ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — For decades, supporters of flamenco dance worked diligently to keep the art form alive.
From the patrons to the dancers, it has taken a community.
As part of that effort, Hotel Albuquerque and the National Institute of Flamenco have teamed up to create a tablao space inside the hotel near Old Town.
The opening will be on June 10 and offers visitors a glimpse into the tablaos in Spain.
A tablao is an intimate, natural setting for flamenco that’s more conducive to artist-audience interaction.
“This is an opportunity to see flamenco in a closer setting,” says institute director Eva Encinias Sandoval. “It’s a very different dynamic for the performer, because the focus is on the individual dancer. And the audience gets to watch the dancer’s interpretation.”
The two entities have been working on the project for a couple of years. The $750,000 construction began in February, and the two have formed a 10-year partnership.
Encinias Sandoval says that during the first two months of performances, the venue will host veteran tablao dancers Daniel Navarro and Natasha González from Madrid.
“These artists have done tablao for years,” Encinias Sandoval says. “They’re also going to help us with the style. The great thing is that we can choose the various styles of tablao and switch it up.”
The partnership wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Jim Long, CEO of Heritage Hotels, the parent company of Hotel Albuquerque.
A longtime flamenco supporter, Long says there was a need for a venue like this in the city.
“It’s going to create great opportunities for everyone involved,” he says. “And it gives both the community and visitors a place to see flamenco in a great space.”
Long tapped his daughter, Adriana Long, to come up with the design of the space.
Adriana created numerous places to watch the show. In the front, patrons will see about 16 two-top tables for an up-close view.
The space encompasses a VIP area along the L-shaped area, with tufted seats along the wall and a community table seating 18.
“I was raised with Spanish Colonial influences,” Adriana says. “I wanted to blend that style with the raw of the Gypsy influence of flamenco. I didn’t know the entire history, and the goal was to get the two influences to work together.”
Encinias Sandoval says the tablao space offers more intimate performances.
“It’s all a different dynamic,” she says. “We’re looking at the older formats of tablao and how to present them. Back in Spain, tablaos are very common. Here, we have the opportunity to create from the ground up.”
Encinias Sandoval will book performers from across the state, as well as internationally.
“Flamenco has grown over the course of the last 30 years,” she says. “The community is full of great dancers, and we’ll be able to provide a venue for them to perform. This is going to be a great opportunity for the arts.”