DAME LIBBY KOMAIKO
|His Majesty Don Juan Carlos I, King of Spain, has awarded Libby Komaiko the highest honor his nation bestows upon foreign nationals. Ms. Komaiko, Founder and Director of the Ensemble Español, received the "Lazo de Dama" de la Orden de Isabel la Católica (Ribbon of the Dame) in recognition of her achievements in promoting the artistic, cultural and educational values of the Spanish tradition in the field of music and dance throughout the United States. She was decorated at the award ceremony following the Opening Night Gala performance of the American Spanish Dance Festival on June 10, 1983. Dame Libby Komaiko is the first American artist in history to receive this honor.
Dame Libby is "an original" and her Ensemble Español is a "miracle." Dance Magazine's Editor-in-Chief, William
Como, highlighted Dame Libby and the Ensemble Español in his January column as one of the three companies to
watch in 1987. She
was also featured on the cover of the 1987 Dance Magazine Summer Dance Calendar. In her review in Dance
Magazine, Norma McLain Stoop said of Dame Libby Komaiko, "Siguiriyas was a haunting, dramatic solo danced by
Libby Komaiko whose castanet work was brilliant. Tragic and compelling, she was superb." The Reader stated,
Dame Libby "is capable of great things. She performed over and over again with no loss of elan. She was by turns
a sultry prima donna, a prim young lady and a lyrical muse. She's good at farce (El Regreso Del Amante), at social
portraiture (Maguinaciones Reales) and sheer gypsiness (Siguiriyas). In all, the grand manner, physical and
theatrical, prevailed." The Reader, November 1982. ". . . and in her deep look hides the mystery of the art."
Alfonso Zapater, Heraldo de Aragon, Spain. August, 1988.
Dame Libby, who is a Professor of Dance in the Department of Music at Northeastern Illinois University, has
performed with the dance companies of José Greco and Lola Montes and for theater, opera, television, film and
orchestra, including guest performances with Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops. She has studied in Spain and the
United States with Maria Alba, Nana Lorca, Lola Montes, José Greco, Elisa Stigler, Edo, Manolo Vargas, Paul
Haakon, María Magdalena, Pedro Azorin, Ciro, Pacita Tomas and Roberto Lorca.
Dame Libby is the originator and Director of the Internationally acclaimed Annual AMERICAN SPANISH DANCE
FESTIVAL, as well as originating and directing the faculty of the Ensemble's monthly workshops presented to the
community at Northeastern Illinois University. She has choreographed the majority of her company's extensive
100+ repertoire and has been the recipient of numerous civic honors, national awards and Choreography
Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Illinois Arts Council and the Chicago Office on Fine
Arts. She is a sought-after teacher, choreographer, and Master
teacher throughout the community and nationally. During the 1987 season, Dame Libby was the first recipient of the
"Art of Ethnicity" Award of Excellence/Master Teacher by the Chicago Office of Fine Arts and the Chicago Public
Library. She is also on the roster of the Illinois Arts Council as a Master Teacher - via the "Arts-in-Education and the
In May of 1990, Dame Libby was the recipient of the esteemed "Brightner Award". This honor was presented to
Mayor Richard M. Daley for her continuing contributions to our Chicago communities. She created programs which
integrated Spanish dance, music and culture to present in the Chicago area elementary and high schools. The
tremendous success of these programs has inspired an entire network of artistic, cultural and educational programs.
What a great source of pride to our City of Chicago! In 1990, the "Jr." Ensemble Español, which she originated five
years earlier at the Funston School, grew into the ALL CITY "JR." ENSEMBLE ESPAÑOL currently represented by
scholarship students from eleven elementary and high schools.
During the 1993-94 season, Dame Libby worked closely with the Dean of Students of the Interamerican
University system throughout Puerto Rico to arrange for the company's February 1994 Intercultural/Interchange tour
of the Island. She also worked closely with the Tourist Office of Spain in preparation for the "Look of Spain"/"Spain
Day" and the Opening Ceremonies of World Cup 1994. In July, 1994 she was awarded the Pepsi Cola Hispanic
Community award. She is also the 1994 recipient of the Illinois Arts Councils' Master Teacher Fellowship Grant.
Dame Libby was also a nominee for the Governor's Award for the Arts in 1995. Dame Libby is currently working on
a video documentary "Ensemble Español - The First 20 years". She has recently completed a faculty sabbatical
and traveled to Spain as part of this special project. The video will be available in the Fall of 1997.
Dame Libby's accomplishments are listed in "Who's Who in America," "Who's Who in the Midwest," "Who's Who
in Emerging Leaders in America" and "Who's Who in Entertainment."