Emi Arte Flamenco
EmiArteFlamenco Skylight, June 28
Local dancer Emmy Grimm, known professionally as “La Emi,” has grown up in front of flamenco audiences in Santa Fe. A student of María Benítez’s from age four, she performed with Benítez’s Flamenco’s Next Generation, and then gained further experience with Juan Siddi, Antonio Granjero, and others during summer seasons at The Lodge, among other venues. Grimm traveled to Spain to continue her studies — a rite of passage for serious flamenco dancers — where Carmela Greco, the daughter of the legendary dancer José Greco, and a well-known dancer and teacher herself, was her host and mentor in Madrid. Greco joined La Emi onstage on June 28 for the first of a series of performances by EmiArteFlamenco at Skylight. It was an interesting opportunity to observe the effects of artistic lineage — so valued in flamenco.
The cast also included Vicente Griego, the powerful singer who is Grimm’s godfather and co-producer of the event, the dancer Nevarez Encinias, representing the youngest generation of the Encinias clan in Albuquerque (his grandmother, Eva EnciniasSandoval, established the National Institute of Flamenco), Antonio Gabarri Jiménez, Greco’s longtime guitarist from Madrid, Joshua Vigil, a local guitarist, and the Flamenco Youth de Santa Fe, the youth company of EmiArteFlamenco. It was an evening of strong dancing with more smiles than grimaces — there was a sense of joy dominating the angst that is often on display in flamenco.
La Emi performed a reworked version of the guajira ,a Cuban-influenced dance that gave her the opportunity to employ a fan, castanets, and a red dress with a long
cola or train. She easily maneuvered all these props, making them part of her encircling choreography. It seems right that she should wait a few years before offering the intense and dark dances that Benítez and Greco are known for. In the years La Emi has been performing the solo Guajira, her attack seemed clearer and her technique more exact than before. La Emi had a feminine, sensual presence, and the graceful use of her back and arms was almost balletic.
Greco, who stayed on stage assisting with palmas (percussive clapping, a traditional accompaniment to the music) while La Emi was performing, clearly has great affection for her protégé. The expression on her face was motherly and proud. Greco’s solo,
Taranto, had an earthy power. In an interview, she explained that the taranto is a form originally danced underground, in mines, and for her, has the profundity of deeply rooted trees. Flamenco is one of the few dance forms where age is revered. With her loose silver mane, which she whipped around the stage, Greco was a testament to a life lived through this powerful art. Partnering La Emi in the Tangos and dancing his own upbeat solo, the Alegrías, Nevarez Encinias was pulled up like a matador, displaying youthful bravado and impressive footwork. Vincente Griego’s vocals were gut-wrenching and emotional as always. Antonio Gabarri Jiménez and Joshua Vigil provided low-key, nonflashy work on the guitar.
EmiArteFlamenco offers Santa Fe a taste of the kind of close-knit, multigenerational company that aficionados of flamenco hunt for in Spain.
EmiArteFlamenco and the Flamenco Youth de Santa Fe perform at Spanish Market on July 29. EmiArteFlamenco returns to Skylight on Aug. 11 and Sept. 22. For a complete list of events, visit www.emiarteflamenco.com.
Nevarez Encinias and La Emi; photo Morgan Smith