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Ensemble Español: ‘Concierto Navideño’

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Ensemble Español will perform “Concierto Navideño” on Dec. 16 and 17 in the auditorium.

Ensemble Español will perform “Concierto Navideño” on Dec. 16 and 17 in the auditorium.

Courtesy of Dean Paul

Courtesy of Dean Paul

Ensemble Español will perform “Concierto Navideño” on Dec. 16 and 17 in the auditorium.

Emilie Messavussu, Writer

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Ensemble Español will give students, staff, families and friends of NEIU a taste of fun and festivities as they hold two holiday performances of “Concierto Navideño” on Dec. 16 and 17 at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium on the main campus.

There will be performances of three styles of Spanish dance: classical, folklore, and traditional/ contemporary flamenco. Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Youth Company and Ensemble Español will share the stage and perform together for the annual holiday concert.

“The company has a national and international touring program,” said Jorge Perez, the executive director of Ensemble Español. “We have been to Poland, we have been to China twice, we’ve been to Puerto Rico, Mexico and we just returned from our premiere tour this summer in Spain.”

The Ensemble Español spanish dance team was founded in 1976 by Dame Libby Komaiko. She came to NEIU in 1974 with her mom, a concert pianist, and presented a Spanish dance concert. They had just finished touring with Jose Greco, a very famous Spanish dancer, so the concert was sold out.

“It had such a great response that they asked her if she would give some classes,” Perez said. “She then began teaching workshops and they asked her, ‘Could you be an artist in residence here?’ She said yes and then she began the Ensemble with seven NEIU students in 1976, forming it into a non-profit organization.”

Now, 41 years later, the company has 40 dancers.

“We have the professional adult company, and then the youth company which is comprised of dancers from grade school levels,” Perez said.

The professional dance company has part-time and full-time salaried dancers, who teach Spanish dance to the community.

Also, Ensemble Español has a one-hour Spanish dance concert program for children, called “Tales of Spain.” The dancers have taught Spanish dance all over the world through Ensemble Español.

Perez said, “We have principal dancers that have gone to Canada to teach as well as Australia… Costa Rica and Hawaii.”

About 80 percent of the members came through NEIU. The rest were transfer students from local colleges and universities, who wanted to study further with Ensemble Español.

“There are three scholarship endowments that Northeastern established,” Perez said. “So our dancers have an opportunity to ‘dance their way through college’ as we call it, to help support other tuition fees here at Northeastern.”

Perez has been a part of Ensemble Español for 33 years. He was brought on by Dame Libby Komaiko.

“I love this art form and I think because we have a home in Northeastern, the educational component goes hand in hand,” Perez said.

Ensemble Español performs year-round. Tickets for “Concierto Navideño” range from $20-$30. NEIU students, faculty, staff and children under 12 are $15.

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