Artistic director Gustavo Ramirez Sansano leaves Luna Negra Dance Theater

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Gustavo Ramirez Sansano
On the cusp of its 15th season, Luna Negra Dance Theater has announced that current artistic director Gustavo Ramirez Sansano, who moved here from Spain to take over the reins from founder Eduardo Vilaro in 2010, has resigned and will return to Spain tomorrow. His longtime friend, Monica Cervantes—the acclaimed LNDT dancer and budding choreographer who arrived in Chicago with him three years ago—has already gone back to Spain, and probably won't return to this country. Another LNDT signature dancer, tiny powerhouse Eduardo Zuniga, has already left for his native Chile. A company spokesman says that LN management hopes he'll return.

According to that spokesman, the troupe is "going through some financial restructuring . . . as it continues to cope with a challenging economy." Sansano's departure is "his own decision," and he has said he'd like to continue choreographing for LNDT on a project-by-project basis. Executive director Esther Jeles says she is "pleased to have Gustavo remain a part of Luna Negra."

Still, all this is sad news for anyone who cares about LNDT—a prominent institution unique in Chicago for its blend of Latin sensibility and contemporary dance—as well as the health of the dance world generally. At times, Sansano challenged audiences in a way that the old LNDT would not have done. Let's hope that safe choices won't be made as a search committee convenes this May to find a new artistic director.

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