Chicago Theatre Review
Flamenco Passion, Ensemble Español’s Gala Concert
At the Skokie Center for the Performing Arts
Concluded American Spanish Dance and Music Festival
Ensemble Español Gala Concert “Flamenco Passion” was exhilarating finale to the American Spanish Dance and Music Festival
By Darcy Rose Coussens
If you missed the 35th Anniversary Gala Concert by Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater, founded and artistic directed by Dame Libby Komaiko, don’t make that mistake again next year. This vibrant collection of flamenco dances showcased the talented Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater Company Dancers, several impassioned musicians, and three brilliant guest artists from Spain. The program included letters from Mayor Emmanuel, Governor Quinn, and a few others in support of Ensemble Español. A letter from President Obama was also read aloud during the performance. Despite these recommendations, I had no idea how intense the performance would be.
The production incorporated projections of Picasso paintings and live musicians, three of whom are also from Spain. The dancers seemed part of the music through their rhythms, and so the live musicians were a terrific asset to these incredible dancers. This was a series of performances with flipping fans, swishing skirts, clicking castanets and very fast feet. Several dances were slow and expressive, such as that of Carmela Greco, which met tremendous applause and cheers. The show included a variety of dances that were mournful, seductive, sassy and fun. The intricate choreography was beautiful.
Whether you are a flamenco fanatic or a novice, this company will blow you away. With dramatic lighting and ornate costumes, the entire ensemble was extremely polished. Other guest artists from Spain included Paloma Gómez and Christian Lozano, and their performance together got the show off to a very exciting start. Later, Lozano stole the show with a spectacular solo (the ladies seated behind me immediately made plans to get him flowers). The many shouts of “ole” from the audience throughout the show were well-deserved. Make sure you catch Ensemble Español if ever possible– you won’t regret it!