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 Jun 7 - 13, 2018 
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Arts Interview

Palmas and Poetry

Vanesa Coloma's homage to a golden age kicks off Flamenco Festival

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Vanesa Coloma
Vanesa Coloma brings a new golden age of flamenco to the stage as part this year’s Festival Flamenco Internacional de Albuquerque
Celina Yeyén
To watch Vanesa Coloma dance—especially in her show Flamenklórica—is to see an innovator flexing skilled creative muscle. Mesmerizing footwork is woven between spoken word, expressive cante underlining every flourish of her hands, each purposeful whir of dress or the slightest change in the intensity of her expression. Known for showcasing inventive, original works by contemporary flamenco superstars, the Festival Flamenco Internacional de Albuquerque begins its 31st iteration on Saturday, June 9 with a performance of Compañía Vanesa Coloma's expansive work Flamenklórica, which bridges influential time periods, bringing together tonadillas—a theatrical style of Spanish song—with the art of folkloricas (individuals who blended poetry and performance) and the raw power of flamenco. This original work honors a time when flamenco was closely bound with these other art forms, once again marrying them to create on-stage magic that feels intimate.

Coloma will perform at the Rodey Theatre on UNM's campus at 8pm. A host of other artists will visit Albuquerque for the festival—hosting workshops and bringing big-stage performances. Special tablaos will happen late nights at Hotel Albuquerque. A full schedule, along with tickets, is available at ffiabq.org.

Vanesa Coloma
Vanesa Coloma brings a new golden age of flamenco to the stage as part this year’s Festival Flamenco Internacional de Albuquerque
Celina Yeyén

Alibi: What makes this festival special in the world of flamenco?

Coloma: The Albuquerque Festival is special in the first place for the great Encinias family, without them this wouldn't be possible, and for their outstanding love and respect for the art of flamenco. Also, especially for the amount of aficionados who come to enjoy and share in the festival!

Tell me about your show, Flamenklórica. Is it inspired by flamenco's past?

Yes, it is inspired by the era of flamenco in which flamenco and the Spanish tonadilla shared the same prominence. The show nods to a very memorable artistic period where poetry, the artists themselves and their grand personalities, left us an unmatched legacy that we remember today as the golden age of flamenco.

Why do you love flamenco, and when did you begin dancing?

I've loved flamenco since I was a very little girl, having heard it in my house from my father. ... [The dance] captures you and enamors you, and that guarantees a love for all your life. I began when I was really little. At age 4 I was already taking my first classes, and now here we are.

Compañía Vanesa Coloma
The Compañía Vanesa Coloma ushers in the 31st annual Festival Flamenco Internacional de Albuquerque

What was your inspiration for Flamenklórica?

A few years ago, I premiered a small piece also called Flamenklórica, the point of departure [for that piece] was an artist among artists, Gabriela Ortega, [from the] Familia de Caracol [a famous family of flamenco dancers and singers]. She was a woman who was poetry. ... She recited poetry, she danced ... and it was most important to feel and exude this [in the performance]. I have always loved the folkloricas, and that's why I named my show Flamenklórica. The flamencas and the folkloricas were always together in the golden age of flamenco. Where there was a folklorica, there was a flamenca, and vice versa. In the cuadros and the cafés cantantes [flamenco bars/cafes], they recited poetry, they danced rumbas. Those artists ... have a very personal stamp, and [they] ... have moved me since I was little. I love the art of Lola Flores, La Terremoto and Gabriela Ortega. For this show I didn't want to dance flamenco only. Instead I wanted to honor these artists as "flamenklóricas." I think that's what it is, this mix. ... I decided to unite them because each one contains so much of the other.

What do you hope audiences take away from your performance?

I hope that they really enjoy it, as much as I have, and that it will enter their hearts.

What did you learn during the creation of Flamenklórica?

So many things. ... First, I learned to enjoy the process of creation, of art, of my team. While creating the work, I went about things in a very natural way because I was clear about what I wanted to do from the beginning: To remember the folkloricas, to recite poetry on the stage, et cetera. And to do it with all of my personality. It wasn't a sacrifice, nor a challenge, but an expression of feeling from my heart.

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