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Guitarist Roni Benise enjoys ‘pushing the boundaries’

Roni Benise is no stranger to performance.

For nearly 20 years, the guitarist has toured the world.

His latest production, “Benise: Fuego! Spirit of Spain,” will bring him to Albuquerque on Saturday, Oct. 6.

“The show has an emphasis on flamenco,” he says in a recent interview. “In the past, it was about world music. We wanted to focus more on Spain and the fusion of flamenco.”

Benise spent the last two years working on the production and then filmed a PBS special, which aired in June.

“We do have some slight adjustments for the live show,” he says. “The PBS special was only an hour. So viewers will see what was broadcast and then an entire other hour.”

Benise is a musician who has done it on his own terms.

As he began to play music at a young age, he began to teach himself different styles of guitar playing.

He didn’t know how to read music, but he began composing original works with emotional arrangements that are both wild and refined, producing a sound that is as edgy and exotic as it is romantic and sensual.

“I’m inspired by lots of music and travel,” he says. “I try to bring that back into my music. I wanted to do traditional fusion. I grew up playing rock ‘n’ roll. Then the idea came to fuse rock and flamenco guitar. It’s a different approach for me.”

Benise is looking forward to returning to Albuquerque after being away for nearly three years.

“Albuquerque has a huge flamenco community, and it’s recognized worldwide,” he says. “The dancers that I have for this show have been handpicked by myself. The dancers are from Mexico, Canada, France, Venezuela and Cuba. This is really an international cast that brings the extra fire.”

Because the performance is flamenco fusion, Benise says, he is pushing the envelope.

“People have to be open to seeing new things,” he says. “I love that people are coming on this journey of experimentation. I think that’s what performance is all about. As artists, we have to keep pushing the boundaries and move forward with our craft.”

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