The Lodge at Santa Fe, Aug. 9
Stomping feet and shuffling venues? It’s flamenco season in Santa Fe. The dancers from Albuquerque’s National Institute of Flamenco formerly appeared at El Farol, the Canyon Road restaurant and bar, which has new ownership and is undergoing renovation. They can currently be found at the María Benítez Cabaret Theatre, located in The Lodge at Santa Fe. Entreflamenco, a group who used to appear at the Benítez Theatre, are performing at their own space on Palace Avenue. Skylight, the nightclub where La Emi has created a regular flamenco event, closed and then reopened on a more limited basis earlier this year. Will the show go on there? And Juan Siddi’s fortunes have changed dramatically since his sponsoring relationship with the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet soured. He has one more night at the Lensic Performing Arts Center this summer. After that? One can only wonder.
Flamenco at The Lodge offers a rotating cast of performers loosely connected with Institute. Two of the four headliners, Marisol and Joaquin Encinias, are adult children of the Institute’s founder, Eva Encinias-Sandoval. Nevarez Encinias, also dancing in the production, is Joaquin’s son. Yjastros, the resident flamenco repertory company at UNM, has always been a showcase for the choreographic talent and directing abilities of Joaquin Encinias, who is on the faculty there (along with his sister and mother). His take on the traditional form is fresh, informed by the spatial tendencies of group work in ballet and modern dance, but always grounded in classical flamenco. His direction was evident in the cohesion, attack, and artistry of the dancers at The Lodge.
On Aug. 9, two visiting stars, Belén de la Quintana and Pedro Córdoba, both from Madrid, demonstrated their edgy, big-city style of flamenco. Flamenco in Madrid is known to be more experimental and caffeinated than the traditional style found in the south. Musicians at The Lodge included singer Raúl Levia, from Barcelona, the inimitable local singer and music director Vicente Griego, and longtime resident of Spain, guitarist Calvin Hazen. Joaquin Encinias, in a non-dancing role, played the cajón (box drum). Other dancers included La Emi and Alisa Alba.
With the exception of the solos by the two guest artists, the dances on the program were summer-light and crowd-pleasing. The title of the opening piece, Jáleo (choreographed by Córdoba), refers to the traditional banter furnished by flamenco audiences during a performance. It was an introduction to the entire cast, but also a demonstration of the ability of the dancers to work as a team.
Caña, choreographed by Nino de los Reyes, was a sensual duet for Alba and the younger Encinias. Cantiñas, choreographed by Concha Jareño, opened with two female dancers, Grimm and Alba, dressed in emerald green gowns, wrapped in each other’s fabric trains (colas in Spanish). There was a bit of a Siamese-twin theme throughout the piece. Watching the dancers hurl their long trains around the stage was half the show.
De la Quintana closed the first part of the show with a ferocious solo. She was dressed in layers of fabric filled with polka dots, but danced as if her costume were skin-tight black velvet. The extreme focus and intensity with which she approached her dancing, and the choreography, which alternated between being pulled-up and haughty and low to the ground in the style of African dance, was unlike anything seen on stage in Santa Fe in recent memory.
Córdoba was loud. His solo focused more on footwork than foreplay. He sported hipster facial hair, and his boot-slamming style offered extreme punctuation on flights of staccato toe and heel work. He lacked a certain grace, but his stomping showed a male take on musicality, adding booming percussion to the swirling mix of guitar, voice, and clapping. — Michael Wade Simpson
Flamenco at The Lodge at Santa Fe (750 N. St. Francis Drive) continues Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. through Sept 2. For tickets, call 505-988-1234 or www.visit ticketssantafe.org.