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

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Ensemble Espanol Spanish Dance Theater


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It's too bad Blake Edwards used Ravel's Bolero to such memorable effect in his 1979 comedy 10. I could never hear the music the same way again, forever after associating its accelerating rhythms with Bo Derek's, um, romantic encounters. That's a long time to feel like laughing whenever I hear a piece of music that's masterful in its way. Composed for a ballet, it's the score Dame Libby Komaiko chose for her 1993 dance Bolero, a piece for some 20 performers set against a backdrop of Picasso projections. The beginning--remarkably delicate for flamenco--well reflects Ravel's first notes: five kneeling women with their backs to us rise one by one into a seated position, their skirts spreading out from their waists like big, open flowers. They circle their torsos from the waist ("I need to see the spine," Komaiko said during a rehearsal), then bring their arms low behind them to wind their fingers and wrists in flamenco's characteristic twirling motions. When they finally stand, their hips repeat the circles we've already seen. "The whole thing is about women," Komaiko says, referring to both Picasso's work and her own choreography. With waves and phalanxes of dancers forming and re-forming onstage, Komaiko's piece roars to its own blazing conclusion. Bolero closes this program by the 28-year-old troupe based at Northeastern Illinois University; opening it is the 1990 Tiempos de Goya, which features music by Enrique Granados, among others, and a backdrop of works by Goya. Also being performed, with the help of seven guest musicians, are traditional flamenco and folkloric dances. a Fri-Sat 11/5-11/6, 7:30 PM, Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress, 312-902-1500; 312-922-2110, ext. 4, for group sales. $24-$48.

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