Last Updated on June 8, 2023
The allure of flamenco grabbed my attention experiencing my first performance in Taos, New Mexico. Flamenco is a spirited, rhythmic Spanish music mostly accompanied by a guitar, along with singing and dancing, often including castanets.
Emmy Grimm, well-known as La Emi Flamenco, and her team of musicians and dancers performed at the El Monte Sagrado Resort in Taos and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to see this incredible show. The concert was artistic, intriguing, and dramatic, leaving me full of questions and curiosity about the culture, artistry, and legacy of flamenco.
New Mexico is the primary center for flamenco in the U.S. due to a history of Spanish colonization. The state promotes this multiculturalism through professional dance events and festivals centering this fascinating performing art.
La Emi Flamenco
Dancing since the tender age of four, La Emi began teaching flamenco within the Northern New Mexico public school system at 12. She studies intensively with Carmela Greco, La Popi, and others. She continues performing in Madrid and across Spain and the U.S.
Emmy currently teaches at her own school, the EmiArteFlamenco Academy.
“Dance does things for you that go beyond the stage,” La Emi said. “I’ve seen it in my dance academy. It gives you discipline, it gives you confidence, it humbles you, and it gives you the drive always to do your best. It feeds your soul.”
I loved the drama and intensity that leaves each dancer breathless by the end of the performance. La Emi exudes a variety of emotions in her movements including mystery, anguish, love, joy, and happiness.
I especially enjoyed watching her dance with a flamenco shawl, adding a particular grace and charm to the dance. I don’t know how she kept from tripping, but that’s part of her talent as an accomplished flamenco dancer.
Festival Flamenco Albuquerque
The oldest and largest flamenco festival outside of Spain, the 36th Festival Flamenco Alburquerque – officially spelled with an extra “r” reflecting the original Spanish name of the city – is celebrated over a nine-day stretch each June with 23 performances, more than 60 workshops, 12 internationally based performance companies, one New Mexican company, and 114 performers.
You’ll see artists from Spain and the Americas perform, teach, and immerse attendees in this exciting festival of flamenco. This year’s festival will take place June 9 – 17, 2023. The National Institute of Flamenco presents the festival with the University of New Mexico and the National Hispanic Cultural Center.
Evolving from a two-day flamenco performance to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the College of Fine Arts at the University of New Mexico in 1987, the Festival Flamenco Alburquerque has grown to be the most significant flamenco event outside of Spain.
The National Institute of Flamenco
Eva Encinias, a 2022 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellow (the nation’s highest honor in folk and traditional arts), and lifelong flamenco artist, established the National Institute of Flamenco in 1982. The nonprofit has developed into an internationally significant arts organization.
Marisol Encinias is currently the Executive Director of the NIF. She works with her mother, Eva, and brother Joaquin, to develop the cultural excellence, artistic relevancy, and educational quality that keeps NIF leading the arts education and the preservation of flamenco.
NIF is also home to the Conservatory of Flamenco Arts and Yjastros, The American Flamenco Repertory Company, the current dance company in residence at the University of New Mexico’s Department of Theatre and Dance, led by Joaquin.
Undergraduate students at the University of New Mexico can pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Dance with a concentration in flamenco. Graduate students can receive a Masters in Fine Arts in Choreography and choose to focus on flamenco or work on a Master of Arts in Dance History and Criticism. Students work with both faculty and visiting professors in flamenco and Spanish dance.
Where to See Flamenco in Santa Fe
La Emi is joined by her entourage of performers, singers, and dancers at her seasonal residency at Benitez Cabaret at The Lodge at Santa Fe, sponsored by Heritage Hotels & Resorts. The evening shows run Wednesday through Sunday from July to October.
Special guest appearances include cante singer Vicente Griego, flamenco guitarist Gabriel Lautaro Osuna, dancer Juan Siddi, and more. I saw La Emi and the group perform on a Sunday matinee in July 2022.
El Flamenco, a Santa Fe restaurant and cabaret, offers tapas, wine, and live performances by their resident Flamenco Company. El Flamenco also offers adult dance and free classes for children in partnership with the Santa Fe School of Flamenco.
Flamenco Performances in Albuquerque
Tablao Flamenco Albuquerque is an exclusive partnership between the nonprofit National Institute of Flamenco and Heritage Hotels and Resorts at Hotel Albuquerque in historic Old Town. This is the place to see renowned flamenco performances by premier artists from Spain, Mexico City, and the United States.
Friday and Saturday dinner shows feature a dynamic performance along with an exceptional meal. Sunday matinee performances welcome all ages and begin at 4:00 pm. This is where I learned that a tablao is a wooden stage where the artists perform creating the perfect sound of the dancing.
Proceeds from this intimate venue support the National Institute of Flamenco.
Audiences can also catch flamenco performances at the Rodney Theatre at University New Mexico (UNM), the National Hispanic Cultural Center, and the “X” Theatre at UNM during the annual festival.
In Albuquerque, Rovology recommends staying at the Los Poblanos historic inn and farm.
Eva Encinias says that “Flamenco is so much more than a dance and music form – it is a profound emotional expression, culture, a way of life.”
After experiencing this magnificent creative art form, I have much more of an understanding of the joy and other emotions it brings to the dancer and the audience.