Photo of Ensemble Español performance with three couples in blue and orange light.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater’s Raised in Chicago, Ready for the World fundraising campaign has concluded by raising a total of more than $1.5 million, Executive Director Jorge Perez announced.

The total includes $1 million contributed by The Caerus Foundation, Inc., which in 2016 awarded Ensemble Español a Growth Grant in the amount of $500,000. The award came with the challenge to raise an additional $500,000 over three years ending on June 30, 2019, which would then be matched by the Foundation with an additional $500,000. The challenge goal was reached and exceeded by $2,000 this on April 5, two months ahead of schedule.

The campaign has helped support the following notable achievements:

  • Presentation of the annual American Spanish Dance and Music Festivals, featuring world-renowned artists and musicians and new world premiere works
  • Production of the annual Holiday Family Concerts at Northeastern Illinois University
  • Establishment of a full-time professional performance/teaching core company starting with four dancers/teachers
  • The transitioning of staff and dancers to fair market wages for their full- and part-time employment
  • An increase in the educational programming of the company from 21,000 students served in 2017 to 32,000 in 2019
  • Hosting of six interns
  • Creation of a youth company board
  • Development of our new, mobile-friendly bilingual website
  • Increased presence on social media including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube
  • Performed at the Joyce Theater in New York
  • The premiere tour to Spain in 2016
  • The addition of an extra arts education staff member and part-time marketing person
  • Securing services of professional marketing and public relations firms
  • Designed dancer apprentice program
  • The training of three new Spanish dance teachers
  • Six community residencies, two added community workshops, increase in attendance at workshop classes
  • The addition of 168 new donors for a total of 460 representing individuals, foundations and corporations
  • Over 50,000 audience members served annually
  • Increased endowment support

Raised in Chicago, Ready for the World honored all of the artists in the Ensemble, beginning with beloved founder Dame Libby Komaiko.

Komaiko created and founded the Ensemble Español in 1976. After performing for the University community in 1974, in accompaniment with concert pianist and mother, Dorothy Komaiko, she became the University’s artist in residence. Two years later she created the Ensemble with five Northeastern students. Today the company trains and houses 43 dancers. Dame Libby passed away on Feb. 2, 2019. She inspired and changed the lives of countless dancers, students and Spanish dance aficionados.

To honor her legacy and memory, the Ensemble has launched The Dame Libby Komaiko Legacy Fund for Ensemble Español. The fund will support the same initiatives that meant so much to Dame Libby and will ensure that her wish for the Ensemble to continue to bring the passion of Spanish dance to all will be honored.