Flamenco is one of those music-based artforms that isn’t just about a sound. As local dancer Emily Grimm, aka La Emi, puts it, “We kind of have our own language and terminology, [and] we’re there to support one another; it’s teamwork.”
Grimm refers to the three basic components of flamenco: the guitarist, the singer and the dancer, the latter of which falls under her purview. Certainly most of Santa Fe has heard of EmiArte Flamenco, the local company founded by Grimm and her godfather, the illustrious guitarist Vicente Griego. What they don't know, however, is that it's the culmination of 20+ years of intensive training on Grimm's part and the realization of a lifelong dream.
Having grown up north of Santa Fe in Chamisal (which, by the way, is where celebrated Hispano folk musician Cipriano Vigil hangs his hat), Grimm bleeds New Mexico. "I'm proud to be from Northern New Mexico," she says without an ounce of sarcasm, "and my vision has always been to serve my community."
It's a vision that began when Grimm started lessons through Maria Benitez' Institute for Spanish Arts when she was barely 4 years old. Her father had worked the box office for flamenco events, and she says she wanted to be a flamenco dancer from as far back as she remembers.
"The way I like to think about it is that God puts us on this earth for a reason," Grimm says, "and this has always been my calling."
As such, Grimm would go on to receive lessons and participate in workshops wherever possible. It's a level of determination that also led to an upcoming dance apprenticeship in Spain (the homeland of flamenco) with celebrated master Carmela Greco. Grimm met Greco through her uncle and says she looks forward to her trip, not only as a means to improve her craft but because "flamenco is the ultimate expression of oneself."
But how does this all play out on a local level? For starters, by the time you read this, EmiArte will be smack-dab in the middle of its summer run of shows at Skylight. In addition to the choreography conceived by Grimm, the troupe welcomes celebrated flamenco guitarists Andres Vadin and Jorge Robledo alongside master dancer (and Grimm's cousin) Elena Osuna.
"It's something that we love to do and something that we love to share, and it's something that exists between and connects families," Grimm explains, practically shouting with excitement. "Santa Fe has been so welcoming for flamenco since day one, in my experience, and having studied in different areas of the country and the world, I can say that this will be some of the best flamenco you can see."
Grimm says that her event will be family-friendly and accessible for people of all tastes. Even those who are not familiar with the artform are encouraged to attend and learn something new.
"Let's say someone doesn't know much about what flamenco is," Grimm advises, "well, I want them to feel like they're coming with us on this kind of journey that tells them the story. … They'll be able to interpret it in their own individual ways."
Oh, and Skylight will also be serving up Spanish cuisine, so if you're one of these people for whom paella is a big deal, it might be worth it to go just for that. It's important to point out that even though La Emi is young, she displays a love for the music and dance of flamenco that knows no bounds. This is a seriously studied dancer who was not only born into a musical family, but who has cultivated a love and passion that extends well beyond her birthright. To put it another way, how much longer do you honestly suppose it will be that such a world-class dancer—the kind who receives apprenticeships in Spain—is going to hang around Santa Fe? This young woman could basically write her own ticket in life, and that's saying something.
8 pm Wednesday, June 29-Saturday, July 2. $15.
Skylight Santa Fe
139 W San Francisco St.