Ensemble Espanol Spanish Dance Theater | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Ensemble Espanol Spanish Dance Theater 

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Because variety is the hallmark of Spanish dance, Ensemble Espanol really gets a workout at the performances that close the company's annual American Spanish Dance Festival. The first half of the program this year features Spanish classical, neoclassical, and folk dance while the second focuses on flamenco. During a rehearsal, the dancers went from artistic director Dame Libby Komaiko's neoclassical Tiempos de Goya, in which line and placement are crucial, to Paco Alonso's Alma de Aragon, celebrating the jota, a boisterous folk dance accompanied by castanets and marked by legs flying out in seemingly impossible orbit around the dancer. Komaiko's Aires de Cadiz, featuring the flamenco form caracoles, proved a challenge when visiting musicians played the music in an unfamiliar way. Through it all the dancers were vigorous and expressive. The guest artists choreographing new works this year are Timo Lozano, the National Ballet of Spain's Paloma Gomez and Christian Lozano, and Carmela Greco, daughter of Jose. Her masterful solo performance a year ago was mesmerizing, and for this show she's creating both a new solo for herself and an ensemble finale. a Thu-Sat 6/21-6/23, 7:30 PM, Sun 6/24, 3 PM, Northeastern Illinois University, auditorium, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr, 773-442-4636, $35 Thu for a one-hour preview, $45 for the weekend shows.

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