Albuquerque's Flamenco Festival

Road Journals Blog—In my next life I want to be a flamenco dancer. That was my conclusion after watching an evening of world-class flamenco dancers at Albuquerque’s Festival Flamenco this summer on a press trip. June 2012 marked the 25th anniversary of the festival, one of the largest outside Spain.

The Rodey Theatre was packed for the Friday night performance. I expected the dancers to do lots of foot stomping and hand clapping, and they did. Oh, but what amazing, sexy foot stomping and passionate hand clapping it was!

Rafael Campallo, flamenco dancer, image

Rafael Campallo performed at the Flamenco Festival. | Rafael Campallo

In my next life I want to be a flamenco dancer. That was my conclusion after watching an evening of world-class flamenco dancers at Albuquerque’s Festival Flamenco this summer on a press trip. June 2012 marked the 25th anniversary of the festival, one of the largest outside Spain.

The Rodey Theatre was packed for the Friday night performance. I expected the dancers to do lots of foot stomping and hand clapping, and they did. Oh, but what amazing, sexy foot stomping and passionate hand clapping it was!

The show had a number of performers, opening with a small troupe, but when the single performers took the stage, each with their own style, I got new insights into the world of flamenco. Across the back of the stage, guitarists and singers provided the music. During each performance, the guitarists watched the dancers, playing to them and with them. Singers called out to the performers in a lively interplay—praising, encouraging.

One of the first solo dancers, Pastora Galvan, moved with a powerful athletic, swaying, rhythmic dancing that was awe-inspiring. I have trouble keeping a hula hoop going, so watching her bend backwards at a parallel angle to the ground as she moved every which way left me slack-jawed. One of the journalists, who had spent time in Spain seeing flamenco dancing, was outraged at the twisting, emotional performance that defied what she thought was traditional dancing. I was enthralled.

The highlight of the evening for me was Rafael Campallo, a young dancer, whose style was the opposite of the dynamic athleticism of Pericet and yet mesmerizing. In a performance that in the beginning seemed subtle and understated, he exploded in a fury of arms and feet interspersed with calm moments when he walked about the stage before the next passionate storm. At one point he stopped and seductively rounded a shoulder after a particularly heated bout of fancy footwork, making the audience laugh.

At the end of his performance, all the dancers, musicians, and stage hands gathered on the stage and began an impromptu series of performances, some a bit bawdy, all fun, one with a dancer wearing flip flops.

Should you put June on your travel calendar and buy tickets way ahead of time for the Albuquerque Flamenco Festival next June? Absolutely.

National Institute of Flamenco

What festival surprised and delighted you?

This article was first published in August 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.