CHICAGO — February 14, 2012 — Luna Negra Dance Theater continues its season this spring with a World Premiere by Artistic Director Gustavo Ramírez Sansano titled CARMEN.maquia, a Picasso-inspired, contemporary take on the famous, fiery and flirtatious Spanish gypsy, Carmen. This work marks Luna Negra's first-ever full evening-length production and is a creative collaboration between three prize-winning artists: choreographer Sansano, Spanish fashion designer David Delfin and set designer Luis Crespo. Luna Negra presents CARMEN.maquia in one performance only at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph Drive, Saturday, March 24 at 8 pm.
Set to orchestral selections by French composer Georges Bizet, this work for 14 dancers is an abstraction of the familiar story told in Bizet's opera Carmen, here presented without words or lyrics, where the brooding but disciplined Don José falls madly in love with the rebellious, free-spirited Carmen. Bizet's recognizable, powerful melodies propel each scene forward as Crespo's malleable set transforms into a cantina, jail cell, tobacco shop, sprawling countryside or thrilling matador's arena. The Luna Negra ensemble shifts fluidly from characters Carmen and Don José to a chorus of bravado bullfighters, fortune-telling gypsies and regimented soldiers. Sansano's detailed and quicksilver movement, peppered with subtle references to traditional Spanish dances, puts a modern stamp on this timeless tale of the thin line between love and obsession.
Crespo's set and Delfin's clean costume palette, accented by sharp bursts of color, are reminiscent of paintings by Spaniard Pablo Picasso, who was inspired by the exotic idea of Carmen and painted some 200 portraits of her. Also an aficionado of bullfighting, Picasso likened Carmen to the bulls fought in the arena, describing them in the same way: both fighting for freedom. Sansano's title, CARMEN.maquia, is a playful spin on the Spanish term "Tauromaquia," meaning "the art of bullfighting."
"I've grown up with Bizet's Carmen music all my life, but I've always wanted to interpret it through my own impressions," said Sansano. "Carmen is an old story that's still relevant today. I think it continues to captivate us — the way Carmen captivated Don José — because the feelings in it are universal. Don José loved Carmen but that love only brought him pain, and the pain from love is the worst kind of pain."
The creation and World Premiere of CARMEN.maquia is made possible through an Artistic Excellence Grant from the Chicago Community Trust. Presenting Partners are BMO Harris and Exelon. Season Patron for 2011-2012 season is June Bild Pinsof. Season Partners include: Allstate, the Alphawood Foundation, The Boeing Company, The Crown Family, Discover, Illinois Arts Council, The Joyce Foundation, The MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince, JPMorgan Chase, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Mercedes-Benz and the Polk Bros Foundation. Luna Negra Dance Theater receives in-kind support from The Chicago Athletic Clubs and Athletico.
Luna Negra Dance Theater performs CARMEN.maquia in one performance only at the Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph Drive in Millennium Park, on Saturday, March 24 at 8 pm. Tickets range in price from $25 to $65 and are available by calling The Harris Theater box office at 312-334-7777 or online at www.harristheaterchicago.org .
About the Artists
Luis Crespo (Set Designer) attended the École Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Strasbourg, France in 2002. Here he came into contact with some of the most important developments in scenography and studied under Jean Cristophe Lanquetin and Francisco Ruis de Infante. In 2004 he returned to his native Spain to work in set design with smaller theater companies and in a private school, Off Theater and Cinema School. It was at the theater school where he met Gustavo Ramírez Sansano in 2005. Sansano was a pupil of the set design class, about to embark on beginning his own dance company, the TITOYAYA Dance Project. Sansano asked Crespo to join his project, creating the set for the first piece that Sansano was about to create, Retrato de Oscar Wilde. In the following years, Crespo continued designing and constructing sets as well as designing lighting for various theater and dance companies in Spain and across Europe. In 2010 he was awarded the Comunita Valenciana Scenic Arts Prize in the category of Best Set Design. Today he has worked on over 50 different set and lighting design projects around the world.
David Delfín (Costume Designer) is a Spanish designer and artist born in Ronda, Málaga, in 1970. In 2001, he created the brand Davidelfin together with the three Postigo Brothers (Deborah Postigo, Diego Postigo and Gorka Postigo) and the model Bimba Bosé. The first time he walked the runway was at the "Circuit de Barcelona" where he presented a collection entitled "Openin Nite" (Spring/Summer 2001). In 2002 he presented his collection "Cour des Miracles" at the Pasarela Cibeles in Madrid. This collection, inspired by surrealism, showed the models with their faces covered with hoods and gallows ropes tied to their necks, thus creating a controversy due to the fact that it coincided with the war which was being fought in Afghanistan against the Taliban regime. However, all these polemics didn't stop him from being awarded with the prize for the Best Young Designer's Collection at the Pasarela Cibeles in 2003, for his collection entitled "In loving memory." Ever since then, he has been present at Cibeles every season up to September 2008 and, in February 2009, he was included in the New York Fashion Week's official calendar, becoming one of Spain's icons in the international sphere.
Gustavo Ramírez Sansano (Choreographer, Artistic Director) was appointed in 2009 to succeed Eduardo Vilaro as Luna Negra's Artistic Director. Born in San Fulgencio, Spain, Sansano started dancing with Josetta Garciasuch and trained with such teachers as Karemia Moreno, Guillermina Coll and Jose Maria Escudero from the Instituto del Teatro of Barcelona. In 1990 he joined the Ballet Joven de Alicante. Following that he danced in Ballet Contemporaneo de Barcelona, Ballet de la Comunidad de Madrid, Nederlands Dans Theater II and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. From 2007 to 2010 he served as the Artistic Director of his own company in Valencia, TITOYAYA Dance Project. He has danced works by Jacopo Godani, Hans Van Manen, Jirí Kylián, Ohad Naharin, Johan Inger, Paul Lightfoot, Victor Ullate and Jim Vincent, among others.
Since its inception in 1999, Luna Negra Dance Theater has established itself as a significant and vital component of Chicago's arts and cultural community. Founded by Cuban-born dancer and choreographer Eduardo Vilaro, Luna Negra celebrates the richness and diversity of Latino culture through the creation of works by contemporary Latino choreographers and through intensive, hands-on education programs that encourage discovery and exploration of personal and community identity. Steering away from stereotypes and folkloric representations, the company performs works of contemporary Latino dance with energy, power, and passion. Luna Negra makes its home in Chicago at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park, and tours nationally and internationally. Now under the leadership of award-winning Artistic Director Gustavo Ramírez Sansano, Luna Negra has risen to the forefront of American contemporary dance. The company currently has works in the repertory by choreographers from Argentina, Columbia, Cuba, Mexico, Spain and Venezuela. In addition to performing, Luna Negra conducts extensive outreach and education programs, serving annually over 10,000 students in the Chicago area. Luna Negra Dance Theater's company includes Renée Adams, Stacey Aung, Christopher Bordenave, Nigel Campbell, Moníca Cervantes, Veronica Guadalupe, Joseph Kudra, Sayiga Eugene Peabody, Kirsten Shelton and Eduardo Zuñiga.
For more information about Luna Negra Dance Theater, please visit www.lunanegra.org or call 312-337-6882.