The mission of Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre and School is to enrich our community by drawing people close to the beauty and energy of the flamenco tradition and, by expanding on that tradition, create an innovative art form that explores the issues of contemporary life.
Susana di Palma founded Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre in 1982. One of the few American Spanish dance companies that present both traditional flamenco programs as well as original theater flamenco works; the company is comprised of an ensemble of international artists, dancers, and musicians who are renowned for bringing the power, passion, and virtuosity of the art of flamenco to American audiences.
“It was great to see a flamenco company dancing this well which also had a sense of humor and such a clear idea of theater.“ – Doris Deither, the Villager, New York City
“Dramatically different flamenco.“ – The Orlando Sentinel
Zorongo Featured on MN Original
Susana di Palma
Choreographer, Artistic Director of Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre & Dancer
Having studied Spanish dance and flamenco since childhood, Susana di Palma continued her apprenticeship with maestros such as Ciro, Manolo Marin, Manolete, Carmen Mora, and Merche Esmeralda. She performed throughout Spain in tablaos and with companies such as La Singla. In 1985 she founded Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theater in Minneapolis. Its mission has been to create innovative theater works that expand on traditional flamenco to reflect on controversial contemporary issues. Di Palma’s full-length theater-flamenco ballets include Flor, Garden of Names, Gernika, Sadja, First, I Dream, La Virtud Negra, Encuentros, Tales of the Black Legend, Zorro in the Land of the Yellow-Breasted Woodpecker, Convivir, and Los Caprichos among others. Her works have been presented at New York’s Joyce Theater, Miami’s Florida Dance Festival, St. Paul’s O’Shaughnessy Theater’s “Women of Substance Series,” and the Walker Art Center among other venues. She choreographed Lorca’s Blood Wedding for the Guthrie Theater and Bethany Lutheran College. In 2012, she was a curator for the Walker Art Center’s “Choreographers’ Evening.” In 2016 she was invited to choreography Pica, a work on Picasso for the New York company, Noche Flamenco. Pica was performed on their national tour and at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. She has introduced new work for the past seven seasons at Cowles Center for the Performing Arts in Minneapolis. Her Lorca’s Women won the Sage Award for Most Outstanding Choreography. In 2018 she choreographed and danced in Mill City Opera’s Carmen. In 2017-18 di Palma recreated two works that speak to today’s contemporary concerns her children’s puppet show Tra Ti Ti Tran Tran Toro about immigration and Garden of Names on political “disappeared.”
“Di Palma, who founded Zorongo Flamenco in 1982, remains the most tantalizing dancer to watch, with a passion so fierce that smoke emanates from her“- Mpls StarTribune, July 2015
“Susana di Palma’s sense of defiance is ferocious, enigmatic, poignant…” – Seattle Times
She is currently working on Casita on homeless women. Casita will premiere as part What The Moon Sees at the Lab Theater April 11 – 14, 2019. As part of di Palma’s 2017 McKnight Fellowship for Choreography, she will be in residency at MANCC, Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography, in Tallahassee, Florida to further the development of this new contemporary flamenco duet. MANCC is the only national center for choreography in the world located in a major research institution, and operates from one of the premiere dance facilities in the United States. The Center is embedded within The Florida State University School of Dance, and offers unparalleled opportunities for contemporary choreographers to hone their artistic practice and develop new work inside a creative community.
A devoted teacher, di Palma taught in the University of Minnesota, Department of Dance for over 25 years. She currently teaches in The Cowles Center’s Distance Learning Program and directs classes at the Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theater School. As an individual artist, she has received grants and fellowships from the Minnesota State Arts Board, National Endowment for the Arts, The McKnight Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, and The Bush Foundation. In 2017 she was awarded a McKnight Fellowship for Choreography and a Minnesota Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant.
Andrea J. Frenzel
Andrea J. Frenzel is a dancer returning to the stage after a 12-year hiatus exploring life as a mother, doula, marathoner and finance professional in New York. Her flamenco discovery began over 20 years ago in class with Susana di Palma. Before moving to NYC, she was a founding member of the Majas, Zorongo’s student company, Zorongo’s School Director and was the recipient of a Jerome Foundation Travel-Study grant.
Deborah Elias has been dancing flamenco since 1994 when she was swept away by Carlos Saura’s flamenco film masterpiece Carmen. Much of that time she has studied and worked with Susana di Palma. She has also created her own work as Deborah Elias Danza Española. A dedicated and sought-after educator, Deborah conducts residencies and workshops in K-12 schools through Young Audiences, COMPAS, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (Connect), the Shubert Center, and the Minnesota State Arts Board.
