Global Rhythms Chicago starts tomorrow

Hello Urbanites!

How have you been? I am back after a long absence from this blog. I hope you had a fabulous Thanksgiving Day. And in the spirit of this holiday, I want to invite you attend an event that benefits the local artistic community  and other charitable organizations in Chicago. The Chicago Human Rhythms Project is presenting Global Rhythms, a concert series dedicated to American tap and contemporary percussive arts companies. Just by attending Global Rhythms – November 26 & 27 – you, your friends and family can make a difference in Chicago by designating 50% of your ticket price to worthy non-profit organizations around Chicago. Just pick the organization you want to support from this list and mention their promo code when you order your ticket. When you mention a code, you will also receive 10% off the ticket price .

This weekend, Chicago will rock with the following earth-shaking percussive arts ensembles from around the nation:

Step Afrika from Washington, D.C. is the first professional company in the world dedicated to the tradition of stepping. Founded in December 1994, the company is critically-acclaimed for its efforts to promote an understanding of and appreciation for stepping and the dance tradition’s use as an educational tool for young people worldwide. Step Afrika reaches tens of thousands of Americans each year and has performed on many stages in North & South America, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean.

Ensemble Espanol Spanish Dance Theater under the artistic leadership of Founder, Dame Libby Komaiko and Associate Artistic Director, Irma Suarez Ruiz, is the premier Spanish dance company and center in the United States to have in-residence status at a university, Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago.  The Company, under the auspices of the Department of Music & the Dance Program, is chartered to share the rich traditions of the dance, music, literature, and culture of Spain in the classical, folkloric and Flamenco styles, with all communities, and to be a center which encourages new artistic creativity within the framework of the Ibero-Hispanic experience.  The Ensemble Espanol, founded in 1976 by Dame Libby, is comprised of forty dancers, singers, musicians and guest artists.

The Mexican Folkloric Dance Company of Chicago was founded in 1982 by José Luis and Matie Ovalle, its present artistic directors and choreographers. As Chicago’s oldest Mexican dance institution, MFDC has received countless recognitions and awards, has performed for three presidents and represented Mexico in the 1994 USA World Cup opening ceremony, as well as numerous national television performances, most recently at the 2009 Latin Grammy Awards. MFDC will welcome their special guests, the Grammy nominated music sensation – Sones de Mexico!

Sones de Mexico is a unique ensemble of seasoned Mexican folk musicians and educators that hails from Chicago, a city that boasts a Mexican community that is quickly nearing one million people. The group formed in 1994 to keep the tradition of Mexican son alive in its many regional forms, true to its roots and old masters, and current and fresh at the same time.
Chicago Mayfair Academy of Fine Arts was founded by tap legend Tommy Sutton and under the direction of Peggy Sutton. Performing only Sunday evening is the Mayfair Performing Company, under the direction of Maria A. Lanier-Ware, in an original step dance created by Jarkari Sherman. Mayfair celebrates 54 years of dance excellence and community service.
Hope to see you there!

Video of Ensemble Español performance at Flamenco Passion show 2011

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure to attend the Ensemble Español’s Flamenco Passion gala show in honor of the company’s 35th anniversary. What a feast to my eyes and ears! For more than two hours the company’s dancers and musicians performed  with such passion and love for their art that I lost track of time and submerged myself fully into the flamenco experience. I found myself clapping, stomping, and dancing in my seat. Beautiful costumes and multimedia effects helped make this experience as memorable as when I saw a live flamenco performance for the first time.  I remember having tears in my eyes on that occasion because I felt a deep connection with the spirit of this dance. At a very intuitive level,  I sensed  Flamenco’s origins rooted in poverty, despair and discrimination, and at the same time in a quest for  survival, dignity, and joy for living. I think it is that courage to enjoy life despite adversity what attracts me the most about this dance. And that joy for living was successfully portrayed by the Ensemble during a piece called Alegrias y Jaleos (Happiness and Shouts of Joy). Here is the video for your enjoyment. And next Summer, please make sure to attend this show. It is well worth it.

June 24-26: Ensemble Espanol caps 35th American Spanish Dance and Music Festival with Flamenco Passion gala performances

Whoever is interested in Flamenco and lives in Chicago has heard of The Ensemble Espanol Spanish Dance Theater. For 35 years,  this company of forty dancers, singers, and musicians led by artistic Director Dame Libby Komaiko, has been presenting and promoting Spanish dance and culture in all its forms. To celebrate this big accomplishment, the company is  presenting a series of  “Flamenco Passion” gala performances that will take place at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, IL 60077. Live music for “Flamenco Passion”gala performances will be performed by guest musicians Manuel Palacín (Flamenco singer, National Ballet of Spain, Madrid); Paco Fonta (Flamenco singer and guitarist, Jáen/Miami) and Antonio Gabarri Jiménez (Flamenco guitarist, Madrid).  Performances are Friday, June 24 and Saturday June 25 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, June 26 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $26-$46. Free parking is available. .On Saturday, June 25 there will be a special “Meet the Artists” benefit reception immediately following the 7:30 p.m. performance in the lobby of the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie. The reception will provide an opportunity to meet and greet Dame Libby Komaiko, Irma Suarez Ruiz, company dancers and guest artists. Spanish tapas by Café Marbella will be served along with wine, music & silent auction. Tickets are $60 and include entrance to the “Flamenco Passion” Saturday, 7:30 p.m. concert. For tickets or more information call 847-673-6300 or visit

Here is a sample of what you will see at this show. This style of Flamenco is called “Alegrias“, one of my favorite styles, specially when it is danced with the Bata de Cola. Ole!

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