Fantastic experiences at the Alburquerque Flamenco Festival

The Alburquerque Flamenco Festival celebrates its 35the year from June 11 to 18, 2022. The exciting week-long event, sponsored by the Instituto Nacional del Flamenco and the University of New Mexico, is the largest flamenco event outside of Spain.

The festival takes place in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and uses the original Spanish spelling of the city’s name: Albuquerque.

Tablao stage and flamenco dancers in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Flamenco dancers on a tablao stage
(Photo Credit: True New Mexico)

Above all, the Alburquerque Flamenco Festival manifests the power and legacy of flamenco. More than 75 of the best flamenco artists from the US and Spain perform here. They also teach more than 40 workshops and classes on dance, music and topics related to flamenco. This year, the festival sponsors more than 20 performances in the main theater, tablao noche and black box theater, as well as outdoor performances and free family-oriented programming.

Emi and her flamenco entourage

Last December I saw my first flamenco performance in Taos, New Mexico. Emi and her entourage of musicians and dancers gave a show at El Monte Sagrado Resort. The concert was captivating, artistic, and engaging, and she left me wondering about the history, art, and culture of dance.

Emmy Grimm, known professionally as La Emi, has danced and toured the world, training with Carmela Greco from Spain and is the protégé of renowned dancer María Benítez. Based in Santa Fe, La Emi runs her professional company EmiArte Flamenco, her school, EmiArte Flamenco Academy, and a youth company, Flamenco Youth de Santa Fe.

Flamenco Youth from Santa Fe will perform at Festival Flamenco Albuquerque during a free afternoon of family programming with student companies from all over New Mexico. EmiArte Flamenco performs regularly at the Maria Benitez Cabaret Theater at the Lodge at Santa Fe.

Flamenco dancers preforming.
Flamenco “preserves and promotes the art, culture and history of the Flemish communities”.
(Photo Credit: True New Mexico)

Interview with the Director of Operations of the National Flamenco Institute

Flamenco explores the “full range of human emotion,” Annie d’Orazio, Ph.D., director of operations for the National Flamenco Institute, told me. It preserves and promotes the art, culture and history of the Flemish communities. This one-of-a-kind, world-class event attracts thousands of students and patrons with the quality and breadth of its programming.

Dr. d’Orazio kindly answered my questions about flamenco. We talked about the various origins of flamenco, the basic steps of the dance, the role of sing flamenco (the song that accompanies the dance) in the form of art, and more.

Flamenco dancers performing on stage in front of a singing band.
sing singing is “essential and has many different structures, melodies and points of origin”.
(Photo credit: Pat Berrett)

flamenco and singing

Janie beat: Has flamenco always been accompanied by a singer and a Spanish guitar? What is the meaning of the singer? It seems that Vicente Griego, the sing flamenco interpreter with La Emi, has a large following, watching the reactions of the audience that night.

Annie d’Orazio, doctor: Flamenco comes from cante, flamenco singing. Flamenco singing… has many different structures, melodies and points of origin. It is a very broad topic that I could not do justice to here, but there are very good resources to learn about cante. Not all songs can be danced, some songs are not accompanied by guitar or dance, others are accompanied only by music and others are accompanied by [only] dance. The cante itself is not an accompaniment or an ornament. The guitar became a part of flamenco later in the development of the art form.

Often the content of the text or lyrics is metaphorical and inspires the guitarist and dancer, giving them the impetus to create and express themselves within sets of shared musical and movement conventions.

The Culture of Flamenco

He passed: What cultures does flamenco originate from?

d’Orazio: Flamenco comes from many cultures and has a long and complex history. It contains Arab, African, European, Roma, Jewish, Muslim and Christian cultural influences. [But] the influence of the gypsies —the Spanish gypsy people— on flamenco is enormous.

flamenco dancing

He passed: Can you describe the basic steps of the dance and how they are combined?

d’Orazio: There are several steps and gestures: markingsfootwork variations, brushesY falsetasall used in different parts of the [dance].

In general, there are conventional structures in each dance, but the dancers have creative license within those traditional structures to incorporate the steps. Flamenco dance is intrinsically linked to music; dancers must understand and pay attention to cante and guitar.

He passed: What role does the University of New Mexico play in the development of dancers, guitarists and singers?

d’Orazio: The University of New Mexico has a unique program that offers the Flamenco concentration within the Dance Program. Festival Flamenco Alburquerque and the founding director of the Instituto Nacional de Flamenco, Eva Encinias, established the Concentración de Flamenco at the university and will retire in the fall of 2021. Marisol Encinias, her daughter, is [an] assistant professor in the department.

Undergraduate students can earn a Bachelor of Dance with a concentration in Flamenco. Postgraduate students can earn an MFA in Choreography and choose to focus on flamenco or a Master of Arts in Dance History and Criticism. The investigation of the process is very in-depth, and students have the opportunity to work with amazing teachers and guest teachers in flamenco and Spanish dance.

Two couples of flamenco dancers in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Two couples of flamenco dancers amaze the public
(Photo Credit: True New Mexico)

The Evolution of the Albuquerque Flamenco Festival

He passed: How has the festival evolved in the last 35 years?

d’Orazio: The festival began in 1987 when the Faculty of Fine Arts approached Eva Encinias to produce an event to celebrate 50 years of the faculty.the Anniversary.

The first Alburquerque Flamenco Festival was a 2-day event. As the event grew, Eva Encinias saw the need to bring in guest artists from Spain to provide students and the community with other reference points for flamenco, broadening their understanding of the art form. Eva Encinias and her daughter Marisol and her son Joaquín have ensured the artistic excellence, relevance and accessibility of the Alburquerque Flamenco Festival for decades.

Flamenco Festival Workshops

During the festival you will find dance workshops at levels from beginner to advanced, and also music workshops, including singing, guitar and percussion, as well as a flamenco appreciation workshop. Make sure you learn the Bata de Cola technique, the rear catch.

Flamenco Festival Shows

Buy tickets for flamenco shows at the Tablao Flamenco Albuquerque theater at the Albuquerque Hotel in Old Town, the Albuquerque Journal Theater at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, the Rodey Theater, and The X inside the UNM Center for the Arts. Festival Flamenco Alburquerque ticket packages provide one ticket to seven nightly performances on the main stage.

Flemish. Old!

Pro Tip: Stay at one of the Heritage Hotels & Resorts, a partner of the Alburquerque Flamenco Festival.

“Flamenco is much more than a form of dance and music: it is a deep emotional expression, it is culture, it is a way of life”.

Eva Encinias

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.