Colette is originally from Chicago where she began dancing ballet with Edward Parish and started flamenco training with the Ensemble Español. Relocating to Minneapolis in 1998, she created FUEGO Flamenco and danced, designed, and produced many successful shows. She has received numerous awards for her work including the McKnight Fellowship for dancers. Colette has performed with numerous groups including the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet, Rogue Flamenco, and Interact Center Theater. Colette is a dedicated ally to the disabled community and believes strongly in personal empowerment through the arts. She is currently teaching Flamenco for All Ability, encouraging dancers with and without disabilities to experience the curative power of flamenco.
Hilde De Roover
Hilde De Roover started dancing flamenco, about ten years ago, and she is intrigued by its complexity and history. She loves the process of discovering, understanding and feeling the intertwining of cultures, rhythms, emotions, and movement. When she joined Zorongo’s Majas program, Hilde started studying flamenco dance more intensively, mainly with Susana di Palma. Through this program, she has had the privilege of performing with Zorongo and had the opportunity to learn from a variety of internationally known flamenco artists.
Seeking dance deeply rooted in music and expressing our collective search for freedom and humanity, Amanda Dlouhy began studying flamenco with Susana di Palma in 2013. She was thrilled to travel to Spain to study in 2015 and 2016. Her instincts come from a layered dance history, including early training in ballet, jazz, and tap. She began studying Bharatanatyam in 2004 and danced with Ragamala Dance from 2005 – 2013, touring nationally and internationally. She received a McKnight Fellowship for Dancers in 2011.
At age five Grace Holthaus started with ballet, tap, and jazz, and in college at the University of Minnesota, Morris fell in love learning cultural dances–Indian, belly dance and Renaissance court dancing. Since moving to Minneapolis after college, she tried flamenco and found home! Grace is a Majas dancer with Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre and had the privilege of performing with Deborah Elias Danza Española in Las Flamencas and with Mill City Opera in Carmen.
Eve Laabs’ flamenco journey began after seeing Zorongo’s production of Romeria at Minnehaha Falls in 2008. She joined the Majas apprenticeship program in 2014 and studied intensively at Zorongo with Susana di Palma, Colette Illarde, and AJ Frenzel, as well as with local flamenco artists Sachiko Nishiuchi and Deborah Elias. Although yet to realize her goal of studying in Spain, Eve is grateful for the local flamenco aficionados who have provided the opportunity to study with renowned artists including Belen Maya, Omayra Amaya, La Conja, Javier Heredia, and Juan del Gastor. She has performed with Zorongo in Los Caprichos (2015/6), Lorca’s Women (2016), And the Beat Goes On! (2017) and Garden of Names (2018).
After Jenna Laffin graduated from college in 2008, she moved to a small town in southern Spain to teach English. It was there that she became immersed in the culture of flamenco, learning the dance and its history, and became fluent in Spanish. Jenna began training with Susana di Palma in 2009, and has performed in Zorongo productions Zorro, Locas Mujeres, Caprichos, And the Beat Goes On, Garden of Names, and various other shows with the Majas apprentice dance company. Jenna has spent three years studying flamenco intensively in Madrid, where she also continued her teaching career in bilingual elementary schools. Jenna holds an international elementary diploma in Montessori education and is completing a Master’s in Education through St. Catherine University. She is a 1st through the 3rd-grade teacher at Great River Montessori in Saint Paul.
Molly Kay Stoltz
Molly Kay Stoltz is a Minneapolis-based dancer and musician and earned her Summa BFA in Dance in 2009 from the University of Minnesota. She is known for her ability to span many genres from American vernacular to flamenco and is fascinated by rhythms and the intersection of music and movement through all genres. Her focus is on building connections throughout the artistic community of the Twin Cities. She currently studies and performs with Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theater as a proud member of the Majas Program, and also works with Joe Chvala’s Flying Foot Forum and Kaleena Miller Dance. She has recently presented her work at Bryant Lake Bowl’s 9×22 Dance Lab (2016 & 2017), at the first Majas Choreography Showcase (2018) and with the Zenon Zone Program (2018).
Board of Directors Staff
Sarah Strauss, President
Robin Moede, Vice President
Kristin Charles, Treasurer
Donna Stephenson, Secretary
Alessandra Chiareli, Catherine Higgins-Whiteside, Christine Kozachok, Colette Morris, Vicki Walker
G. Michael Bargas – Ex Officio Managing Director Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre
Susana di Palma – Ex Officio Founder and Artistic Director Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre
Major Season Sponsors
Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre wishes to thank our many generous sponsors and individual donors, especially our Major Season sponsors.
- This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.
- Susana di Palma is the recipient of a 2017 McKnight Choreography Fellowship, administered by the Cowles Center and funded by the McKnight Foundation.