Solar, nuclear, geothermal, hydrogen fuel cell, wind turbine….
Shouldn’t we add flamenco dancing to this list of the world’s power sources?
This is energy in brilliantly colored costume. Male or female, bodies fly as their arched torsos hold steady until microsecond flips of the switch when they change arm, head and leg positions. They periodically twirl their hands as they hold arms above their heads, as though funneling even more power from unseen energy wells above. One dancer, the artistic director, Irma Suárez Ruiz, flips the long-ruffled tail of her vermillion gown like a whip. Ensemble or solo, these are moves that telegraph power. Towards the end of the evening, there is a brief moment when the lighting changes to show the ensemble as a silhouette snapshot, making us realize that, in the back of our minds, this is how we have seen them all along.
Not a total neophyte but a relative newcomer to the genre, this writer felt the Ensemble Español program aimed to condense every aspect of flamenco and traditional Spanish dancing into one night’s performance. Throughout the audience were many who seemed steeped in the music/dance genre of flamenco. Their OOHs and AHs were guiding relative newbies to see and hear the performance the way they do.
This is not just a dance experience, but equally a musical one. The rhythmic dancing, often embellished with castanets, are percussionist add-ons to guitars, vocals, and other percussive instruments that fill the hall of the grand Auditorium Theatre with the rich sounds of traditional Spanish or Spanish inspired melodies, croons, and cadence.
How delightful to see a traditional two-necked Spanish guitar in a conversation with castanets! How astonishing to hear a similarity to a muezzin’s call to prayer in the solo vocalist at times, reminding of the Moorish touch on Spain’s architectural treasures! And mostly, how engaging both visually and musically, seeming to reach to the bottom of our souls.
It’s perhaps a tad too long a program, in this writer’s view. That said, the best is saved for last. It’s Bolero, a signature work Ensemble Español has performed worldwide and also in an earlier Dance for Life performance. Not only does the choreography amplify the momentum in Ravel’s score, but the parade of Picasso images that is the projected backdrop is mesmerizing.
Auditorium Theatre Resumes Its Yearly Tradition
Ensemble Español’s yearly performance at Auditorium Theatre is worth noting for everyone interested in rhythmic dance and movement expression. A passport to Spain and its rich cultural traditions, this is especially a top pick for those with travel lust for other cultures.
Ensemble Español is in residence at Northeastern Illinois University. For a list of their upcoming performances visit the Ensemble Espanol website.
Visit the Auditorium Theatre website for information on upcoming dance performances and more.
Note: Picture This Post reviews are excerpted by Theatre in Chicago.
Photos by Dean Paul unless otherwise noted
About the Author: Amy Munice
Amy Munice is Editor-in-Chief and Co-Publisher of Picture This Post. She covers books, dance, film, theater, music, museums and travel. Prior to founding Picture This Post, Amy was a freelance writer and global PR specialist for decades—writing and ghostwriting thousands of articles and promotional communications on a wide range of technical and not-so-technical topics.
Amy hopes the magazine’s click-a-picture-to-read-a-vivid-account format will nourish those ever hunting for under-discovered cultural treasures. She especially loves writing articles about travel finds, showcasing works by cultural warriors of a progressive bent, and shining a light on bold, creative strokes by fledgling artists in all genres.