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Spreading the ‘dream’ of positivity

SANTA FE, N.M. — Mina Fajardo believes there was a reason for the scary experience she had earlier this year.

Back in May, the Santa Fe-based flamenco dancer and her husband, Spanish guitarist Chuscales, were in a major car accident on their way to a show in Denver. Two strangers, whom she likened to angels, came to their rescue and called for help.

She said her husband wasn’t hurt, but she suffered injuries to her foot and head. When she was taken to the hospital and received a CT scan, however, the doctors made a different discovery: a tumor in her thyroid gland.

She said she was not aware of the tumor before she had to go to the hospital for the accident and it’s now something her doctors are able to monitor.

“I think (the) accident had meaning,” said Fajardo, a native of Japan who has been dancing for about 30 years.

Following the accident, she was forced to slow down her busy work schedule. The experience also inspired her to start making music again, something she hadn’t done much of since she started dancing.

During her break, Fajardo wrote poems, and eventually songs, that made up the CD “Dream.” Songs from that album, as well as her new holiday EP, “Memories of Christmas,” act as the soundtrack for “Holiday Dream,” her flamenco show featuring Chuscales at Teatro Paraguas this week.

The album, which according to Fajardo’s written description, is about “the future, wishing peace and happiness in the world,” includes a song about a dream she had about her father, who she hasn’t seen in decades and never dreamed about before the car accident. Another song was inspired by the two strangers who came to her aid after the crash. She said the accident showed her the kindness of people like those who helped her.

When asked about the type of message she wanted to convey with the show, Fajardo talked about her desire to bring forth positivity.

“Around the world, everybody has problems or something like that, but when we are dancing or singing, for two or three minutes, we forget everything,” she said. “(By) following the steps or following the music, our minds become so fresh.”

She said the holiday season is often the time when people try their best to stay positive or do good deeds. That kind of “dream,” Fajardo added, is something she also wants to highlight with her performances.

The holiday shows were also put together in collaboration with a local troupe of belly dancers from Saltanah Studios, who will dance with the flamenco dancers and perform their own numbers.

The show includes traditional flamenco dance styles, including alegrias, a female solo dance; solea, which Fajardo says is used to provide a more “dark” performance; and fast-paced bulerías. The bulerías will be done to “Carol of the Bells” and the dancers will use castanets.

“(Instead of) people dancing with bells or something, we are doing ours with castanets,” Fajardo said, to bring in the Spanish flavor.

Fajardo said she will be singing “Silent Night” in three languages: English, Spanish and Japanese. She said this is to complement the dream theme, adding that people can often dream in several different languages.

“Sometimes, we go to another country in the dreams while we are sleeping,” she said.

The idea to collaborate with Saltanah Studios came from Fajardo’s relationship with founder Deborah Newberg. They met as dance instructors at Santa Fe Community College.

Dancers from the local Saltanah belly dancing studio will join Mina Fajardo’s holiday flamenco show. Founder Deborah Newberg said the dancers will perform a mix of traditional and contemporary belly dance in the show. (Courtesy of Teatro Paraguas)

According to Newberg, she will perform a solo, and the group of five dancers will perform both traditional belly dance and a more modern piece to Turkish-Spanish fusion music. For that number and the ones with the flamenco performers, Newberg said the belly dancers will use fan veils – a common belly dance prop, and a combination of the two items. Because of flamenco dance’s traditional use of fans, Newberg said, the item “expresses the blending” of the two styles.

“Flamenco has the really exciting footwork and all that, and we tend to be a little softer in our expression,” Newberg said of how the genres complement each other. “But they’re both rhythmically interesting and (use) beautiful arm movements.”

“Holiday Dream” is this Thursday-Saturday starting at 7 p.m. General admission is $25.