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‘A special place’: The Benitez Cabaret holds many memories for New Mexico flamenco dancer la Emi

Emmy Grimm, known as La Emi, performs a summer season in Santa Fe for the third year. Grimm began dancing on the same stage when she was growing up. (Courtesy of Heritage Hotels)

It’s the day after opening night and Emmy Grimm is feeling the energy from the show.

The Santa Fe-based flamenco dancer is back for a third season at The Benitez Cabaret at The Lodge at Santa Fe this summer.

Her company, EmiArteFlamenco, will stage 45 performances over nine weeks.

“We have an incredible company,” Grimm says. “It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to perform in front of an audience.”

Opening night was sold out and the run continues Wednesday-Sunday through Sept. 5.

Emmy Grimm, known as La Emi, performs a summer season in Santa Fe. (Courtesy of Heritage Hotels)

Grimm is known on stage as La Emi and The Benitez Cabaret holds special memories for the New Mexican.

Her father worked the box office for flamenco legend Maria Benitez way before Grimm was born.

Her mother would attend shows while pregnant with Grimm.

As a child, Grimm made her debut dancing on the stage with the youth company, Flamenco’s Next Generation, led by Benitez.

“It’s a special place,” she says of the stage. “I don’t think it will wear off any time soon. I get on stage here and I feel at home.”

Today, Grimm leads EmiArteFlamenco and teaches a new generation of flamenco dancers. She continues studying her art by traveling to Spain to work intensively with Carmela Greco and La Popi, as well as José Galván, Juana Amaya, Yolanda Heredia, Ivan Vargas Heredia, Torombo and Rocio Alcaide Ruiz.

She has performed under the direction of Greco, Galván and Torombo, and at major venues and events, including the Carmela Greco Seminario de Flamenco y Danza Española in Madrid; Cuevas Los Tarantos in the Sacramonte of Granada; in Sevilla at the Teatro Alameda Festival Flamenco; and at the Café de Chinitas in Madrid.

During this season, Grimm will be joined by a handful of talented performers – most of which are New Mexican.

Vicente Griego, Olivia Rojas, Javier Saume Mazzei and Gabriel Osuna will be on stage providing the music.

Grimm says there are two male dancers – Carlos Menchaca and Daniel Peregrino.

There are also three core New Mexican female dancers – Janira Cordova, Christina Salazar and Cienna Chavez.

“Janira and I grew up dancing together with Maria,” Grimm says. “Daniel used to work with Maria’s company and now serves on my board. It’s always been like a family.”

There are more than a handful of numbers packed into the nightly performance.

Grimm says that, before the pandemic, choreographer Gala Vivancos put together a danza española – a hybrid of flamenco.

“It’s a 15-minute opening to the show with all of the dancers,” she says. “We want to showcase traditional flamenco and danza española.”

Following the opening, the trio of female dancers take the stage, then a female and male partnership piece.

“Then, I perform a bata de cola and it’s a short segment,” Grimm says. “Eloy Aguilar choreographed it.”

Grimm wanted to curate the performance to showcase all of the talent. “We want every single artist to have a feature,” she says.

During the pandemic, Grimm performed virtual performances and smaller, intimate shows at the Eldorado Hotel.

“We always had the plan of returning since the end of last year,” she says. “I used the pandemic to work. I trained virtually with my trainer in Spain so that we could have this moment again.”

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