The expressive power of flamenco - Albuquerque Journal

The expressive power of flamenco

Cathryn Cunningham/Journal

If it’s June, it must be time for flamenco.

For the past 35 years, the National Institute of Flamenco has curated Festival Flamenco de Alburquerque – an over a week-long celebration of the genre of dance.

This year the festival returns to full capacity and in-person performances.

“We basically don’t stop,” says Marisol Encinias, NIF executive director. “This is our first time back with a full festival since 2019. It’s our 35th year and we decided to do a big festival.”

The festival runs Saturday, June 11 through June 18 at various locations around Albuquerque.

When Encinias says it’s a big festival, it is.

“We’re bringing in seven Spanish flamenco companies, one company from New York City and our company, Yjastros,” Encinias says. “We’ve also upped the number of free performances in the community.”

Nélida Tirado will perform “Dime Quién Soy” at Festival Flamenco in Albuquerque. (Courtesy of Chasi Annexy)

The festival is the largest flamenco event outside of Spain and touches the lives of thousands of participants through workshops, theater shows, tablao performances, lecture series and free public programming.

In addition to over 30 workshops and a full array of evening and late-night programming, this year’s Festival Flamenco boasts seven U.S. premieres, showcasing the dynamic range and expressive power of flamenco, from its most traditional to its most avant-garde interpretations.

The seven companies and their concerts are: Estévez/Paños y Compañia in “LA CONFLUENCIA,” José Maya and Pastora Galván in “Rizoma,” Paloma Fantova in “CUNA,” Alfonso Losa with invited artists Concha Jareño and Sandra Carrasco in “Flamenco: [Espacio Creativo],” Nélida Tirado in “Dime Quién Soy,” Mercedes de Córdoba in “Ser … Ni Conmigo Ni Sin Mí,” and flamenco’s grande dame Eva Yerbabuena in “D’Madrugá.”

Encinias says the performances continue with Festival Flamenco’s Late Night Series, with thrilling, intimate shows at Tablao Flamenco Albuquerque, featuring unique nightly casts of Festival artists, and three performances in the X Theatre at the University of New Mexico, showcasing works from Yjastros: The American Flamenco Repertory Company, Bronx-based Latina artist Tirado, and Sara Cano.

Performances are held throughout the week at the University of New Mexico’s Rodey Theatre and X Theatre, the National Hispanic Cultural Center, and Tablao Flamenco Albuquerque. The Festival closes with an incredible flourish in the form of Friday and Saturday night gala performances, Fiesta Flamenca, featuring two distinct line-ups of the Festival’s powerhouse headlining artists and New Mexico’s own Yjastros.

“The Fiesta Flamenca are the theater shows and are one of the main attractions,” Encinias says. “Each night half of the invited guests take the stage to do a number. It’s like the best of the best.”

Encinias says there are four free outdoor concerts at four different community centers. It’s part of Bernalillo County’s “Flamenco in Your Neighborhood” series.

At 7 p.m. Friday, June 10, there will be flamenco and dance concerts at the Veterans’ Memorial Park amphitheater, 1100 Louisiana Blvd. NE.

Then at 5 p.m. Saturday, June 11, the festivities will move over to the Westside Community Center, 1250 Isleta Blvd. SE.

On Monday, June 13, at 5 p.m., the free public dances continue at the Paradise Hills Community Center, 5901 Paradise Blvd. NW.

The series ends at 5 p.m. Thursday, June 16, at the Raymond G. Sanchez Community Center, 9800 Fourth St. NW.

“Bernalillo County stepped in and sponsored the free shows for the community,” Encinias says. “We’ve been trying to offer more programming for the community. These events are free and open to the public so that they can experience the beauty of flamenco.”

Cano will also perform two free shows at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 14, at UNM College of Fine Arts. She will then perform “A Palo Seco Redux” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 17, at the Plaza Mayor at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, 1701 Fourth St. SW.

Encinias says the Flamenco New Mexico Lecture Series and Performance Talks is set for three events, which are all also free to the public.

At 7 p.m. Thursday, June 16, there will be the festival artist round table at the Wells Fargo Theatre at the NHCC.

At 9 a.m. Saturday, June 18, there will be a lecture at the Albuquerque Museum, and at 7 p.m. Festival Flamenco founder Eva Encinias will lead a lecture at the NHCC.

“We have an impressive line up and it’s taken a lot of work to get to this point this year and celebrate our 35th anniversary,” Marisol Encinias says. “It feels very crazy to have the artists ready for theater performances. We present flamenco from all aspects and invite the community to support the artists.”

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