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Passionate moves: Festival Flamenco brings seven companies, nearly 50 dancers to ABQ stages

For centuries, flamenco dance has evolved with the changing times.

Elements have been modified or added, yet one thing remains the same – the passion for the art.

For 31 years, Eva Encinias Sandoval and the National Institute of Flamenco have cultivated the growth of the dance in Albuquerque.

Sara Calero is one of the dozens of dancers who will perform in Albuquerque.

With the start of the Festival Flamenco Internacional de Alburquerque on Saturday, June 9, coming up, Encinias Sandoval is looking forward to another year.

“When we started 31 years ago, there were two performances and three workshop,” Encinias Sandoval says. “Looking back at the time, we’ve been able to expand the festival and really bring in world-class artists that represent the art form in different ways. That’s important to the education of flamenco.”

Festival Flamenco is one of the biggest flamenco events in the United States.

Vanesa Coloma will perform in Albuquerque.

This year’s lineup includes flamenco giants Alfonso Losa, Vanesa Coloma, Guadalupe Torres, La Familia de Los Reyes, Pedro Córdoba featuring Javier Latorre & Gema Moneo, Isabel Bayón and Sara Calero.

While Encinias Sandoval is the founder and executive director of NIF, she gets help from her daughter, Marisol Encinias, who keeps tabs on which performers to bring to the festival. Marisol Encinias is also a principal dancer with NIF.

“We have seven companies and 38 workshops this year,” Encinias says. “We’re also bringing in a classical Spanish dancer who is considered a ballerina in Spanish classical. She will be doing a show on June 12.”

Another highlight of the festival is La Familia de Los Reyes, a gypsy family from Seville, Spain.

Familia de los Reyes are from Seville, Spain.

“They come from a long line of artists, and they are a conceptual flamenco show,” Encinias says. “There is also Isabel Bayón. In the world of dance, there’s a big push to do dance theater. It’s more dramatic, and her conceptual idea is about voodoo and superstition. There’s a lot of flamenco dance in there; it’s just presented in a different way.”

With nearly 50 dancers coming to perform in Albuquerque, Encinias says, there are plenty of opportunities to see a show.

Each company will perform solo shows throughout the week. Then the final two days of the festival, there will be a gala performance at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. This is where each featured performer will present one piece of dance.

“The gala events are fun because it’s like a greatest hits,” Encinias says.

Guadalupe Torres will perform at Festival Flamenco in Albuquerque.

And there are the nightly tablaos at Hotel Albuquerque that will feature many of the dancers.

“Most of these dancers don’t dance in such a small, intimate setting,” Encinias says. “The entire atmosphere is organic, and you never know what to expect.”

Encinias Sandoval is surprised often when people don’t realize Albuquerque has a great flamenco scene.

“We’ve been doing the festival for 31 years now, and people are still finding out about it,” she says.