Irma Suarez Ruiz
Suarez Ruiz
Artistic Director, Ensemble Español; Spanish Dance
Music and Dance
College of Arts and Sciences
(773) 442-5926
Spanish Dance
Courses Taught
Spanish Dance
Research Interests
Dance and Spanish Dance pedagogy and performance

B.A., Northeastern Illinois University, Foreign Languages


Irma Suarez Ruiz,of Mexican – Puerto Rican descent, was born in Chicago. Her formal dance training in classical ballet and Spanish dance began with Dame Libby Komaiko in 1979 at Northeastern Illinois University. During that year, she received a scholarship apprenticeship to the Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater (E.E.S.D.T.). In 1980, she became a company dancer and in 1986 was promoted to First Dancer. She has also studied with important Spanish dancers/choreographers Maria Alba, Edo, Paco Alonso, Victorio Korjhan, Juanjo Linares, Roberto Lorca, Timo Lozano, Manolete, Carmela Greco; ballet with Ana Czajun, and Juan Mata & Ana González, founding members of the National Ballet of Spain. In Spain, she studied with Cristian Almodovar, Aida Gomez, Rafaela Carrasco, Belen Maya, La China, El Guito, Paco Romero and Candela Soto at the Amor de Dios Spanish/Flamenco dance studios.

As First Dancer of the EESDT, Irma Suarez Ruiz performs annually at the American Spanish Dance & Music Festival, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and on the international dance series of the Auditorium Theater at Roosevelt University. This series hosts international artists and companies such as Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Ballet Nacional de Cuba; and the Kirov Ballet. Ms. Ruiz has danced starring roles in Dame Libby Komaiko’s Bolero (Maurice Ravel), Memorias de Vidas Gitanas, and Pasión Sevillana (Joaquin Turina). Additionally, she has starred in EESDT’s production of El Amor Brujo (Manuel de Falla) in the role of Candela, choreographed by Juan Mata and Ana Gonzalez (founding members and former first dancers of the National Ballet of Spain ). Other starring roles include Dame Libby’s Romance de Triana and Leyenda (Isaac Albeniz), La Boda de Luis Alonso (Geronimo Gimenez) from the zarzuela (Spain’s light opera) La Noche del Encierro,” and Ecos de España, (Rimksi Korsakov).

Ms. Ruiz has received critical acclaim from the Chicago Sun-Times arts critic for her own choreography: “The company’s ‘first dancers,’ Irma Suarez Ruiz and Jorge Perez, in Amor Eterno, their powerful duet of love, rage, abandonment and passion, danced with such scorching intensity that visions of a gypsy campsite came to mind. Talk about burning up the stage.” (Hedy Weiss)

As Artistic Director for Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater, she works closely with Dame Libby Komaiko on projects, and has contributed, to critical acclaim, to the company’s choreographies for national and international engagements. Irma is instructor of dance at NEIU, and on the faculty of the E.E.S.D.T. - Flamenco dance workshops open to the community.

She has appeared as a guest artist with Ballet Español's production of Espiritu Flamenco at the Bomhard Theater of the Kentucky Center for the Arts in Louisville, Kentucky; Dances of Spain with the St. Louis Cultural Flamenco Society and Gitana Productions in St. Louis, Missouri; the Chicago Human Rhythm’s Project World Festival of Tap and Percussive Dance, and for Bacchus Group Production’s Ashe of the Americas in Maui, Hawaii; San José, Costa Rica; and Walt-Disney Productions in Orlando, Florida. Her international engagements with the Ensemble Español include the Festival Internacional Cervantino Mexico where she toured 6 cities- Mexico D.F., Acapulco, Guadalajara, St. Luis Potosi, Cuernavaca and Guanajuato. In honor of the 82nd anniversary of the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico she toured 5 cities, San Juan, Ponce, Lajas, San German, and Arecibo. Irma, along with members of the Ensemble Español, toured Poland as American and NEIU ambassadors in honor of Warsaw University's 190th anniversary. This cultural/artistic exchange tour presented two sold out performances at the Polski & Collegium Nobillium Theaters, and three Flamenco dance & music workshops at: Giedroyc College of Communication & Media; Collegium Nobilium Arts Center; and Isadora Duncan Dance Academy. Following the 2008 Olympics, Irma also performed in China in the cities of Shenyang, Anshan & Quinhuandao.

Irma has received numerous awards throughout her career, including a Neighborhood Arts Project Grant from the Chicago Council on Fine Arts, and the 1993 Viva Latina Dance Master Award from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. Ms. Suarez Ruiz was honored with an Artistic Ambassador Award from the Ruth Page Foundation and Northeastern Illinois University in recognition of her international artistic achievements and contributions to dance. On October 16, 2004, Irma Suarez Ruiz, along with dance partner Jorge Pérez were honored with the Twentieth Anniversary Award from the St. Louis Cultural Flamenco Society. In 2006, Irma joined the dance faculty at Northeastern Illinois University teaching Spanish dance in the Department of Music and Dance Programs.

In October of 2007, Ms. Suarez Ruiz was presented with the Northeastern Illinois University Excellence in Fine Arts award. In the Spring of 2008, Ms. Ruiz was invited to choreograph a suite of Spanish dances for the Civic Ballet of the Ruth Page Center for the Arts. Performances were presented at the Ruth Page Center and Northeastern Illinois University. Irma is married to Antonio Ruiz and the proud mother of Crystal and Tiffany, as well as new parents of Brandon, Tyler, and Collin.

J Building, 112
5500 North St. Louis Avenue
Chicago, IL 60625
United States

(773) 442-5926
Office Hours
TR 1:45 -3:00 p.m.
Main Campus