In February, Yjastros: The American Flamenco Repertory Company teamed up with Dallas-based The Orchestra of New Spain on a project.
After months of working together, “Quem Quæritis?” was born.
“This is more than a shepherd’s play or Christmas play,” says Joaquín Encinias, National Institute of Flamenco artistic director. “Even when we did it, it was after Christmas and we needed to find something more universal about the story.”
The production immerses audiences in New Mexico’s rich tradition of pastorelas, dramatizing the shepherd Bartolo’s journey and ultimate triumph over doubt and adversity.
Alongside Bartolo, played by Yjastros principal dancer Carlos Menchaca, the audience experiences passion and expression forged in the crucible of art.
The Orchestra of New Spain’s interpretation of works by Santiago de Murcia and other composers complements the flamenco dance.
Encinias, Marco Flores, and other artists at the forefront of flamenco and Spanish dance all have a hand in the choreography.
Encinias spent months researching the story and went back all the way to the Baroque period.
“Carlos plays Bartolo and we follow the struggle of faith,” Encinias says. “The dance and music is all told through Baroque music.”
As Encinias continued his research, he was often enthralled by his findings.
“The story lends itself to the history of our tradition in the theater and in the traditions of the church,” he says. “I love telling this story of the doubting shepherd. It’s a very human story. It’s really uplifting and we’re doing it again after Easter. It’s been a wonderful experience for my company.”
The National Institute of Flamenco’s Yjastros has been presenting flamenco since 1999. The company is known for the combining the mosaic quality of the American repertory company with the authentic idiom of flamenco, creating a living archive of choreographic masterworks.
Encinias says “Quem Quæritis?” is the latest project for the company.
“We enjoy collaborating and pushing ourselves to the next level of dance,” Encinias says. “The whole dance company, our musicians and a chamber orchestra are all in full force.”