Latin dance company Luna Negra closes

Troupe faced financial struggles

May 15, 2013

Chicago lost some of its Latin flavor this week.

After 14 years, Luna Negra is shutting down. The company, launched in 1999, specialized in cutting edge, contemporary Latin dance from around the world. In-house choreographers, like Mónica Cervantes, were considered “dancers to watch”.

But in March the music changed. Luna Negra had just performed Made in Spain at the Harris Theatre, receiving rave reviews.

Then days later, all the dancers were laid off.

Veronica Guadalupe was one of them. “It was a complete shock,” says Guadalupe, “I don’t think anybody, especially the dancers, were aware of the extent to which the company was in dire straits”

Guadalupe joined the company in 2002, first as a dancer then, after retiring last year, as the company’s associate artistic director.

She says under artistic director Gustavo Ramirez Sansano, the company’s reputation soared.

Sansano left the company abruptly in late April.

And based on Luna Negra’s last tax return, their finances were grounded.

The company’s deficit more than doubled in one year, from $48,475 in 2010 to $121,141 by the end of 2011.

Guadalupe thinks there are other factors at work in the company’s closure. She was surprised there wasn’t more support from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is a support of Chicago dance, especially after the layoffs in March.

But Guadalupe also thinks the community didn’t show up.

“You know for being a Latin company, for being the only Latin company here in Chicago, we don’t get any support from the Latin community.”

The company’s tax returns indicate gross receipts from admissions and other items (merchandise sold, services performed, facilities furnished) remained relatively flat, until falling off by about $100,000 between 2010 and 2011.

Luna Negra officials and board members did not respond to requests for comments.

Alison Cuddy is WBEZ’s Arts and Culture reporter. Follow her @wbezacuddy, on Facebook and on Instagram