Alibi V.25 No.22 • June 2-8, 2016 

Culture Shock

New Tablao at Hotel Albuquerque

A destination for cultural and artistic immersion

When walking through the unassuming wooden doors to the new tablao at Hotel Albuquerque, one steps into a contemporary construct of elegance and worldly sophistication. In an original rendition of a Spanish tablao, The National Institute of Flamenco and Heritage Hotels and Resorts’ artistic teams have created a habitat indicative of the vast, diverse culture of Albuquerque. The tablao is a time-honored performance genre and venue type that emerged in Spain during the early 20th century. The medium relies heavily upon improvisation and requires a symbiotic relationship between musicians and dancers within an informal, club-like setting. Albuquerque’s tablao will be a place where locals and international visitors alike can have a one-of-a-kind experience as expert dancers spontaneously respond to the changing rhythms of guitarists and singers. “The quality of entertainment will be phenomenal … the ability to dance in this setting requires advanced skill,” commented Marisol Encinias, one of the founders and co-directors of NIF. Performers don’t rehearse before they go on stage at a tablao as they would for a theater performance with set choreography. As opposed to dancing in a choreographed piece, “dancing in a tablao requires [more] possession of artistic and emotional maturity,” said NIF’s Yjastros company dancer, Giovanna Hinojosa.

The site of Albuquerque's tablao is not a standard replica of the Spanish version of a tablao, rather it is an elevated appropriation—featuring exquisite design down to the most minute detail. NIF, in collaboration with Hotel Albuquerque, have constructed a layout that conflates traditional tablao intimacy with the high-production value of a performance space. “Raw materiality of early flamenco and Spanish-colonial aesthetic influenced [our] design choices," said the tablao's interior designer, Adriana Long.

Joaquin Encinias, another of the founders and co-directors of NIF, asserts that the tablao is truly unique on an international level. “We don’t have anything like this in Albuquerque, or in this country for that matter,” he said. The upscale, lounge-type environment appeals to both the local community and tourist market, merging the two to create a destination for the arts that is progressive and exciting. “Our mission is to preserve and advance the culture of New Mexico and the Southwest, providing a place where flamenco can survive and evolve,” said Maresa Thompson, Creative Director at Heritage Hotels and Resorts.

Just in time for the 29th Annual Festival Flamenco, the tablao opens June 10 at Hotel Albuquerque in Old Town. Festival guest artists from around the nation and around the world will baptize the newly-constructed tablao with music and dance, bringing the city into the 29th Festival Flamenco Internacional.

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