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‘Must-watch’ flamenco: ‘Inside Yjastros’ film blends performances by multiple casts

Yjastros soloist dancer Alisa Alba during a performance. (Courtesy of Pat Berrett)

For decades, flamenco has been an art form that has brought in a diverse audience.

The National Institute of Flamenco and the Encinias family have a huge stake in it.

The institute’s Yjastros: The American Flamenco Repertory Company puts on two seasons a year. Both of those were sidelined due to the pandemic.

It didn’t stop the NIF organizers from pushing forward with a new project: “Inside Yjastros.”

The documentary will premiere online at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13.

Marisol Encinias, NIF executive director, says that typically in November, Yjastros fills its home theater at the National Hispanic Cultural Center with the energy of flamenco performance.

This year, Yjastros members longed to return to the stage, but knew something entirely different was in order.

Singer Vicente Griego and soloist dancer Carlos Menchaca during an Yjastros performance. (Courtesy of Pat Berrett)

“We tried to find a way to continue social distancing and how to continue our work in a pandemic,” says Encinias. “It’s tough to do with a large company.”

The institute turned to local filmmaker Christopher Michael Roybal of Incredible Films to create the documentary.

It blends the power of performance by Yjastros with behind-the-scenes documentary footage from the company’s 20th year.

“What makes this film a ‘must-watch’ is that it’s not possible for someone to see Yjastros like this in the theater or anywhere else,” Roybal says in a statement. “It combines multiple casts performing pieces. It’s really a testament to the training and expertise of the company that multiple casts could be edited together so seamlessly. Yjastros is a multifaceted world, and the film expresses that.”

Encinias says the NIF has worked with Roybal on two previous films – “The Spanish Room” and “Siempre Flamenco.”

“He did interview to explain the company,” she says. “He worked hard to tell the story of the dance company.

Yjastros soloist dancer Nevarez Encinias and corps dancer Roxana Jian. (Courtesy of Pat Berrett)

We’ve worked with him for a long time, and he knows how the company works. He brought some fresh ideas to the table for this project.”

Encinias says like many other arts organizations, the NIF had to pivot to keep creating avenues for the arts to get out to the community.

It offers flamenco classes through Zoom.

In June, it took its annual Festival Flamenco Alburquerque online with performances from around the world.

“Everything that we do is a way for people to see what the institute does,” Encinias says. “It’s been tough to make some of the changes because flamenco thrives in the live setting.”

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