. The dancers, dressed in street clothes, begin to meander onto the stage speaking to each other as if they are about to begin rehearsal. The dancers notice the costumes and as they begin to fly up again the dancers start to move, their personalities coming out through both facial expressions and body language. The curtains on the side of the stage also rise to expose stage equipment and crew members working in the wings. Defalla, Fuera de la Caja shows off the people behind the spectacle of the dance removing costumes, props, sets, and lighting from the equation, leaving only the dancers and their movement.

Photo courtesy of Ensemble Espanol

The evening continues with a variety of ensemble works featuring the entire company. The skilled dancers of Ensemble Español perform with confidence, passion, and precision, as they move together in unison, never missing a beat in their detailed footwork and sharp arm movements.

Ensemble Español closes with their signature and critically acclaimed piece Bolero choreographed in 1993 by founder Dame Libby Komaliko. Bolero begins with five women on the ground in fiery red dresses pooling around them, projections of Picasso paintings serving as the backdrop. They unfold themselves slowly as Maurice Ravel’s score builds. The full company joins in on the dance, including Ruiz and Executive Director, Jorge Pérez. The masterwork serves as an incredibly fun and exciting finale to an evening of exuberant dance.

Ensemble Español is in residence at Northeastern Illinois University. For a list of their upcoming performances visit the Ensemble Espanol website.

Photos and video courtesy of Ensemble Espanol.


Hayley Ross

About the Author:

Hayley Ross graduated from Ohio University in 2016 with degrees in Dance and Journalism. She currently works in the Marketing department at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago as the Communication Coordinator. Learn more about Hayley at

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