If there were such a thing as a city having a Flamenco Master General, it would certainly be Emily Grimm, aka La Emi. For decades now, Grimm has honed her flamenco skills at home and abroad, and now, with her EmiArte Flamenco studio dedicated to teaching and a number of summer performances lined up (8 pm Friday July 13, Saturday July 14 and Sunday July 15. $20-$50. The Lodge at Santa Fe, 750 N St. Francis Drive, 992-5800), we thought we'd see what's up.
How'd you get that nickname?
When I was born—my name is Emily Ruth Grimm, that's my birth certificate name—my mom and dad would always call me Emi. Since I was a few months old. Where I'm from in Northern New Mexico—my parents own a house in Chamisol—we'd say 'La Emi' or 'El David,' that's just kind of how we talked, and it just stuck. And I thought, what better stage name?
How did you know you wanted to or were ready to teach?
I actually started teaching when I was 12 years old in the Northern New Mexico public schools, and I guess I enjoyed it. It was definitely intimidating at first. At 15, I started teaching at the Maria Benitez Institute for Spanish Arts and at Moving Arts Española. I taught for several years, I would say close to 10, and I feel like God's plan kicked into play and everything pointed me in the direction of opening my own studio. I started traveling more and more more with dancing and, of course, they would have to have a teacher available at Maria's institute all year round, so I'd get back from my travels and they'd have teachers there [in my place]. So I wouldn't say I felt ready, but life shoved me out of the nest, and I really wanted to bring the community together.
For people who maybe don't know exactly what flamenco is, how do you get them out to the show?
Flamenco has the three big parts—more can come into play, but it's always a singer, a dancer and a guitarist. This summer, we'll have two singers: Vicente Griego, an incredible singer from Dixon, and the other singer is José Fernández, a gypsy from Granada. He's grown up doing flamenco since he was 9. Sometimes we have two guitarists, like Chuscales—what a high honor to have him there—and Eloy Gonzales, he's a young guy. This summer is a partnership with the National Institute of Flamenco, with [Joaquin] Encinas providing the artistic direction. In the show, we're going to have several different numbers from different artists and six core dancers who are female. Flamenco is an art of the people, and we really want people to experience the journey with us.