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Yjastros flamenco troupe debuts new choreography

Yjastros: The American Flamenco Repertory Company will kick off its 29th season this week. (Courtesy of Pat Berrett)

Yjastros: The American Flamenco Repertory Company will kick off its 29th season this week. (Courtesy of Pat Berrett)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The dancers of Yjastros will step into the fiery footprints of some of Spain’s finest choreographers to celebrate the company’s 29th season this week.

The University of New Mexico’s resident company will debut new choreography. The troupe will interpret the styles of quintessential Spanish flamenco artists visiting Albuquerque, including Manuela Rios and Pedro Cordoba, spun with the dynamic moves of Jose Maya and Concha Jareño.

“They’ve had incredible careers and now they run their own companies,” Yjastros director Joaquin Encinias said. “What these people are doing for Yjastros is not being done anywhere.”

The choreographers spend from three to six weeks establishing new works with Yjastros, he explained. The visiting Spanish masters have worked closely with the dancers since the fall of 2012.

“Each piece is like a painting,” Encinias said.

The concert will mark the debut of “Jaleos 5J,” by Barcelona’s Cordoba. 5J stands for “5 Jotas,” a brand of Iberian ham produced under humane, organic conditions. The dance encompasses steps without additives; without borrowing from other dance forms or using choreographical tricks, Encinias said.

Rios is a student of the traditional, rigorous training of flamenco maestros such as Jose Galvan, La Tona and Farruco. Rios choreographed “De Azúcar Blanca y Almendras” (Almonds and Sugar), an Alboreá or wedding dance, interspersed with his signature sharp and edgy style. Principal dancers Encinias and Marisol Encinias will perform solos as well as group choreography reflecting New Mexican flamenco.

“We’re the most important repository for flamenco anywhere,” Encinias. “You’re seeing a big part of the history of flamenco happening. We’re utilizing the skills of the best people in the world.”

Yjastros’ dancers rehearse five days a week, he explained.

“We’re really taking pride this year in costumes,” Encinias added. “Every piece takes place with a very specific costume design.”

The dancers move to live music, including flamenco singer Vicente Griego and guitarist Calvin Hazen.

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