NEIU Ensemble Español Spanish Dance performance

Ensemble Español to use adapted show for special needs students

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Northeastern Illinois University’s resident Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater has received an Urban Gateways Special Education endorsement for its outreach educational performance program, “Spain’s Dancing Rhythms,” offered to schools and communities venues through the organization. 

The program is a presentation of the music, songs and dances of Spain in a variety of ballets, traditional folkloric suites and Flamenco dramas. During the 45-minute show, audience members learn the three styles of Spanish dance: classic, folkloric and flamenco. They also learn about instruments used in Spanish dance and how to handclap (palmas) to the flamenco rhythm.

In April, Julia Hinojosa, who is Ensemble Español’s arts education program coordinator, underwent an intensive one-day training session for an adapted performance. It was an Urban Gateways Professional Development workshop for touring artists and was led by Holly Walejeski, a local registered arts therapist. She confirmed the endorsement this month after reviewing changes that included displaying written words when explaining the dances and styles; repeating the words two to three times; slowing down the palmas sordas, palmas claras explanation; and exaggerating the muffled and sharp sound of the clapping.

Urban Gateways, which delivers high-quality accessible arts experiences for Chicago’s youth, will offer the program to more of their special education school partners in grades K-12 in the coming year.

“It’s exciting that our program will be revamped so that we can be really relatable and reach out to those audiences with special needs,” said Hinojosa.

This year, “Spain’s Dancing Rhythm” has had 100 shows for various audiences throughout Chicago-area schools.

Ensemble Español is internationally recognized as the premier center for Spanish dance, music and culture in America. It has been in residence at Northeastern Illinois University since 1976.