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‘We know how to survive’: Flamenco dancer Valerie Montes excited to return to stage

Editor’s note: Venue Plus continues “In Case You Didn’t Know,” a weekly feature with fun tidbits about New Mexicans and their projects.

Valeria Montes is working to bring flamenco back to Casa Flamenca in Old Town. (Courtesy of Ryan Flanagan)

No two days are the same for Valeria Montes.

This remained true for the artist during the pandemic.

“We’re artists, and we know how to survive,” Montes says.

The Albuquerque-based flamenco dancer put her efforts into building an outdoor stage at Casa Flamenca in Old Town.

“We used it for livestream and outdoor shows,” she says. “Then the space sat empty for an entire year. It was really sad that all of our hard work and investment was abandoned.”

Montes went back home to Mexico for a few months. When she returned to Albuquerque, there was a spark inside her to keep moving forward.

This is when she met with Neal Copperman from AMP Concerts.

“I asked his advice about not keeping the space empty,” she says. “The next day, he told me that he put together a five-week season of concerts. That is 10 shows of music.”

Montes says the music series was so popular that they added a second date for

Flamenco dancer Valeria Montes is ready for the summer tablao season to begin at Casa Flamenca. (Courtesy of DeAnn Vincent)

flamenco guitarist Juani de la Isla on Sunday, June 13.

While the two were collaborating, Montes kept her eye on having a summer tablao season at Casa Flamenca.

“We are still working on getting visas so that the artists can get here from Spain,” she says. “We are looking forward to getting back onstage to perform. Our hope for the tablao season is to start on July 1.”

Montes is looking forward to performing again in front of a live audience.

She says that during the pandemic, she continued to dance, though she couldn’t do anything that would benefit artists financially.

“It was devastating,” she says. “While it was difficult to navigate, it was a huge learning experience. A lot of us really appreciate the live music and dance. I began to think of how lucky I am to perform in front of an audience. I treasure that feeling.”

Montes credits her team with being proactive in getting the outdoor space ready to go during the pandemic.

Casa Flamenca teamed up with AMP Concerts for a five-week music series in the outdoor space. (Courtesy of Valeria Montes)

“I feel very happy that Casa Flamenca was ahead of the curve and crazy enough to build the space,” she says. “The best way to experience the music and dance is in person. We are following all of the protocols to keep everyone safe.”

As Montes gears up for the summer tablao season, here are five things you probably didn’t know about her:

1 “I started dancing Mexican folklorico when I was 5. I danced it through my youth, and I didn’t start dancing flamenco until I was in my 20s.”

2 “I end the day with a gin and tonic.”

3 “I have a daughter that is 25 years old.”

4 “There’s no place that I’d rather be than Mexico. That’s the best place I like to perform in.”

5 “Last year, both my father and mother passed away within one month of each other. I decided to do a performance in my hometown to honor my mom and dad. That performance put together my entire life in one performance. I will never forget. It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever done.”

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