Emmy Award winning "Benise: Spanish Nights" opened the 2017-18 Encore Series on Thursday evening with a vibrant showcase of world music, high-energy dancing and glorious costumes. Offering more than Spanish Flamenco, the show gave a taste of Cuban Salsa, Brazilian Samba, Argentine Tango and Parisian Waltz.
Roni Benise, former street musician, performed several of his own compositions and distinctive arrangements of classics from Beethoven to AC/DC. His heartfelt connection to the music, along with his flawless fingering technique, made for an irresistible performance. Weaving its way through the evening, a sense of fun and spontaneity gave the performance a distinct street music flavor.
"Gypsy Nights," with gorgeous, colorful costumes and flirtatious choreography, was one of the evening's high points. The fusion of dancers and musicians on stage made for a dynamic stage experience.
In a more reflective vein, Benise's composition, "Santa Barbara," was a rich blend of violin, guitar and drums. I'm so serious about loving the upbeat, catchy tune of "Santa Barbara" that if I am ever granted a wish to have my own personal theme music, "Santa Barbara" will be my first choice.
Other powerful selections from the show included: "Forever After," a dreamy dance production underscored by mesmerizing guitar; and "Fandango," a wildly happy combo of guitar, bass, violin and drums.
The next Encore series show is less than a month away. "Home Free," an all-vocal country music band from Minnesota and winner of NBC's Season Four "The Sing Off," will perform at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 12 at Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center.
Dawne Leiker is a frequent contributor to The Hays Daily News.