'Flamenco is a part of the fabric of life in New Mexico': Annual festival returns with world-class performances, workshops

Jun. 14—Each June, a spotlight is on Albuquerque.

For the past 37 years, Festival Flamenco Alburquerque has brought world-class flamenco to the area for enrichment.

This year, it's no different.

Marisol Encinias, National Institute of Flamenco executive director, and her team have been tirelessly working since August 2023 on the festival.

"It's nearly a year-long process," Encinias says. "This year's festival is bigger than last year. We've got even more programming during the entire festival."

Festival Flamenco Alburquerque is the oldest and largest flamenco festival outside of Spain.

It will include 20 performances, over 60 free and paid workshops, 13 internationally-based performance companies, one New Mexican company, two world premiere shows and over 90 performers.

Encinias says there will be an incredible range of international artists coming to the festival.

"We have over 80 work visas that we've helped get for the festival," she says. "This is a big event."

Flamenco dancer Karime Amaya — grandniece of the legendary Carmen Amaya — will have the world premiere of "Contrapunto."

Internationally-renowned dancer Farruquito will have the U.S. premiere of "Con-Cierto Flamenco."

Encinias says El Pele, who is one of flamenco's greatest living singers, will perform a show. El Pele opened for David Bowie's 1990 concerts in Barcelona and Madrid, Spain.

Adela Campallo will also have a world premiere of "Fui Piedra" with brother/dancer Rafael Campallo and guitarist Juan Campallo.

Encinias says in previous festivals, she's aimed to present diverse interpretations of flamenco, including groundbreaking avant-garde and upcoming artists.

She says this year there will be visionary artists such as Manuel Liñán, winner of the 2017 Spanish National Dance Prize; Estévez y Paños, winners of the 2019 Spanish National Dance Prize for Creation; as well as Mercedes de Córdoba and María Moreno, who push the boundaries of the art form.

"Rising stars such as Águeda Saavedra, winner of the 2022 Festival de Jerez Revelation Prize for best new artist, and Eduardo Guerrero, winner of the 2022 Lorca Prize for Best Male Dancer, bring visceral, evocative energy to the stage," she says. "Yinka Esi Graves performs in her critically acclaimed first solo work, 'The Disappearing Act.' "

The scheduled performances will be held at one of four venues — Albuquerque Journal Theatre at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, and University of New Mexico's Rodey and Experimental theatres, as well as late-night tablaos at Tablao Flamenco Albuquerque located inside of Hotel Albuquerque.

The festival also has events for children to participate in — the 25th annual Flamenco Kids Camp and the 5th annual Festival Juvenil.

Flamenco Kids Camp is a fun, immersive day camp introducing children ages 6-12 to the full range of flamenco arts and culture.

Festival Juvenil is the youth component of Festival Flamenco Alburquerque and the premier national flamenco camp for experienced young flamenco dancers ages 10-15.

Students take exclusive Festival Juvenil classes together as part of a cohort taught by Festival Flamenco Alburquerque guest artists.

Encinias says Festival Flamenco Alburquerque has something for everyone, including the "Flamenco in Your Neighborhood Series," featuring free classes and outdoor concerts produced in partnership with Bernalillo County, the city of Albuquerque, the Village of Los Lunas Parks and Recreation, and the Wildflower Playhouse (Taos).

The Exposición Flamenca Juvenil features a family-friendly Saturday morning of free performances by Flamenco Kids Campers, Festival Juvenil dancers, and local and national student performance groups at Albuquerque's Old Town Gazebo.

"This is an event for our New Mexico community to get world-class flamenco in their state," Encinias says. "We work hard to make it accessible. We're giving $75,000 worth of scholarships as well as free tickets to youth programs. It's a community event that we continue to grow because flamenco is a part of the fabric of life in New Mexico."