Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Flamenco Weddings Adds Zest to Once-in-a-Lifetime Celebrations

Soon-to-be-married couples, who seek to make their wedding receptions memorable, are turning to Flamenco Weddings, a professional Chicago-based troupe of vibrantly costumed dancers, an instrumental flamenco guitarist, and an impassioned singer.

This fresh entry into captivating wedding entertainment is offered by Rosetta Magdalen (photo), a flamenco dancer, teacher and choreographer, who is the founder and artistic director of Flamenco Chicago located at 2914 W. Belmont on the city's northwest side. Magdalen said Flamenco Weddings is now gearing up for the June wedding season and is reaching out to those in the planning stages.

Magdalen says previous performances typically elicit comments like, "Your show made my wedding!” While those responses are delightful and welcome, what the artist really enjoys “is seeing the reaction of guests as they watch our show and then join in on some easy steps. Rarely does anyone remain at their table once the music and dancing start."

Trained as a classical pianist and dancer, with a background in ballet, tap, and folkloric dance, Magdalen settled on flamenco "because it is a percussive dance form, in which the sounds made by the feet become a musical instrument themselves. So, the rhythms and reverberations of the heel work move through your entire body. I really enjoyed the feeling of this."

Along with Flamenco Weddings, Magdalen teaches students of all ages and abilities in 13 classes offered each week. Additionally, the studio presents showcases twice a year, "where everyone is invited to participate," she says, "not just a talented few."

While Magdalen is pleased with the continuing growth of her studio -- it opened in 2003 -- and her expanding wedding business -- what especially satisfies her are the changes she witnesses in students. "It's so exciting to see them develop and grow in their confidence level,” she said, “which they tell me carries over into other areas of their lives. It's obvious the medium of flamenco can be a catalyst for people to get deeply in touch with their own spirt through movement."

As to Flamenco Weddings, Magdalen adds, "What better way to start married life then to give the gift of music, emotion, and fun to those who witness a momentous beginning."

For more information about Flamenco Weddings or Flamenco Chicago, visit the website,, or call 773-680-0039.

(The photographer for the portrait shown above is Marisela Guerra.)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Fiction and fact converge at The Book Cellar Feb. 16, 7 p.m.

The Book Cellar, an independently owned, community-oriented bookstore located in the heart of Chicago’s Lincoln Square, will play host to two authors who focus their writing on the works of Jane Austen.

Karen Doornebos and her debut novel, “Definitely Not Mr. Darcy” will join English professor Mona Scheuermann, and her most recent nonfiction work, “Reading Jane Austen,” Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012, 7 p.m., 4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL. 60625, 773-294-2665.

“Definitely Not Mr. Darcy” tells the story of Chloe Parker who auditions for a Jane Austen-inspired public television documentary set in Derbyshire, England. Important to this 39-year-old divorced mother with a struggling business, there's a $100,000 prize to be awarded to the contestant who can successfully answer trivia questions about Austen's “Pride and Prejudice.” But the documentary turns out to be a reality dating show set in 1812 and eight women are competing to snare Mr. Wrightman, the heir to a gorgeous estate, along with the $100,000 prize.

Published in September of this year by Berkley, Penguin Group, “Definitely Not Mr. Darcy” has garnered rave reviews. “Publishers Weekly” in its starred review said “Doornebos gives the historical romance novel a hilarious update in this delightful debut.” And “RT Book Reviews” added, "this tale combines a fun plot with witty dialogue, charming characters and a strong-willed heroine. It will leave you laughing in delight and reluctant to put it down until the last page is read."

Mona Scheuermann is professor of English at Oakton Community College. She has been guest professor at universities around the world, including the universities of Hamburg and the Free University of Berlin, Germany, the University of Berne, Switzerland, and the University of Melbourne, Australia.

Her books deal with social and historical aspects of eighteenth-century English fiction, particularly in terms of women's experience. Of her new book, Eighteenth-Century Life said, “Austen’s period was arguably the most socially and politically tumultuous in England’s history, and by placing the novels in this remarkable era, Scheuermann sharply defines Austen’s view of the social contract.”

“Reading Jane Austen” was just republished in January as a paperback.

For more information about the reading and signing, call The Book Cellar at 773-294-2665, or go to its website, And, to learn more about Karen Doornebos, visit