Visceral Dance Presents ‘Carmen.maquia’

By Emma Muhleman

Visceral Dance Chicago is set to captivate audiences June 28th through June 30th with their presentation of Carmen.maquia at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. The production is returning to Chicago, after its world debut in 2012, directed by Nick Pupillo, founder and creative director of the company, and choreographed by the acclaimed Gustavo Ramírez Sansano. 

Carmen.maquia reimagines Bizet’s classic opera, inspired in part by the paintings of Pablo Picasso. The evening-length piece weaves the elegance of Spanish paso doble and the passion of flamenco with the innovative and contemporary styles of Sansano’s choreography. 

Sansano created Carmen.maquia while working as the artistic director of Chicago’s Luna Negra Dance Theater from 2009 to 2013. He is a distinguished name in dance, winning first prize at the Ricard Moragas Competition in Barcelona, the Prix Dom Perignon Choreographic Competition in Hamburg, and the Valencian performing arts awards for best dance show and best choreographer. In 2011, he was featured in Dance Magazine as one of the “25 to Watch,” and the Chicago Tribune named him Chicagoan of the Year in Arts and Entertainment in 2011. Sansano has been working with Visceral Dance the past couple months for the return of Carmen.maquia to Chicago. 

Gustavo Ramírez Sansano by Hans Gerritsen

“The most exciting part is that Carmen’s coming back home. It’s coming back to Chicago, and we’re gonna make this happen,” dancer Laura Mendes said. Mendes, recent merit scholarship graduate of Joffrey Ballet School and Brazil native, is starring as the lead role of Carmen. 

Laura Mendes by MReid Photography

“Every character has a distinct personality and interactions throughout the piece,” Mendes continued. “That’s really what tells this story of love and passion and obsession.” 

Pupillo founded Visceral Dance in 2013 with the vision of forming a diverse and unique company that constantly pushes the boundaries of what audiences expect from dance. “I want the audience to see and understand, but number one, I want them to really feel something from their experience. I’m always going to kind of push a little bit outside that so that we can keep of opening up our arts community,” Pupillo said. 


“The audience is going to feed off the energy on stage just as much as the dancers are feeding off of the energy from the audience,” Pupillo said. “So much of our work needs to not just be seen, but needs to be felt. I think Carmen.maquia is a perfect example. They’ll experience that through the music, through the dance and through the audience. It’s really a piece that’s felt universally.”

The opening night celebration includes pre-show tapas, drinks, and the opportunity to connect with Sansano. Dessert and dancing with Visceral Dance company members will follow the performance. For tickets and more information, please visit

The set design is done by Luis Crespo. Photos used are courtesy of Miguel Angel Sanchez and Visceral Dance Chicago.