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The show must go on: ABQ flamenco organization undaunted by flames, proceeds with festival

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Eva Yerbabuena and her company will present a contemporary production.

Eva Yerbabuena and her company will present a contemporary production.

A fire destroyed the National Institute of Flamenco in Downtown Albuquerque last December, turning business files, archives and costumes to ash.

But the blaze certainly did not snuff the spirit nor the plans for its 27th Festival Flamenco Internacional de Alburquerque.

“We were shocked of course by the fire but we were back to work the next day. We were already well underway with negotiations for the festival … so we did not want to let the fire deter us from the momentum that we had developed,” said Eva Encinias-Sandoval, the festival’s founder and artistic director.

Holding the long-running festival was a priority, and that sentiment gave festival planners an impetus to move forward with it.

The festival will be held June 8-14, with performances at the University of New Mexico’s Rodey Theatre and the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

The performances will display the richness and diversity of expressions of flamenco. All of the artists are from Spain.

The first performance is “¡AY!” on June 9 at Rodey with Eva Yerbabuena Ballet Flamenco. On June 10 at Rodey, La Lupi and her company will present the show “RETOrno.” This is the first time that La Lupi, who is from Malaga, Spain, is appearing at the festival.

“She is more traditional but is a master technician. She’s an incredible actress and artist,” said Marisol Encinias, the festival’s director of artistic programming.

“The idea is that it’s a challenge – un reto – in modern ways but looking back (toward the flamenco dance styles of the past) – retorno.”

A special hourlong vocal concert – “Cante Flamenco” – will be presented at Rodey following La Lupi’s concert. It features Enrique Extremeño and Juan Jose Amador, flamenco singer icons from Sevilla, Spain, accompanied by guitarist Paco Jarana.

La Lupi of Malaga, Spain, is appearing at the festival for the first time.

La Lupi of Malaga, Spain, is appearing at the festival for the first time.

“The two singers have different qualities of voice,” Encinias-Sandoval said. “In the cante, there’s no dance, and they’re the featured artists. … We also want people to understand that flamenco cant is the origin of flamenco. The cant developed for centuries before the baile was introduced.”

Extremeño and Amador are also singers in Eva Yerbabuena’s company, which is on stage June 9 at the NHCC in a show called “AY!” It is contemporary in production values and choreographic style, Encinias said.

Yerbabuena formed her own company in 1998 and has choreographed six award-winning concerts. She is from Sevilla.

The fourth flamenco company at the festival is led by Alfonso Losa, performing the show “Tendencias,” June 12 in Rodey Theatre.

A festival press release described the Losa show as finding “expression across a captivating range of dance forms, while retaining the integrity of each” with the purpose of gathering and uniting those forms “with the direct sensibility of flamenco.”

Dancing with Losa are Jesus Carmona and Niño de los Reyes. With these three dancers, the show is expected to be an athletic display of male dynamic and technique,” Encinias said.

Losa, Carmona and de los Reyes are from Madrid.

The festival concludes June 13 and 14 at the NHCC with two evenings of gala performances called Fiesta Flamenca.

“It’s a flamenco explosion. … There is nothing like Fiesta Flamenca anywhere else in the world where you see so many stars sharing the stage,” Encinias-Sandoval said. “All of the headliners, except Eva Yerbabuena, will be presenting with their companies. It’s the big celebration of the festival.”

Flamenco singer icon Enrique Extremeño, left, is from Sevilla, Spain.

Flamenco singer icon Enrique Extremeño, left, is from Sevilla, Spain.

In addition to the companies, there will be four male and two female dancers presenting solos. The men are Farruquito, Carmona, Reyes and Losa. The women are La Lupi and Vanessa Coloma.

The performers love this format, Encinias-Sandoval said. She added that it’s competitive, but in the best of spirits, it shows the performers’ power and flamenco expression in positive ways.

Here is the lineup for the festival’s symposium and performances:

  • June 8 and 9. The festival’s fifth biennial New Perspectives in Flamenco History Symposium. The keynote speaker is Cristina Cruces Roldán of the University of Sevilla. For information on time, place and admission to the symposium, email Dolores Garcia at dolores@nifnm.org.
  • 8 p.m. June 9. “¡AY!” with Eva Yerbabuena Ballet Flamenco. Rodey Theatre, Center for the Arts, UNM campus. Tickets range from $30 to $75.
  • 8 p.m. June 10. “RETOrno” with La Lupi and Company. Rodey Theatre. $30-$75.
  • 9:30 p.m. June 10. “Cante Flamenco” with singers Enrique Extremeño and Juan Jose Amador. Rodey. $20.
  • 8 p.m. June 11. “Lluvia” with Eva Yerbabuena and Company. National Hispanic Cultural Center, 1701 Fourth SW. $30-$75.
  • 8 p.m. June 12. “Tendencias” with Alfonso Losa and Company. Rodey. $30-$75.
  • 8 p.m. June 13 and 14. Fiesta Flamenca gala performances led by Farruquito, NHCC. $40-$90. “He is from the Farruco dynasty. He comes from a lineage of flamenco artists who have a unique flamenco voice – his grandfather, Farruco, and his mother, La Farruca,” Encinias-Sandoval said.
Spanish dancer Farruquito and his company will lead the Fiesta Flamenca gala performances on June 13 and 14.

Spanish dancer Farruquito and his company will lead the Fiesta Flamenca gala performances on June 13 and 14.

“Their power, I believe, as Gypsies, is their ability to improvise and I believe this concert will show Farruquito at his best. He’s an important figure in the history of flamenco.”

Farruquito gained international notice for his role in the 1995 Carlos Saura film “Flamenco.”

Single tickets for concerts at Rodey are available in advance at unmtickets.com, at ticket offices in the UNM Bookstore, at the Pit, and at select area Albertsons supermarkets, by calling 925-5858 or 877-664-8661 or at the door.

Single tickets for concerts at NHCC are available in advance at nhccnm.org, at the NHCC box office, by calling 724-4771 or at the door.

Discount passes for New Mexico residents and ticket packages for out-of-state residents for concerts at both venues are available online at festivalflamen.co

The festival also offers more than 30 workshops in flamenco dance, song, guitar, cajon and castanets.

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