Sept. 13: Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater performance features former CLC dancer, Juan Castellon

Chicago's own Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater, which is internationally recognized for excellence in showcasing exciting Spanish dance, music and culture, returns to the College of Lake County with its romantic dance moves on Saturday, Sept. 13. The company includes a former CLC dance student, Juan Castellon, who began his dance training at CLC under Dr. Valerie Alpert, co-chair of the dance faculty.

"Juan took his very first modern dance class with me in the fall of 1998," Alpert said. "He was part of the CLC Prairie Spirits Dance Troupe for several years around that time and he also performed and choreographed in CLC's Fear No Art Festival. Even though Juan was not technically trained when I met him, I knew he had talent and that he was passionate about dance... a natural performer. I encouraged him to audition for Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater. He eventually did, and now he is traveling all over the world. I am very proud of Juan; he is a shining example of what is possible for our students."

Castellon began his formal Spanish dance training with Dame Libby Komaiko in 2005 after receiving a full scholarship/apprenticeship to the Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater. In 2006, he was promoted to full company dancer. Castellon represented NEIU at the College Dance Festival in 2012 and 2013 as a performer. In 2012 he graduated from Northeastern Illinois University with a major in communications and a minor in dance.

The performance will be held at 8 p.m. in the Mainstage Theatre of the James Lumber Center for the Performing Arts on the Grayslake campus, 19351 W. Washington St.

Ensemble Español, which is in residency at Northeastern Illinois University, has earned rave reviews from media in Chicago and across the country. According to a January 2012 review in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, "Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater lives up to its name, beguiling the crowd with quicksilver choreography steeped in an atmosphere of romance. The Chicago-based company transcends geographic boundaries to get to the essence of what dance is all about: emotion in motion."

The company's founder and artistic director, Dame Libby Komaiko, was the first American artist to be decorated with Spain's highest honor: "Lazo de Dama" or "Ribbon of the Dame" by the King of Spain for her artistic, cultural and educational work throughout the U.S.

In 2010, Hedy Weiss of the Chicago Sun Times wrote: "This world-class company and its roster of guest artists never ceases to bedazzle its audiences with the variety, precision, beauty and heat of its performances. You would be hard-pressed to find the breadth and range and sheer brilliance of dance ─ from folkloric to flamenco to balletic riffs. Ole!"

The ensemble's repertoire contains original work by Dame Libby Komaiko, Edo, Maria Alba, Victorio Korjhan, Roberto Lorca and Spain's legendary dancers and choreographers Juan Mata and Ana Gonzalez, founding members and former first dancers of the National Ballet of Spain. In addition, works by Timo Lozano, Edo, Paco Alonso, folkloric authority Juanjo Linares and Flamenco master Manolete help exemplify the ensemble's dedication to its cultural and artistic mission.

Ensemble Español also appears with opera, chamber ensembles and orchestras and tours throughout the United States, including Puerto Rico and Hawaii, and has performed in Mexico, Costa Rica, Poland, Australia and China.

The program will include Dame Libby Komaiko's critically acclaimed full company Bolero and their new Flamenco/contemporary ballet, "Mil Clavos" (One Thousand Nails) by Ron De Jesus.

Tickets: Regular tickets: $35/32/28; Senior/Staff/Alumni: $34/31/27; CLC Student/Teen: $15; and Children: $12. A $2 per ticket JLC facility fee will be added at the time of purchase. Other fees may apply to Internet and phone purchases. CLC student tickets are not available for online purchase. Teen and children tickets must be purchased with adult priced tickets. For ticket information, visit or call the Box Office at (847) 543-2300. Hours are Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 90 minutes before scheduled performances.

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