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The Independent

A Word from the Executive Director of Ensemble Español

Rut Ortiz

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“The mission of the Ensemble Español is the preservation, presentation and promotion of the three styles of the classical, folkloric, Flamenco and contemporary dance and music styles of Spain,” said Jorge Perez, Executive Director for the Ensemble Español, in a written interview with the Independent.

According to its website, www.ensembleespanol.org, Ensemble Español is a “center for Spanish dance & music in residence at Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago.”

On a local scale, concerts, classes and educational residencies can be found within our community, state and nation. On an international scale, Ensemble Español has impacted countries such as Mexico, China, Australia and Canada.

The focus of the Ensemble is to go to Spain in 2015.

The Ensemble Español takes the NEIU name to all of its distinguished programs throughout the city, state, nation and countries served.

“The arts have been an intricate part of our societies for centuries. Ensemble Español has integrated this art form in our NEIU curriculum and community for the last 38 years for all students of all cultures,” wrote Perez. “Ninety-nine percent of the Ensemble Español professional dancers [of diverse cultural backgrounds] have danced their way through college thanks to the endowment scholarships established via Spanish dance here at NEIU.”

Both NEIU and guests can turn to Josephine DiCesare, the Ensemble’s Manager of Operations, should they be interested in joining the Spanish dance company.

The American Spanish Dance & Music Festival brings with it a rich history.

As explained by Perez, “[Dame] Libby Komaiko, Founder and Artistic Director of the Ensemble Español and professor emerita of dance at NEIU, first walked onto our campus in 1974 presenting a concert with her mom, concert pianist, Dorothy Komaiko, to a sold out crowd of over 650 students, faculty and staff. NEIU invited her back to present master classes then as an artist in residence.”

Two years later, Ensemble Español was born with seven NEIU students. Today the professional adult company has 20 dancers.

Future goals look anything but bleak for the Ensemble and expansion is a themed goal.

Ensemble Español has many plans including its 40th anniversary in 2015-16. The anniversary will kick off with a premiere tour to Spain on the invitation of our university partner, Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid.

Regarding some goals of the Ensemble Español, Perez wrote: “Expand its local educational outreach programs and partnerships. Expanding our NEIU endowment scholarship program and Spanish dance program offering more classes and opportunities for credit and non-credit students. And last but certainly not least, expanding its current temporary facility in the J building to the remodeling and expansion of Building F.”
What began as one person presenting a concert with her mother gave birth to an entire entity of a culturally rich phenomenon: classical, folkloric and Flamenco dances from Spain.

According to Perez, “The rest is history.”

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