When I was a teenager living on a ranch in western Colorado, I discovered a record entitled  Alegrías y Penas de Andalucía that my father had brought home from a business trip to Spain. It featured a guitar player named Luis Maravilla—who, by sheer coincidence, I met and befriended some 40 years later—and a singer named Pepe Valencia. I listened over and over again, and the record brought to life my love of flamenco.

Having never had much musical talent, my instrument has been the camera, my goal to promote flamenco in general, but also to assist artists with photos they might use to promote their art.

I approached SFR in that vein, but their idea was different and much more rewarding: Focus on younger artists who are in the early stages of their careers.

As a result, I've come to know these five young artists, and though their backgrounds and levels of experience are all very different, they are united by a love of and dedication to flamenco. Whatever the outcome of my work here, it has been a great honor to come to know these dancers, and I wish them all the best in the future.

Janira Cordova (24)

Janira Cordova
Janira Cordova | Morgan Smith

"I started dancing with Maria Benitez when I was 5 and began performing with her youth company, Flamenco's Next Generation, when I was 8. I've now graduated from [the University of New Mexico] with a degree in speech and hearing sciences and am working as a therapist for children with autism. I always found myself intrigued by flamenco. It allows for a woman to be graceful and delicate while being strong and forceful. I also think I chose flamenco because I am a storyteller. And that is a huge part of flamenco—it tells a story."

Janira Cordova at a Teatro Paraguas performance last December
Janira Cordova at a Teatro Paraguas performance last December | Morgan Smith

Sveta Backhaus (13)

Sveta Backhaus
Sveta Backhaus | Morgan Smith

"I'm from Española and started dancing with Moving Arts Española when I was 2-and-a-half years old. We learned folklorico as well as classical and modern ballet and gymnastics. It wasn't until the summer of 2018 when I discovered flamenco. My goal now is to graduate from the National Institute of Flamenco in Albuquerque and dance in Spain."

Sveta Backhaus dances at Teatro Paraguas
Sveta Backhaus dances at Teatro Paraguas | Morgan Smith

Alejandro Granjero (13)

Alejandro Granjo
Alejandro Granjo | Morgan Smith

Born in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, also known as the birthplace of flamenco, Alejandro's goal in life is to become a professional dancer and musician.

"Flamenco is part of my culture," he says. His parents are Antonio Granjero and Estefania Ramirez, the founders of Entreflamenco here in Santa Fe and professional dancers themselves.

Alejandro Granjo and Clementine West at an Entreflamenco student recital
Alejandro Granjo and Clementine West at an Entreflamenco student recital | Morgan Smith

Alyssa Trujillo-Duran (13)

Alyssa Trujillo-Duran and Clementine West
Alyssa Trujillo-Duran and Clementine West | Morgan Smith

While at the Santa Fe Girls School, Duran met Antonio Granjero and Estefania Ramirez and has now been dancing with them for four years. She hopes to study flamenco in college and abroad and is an animal lover who completed a two-week Wrangler in Training program."It is difficult to explain how I feel when I dance flamenco with my friends," she says. "All I can say is that I've never felt as happy doing any other activity. Dancing calms my soul and allows me to express myself using everything I'm wearing and everything within me."

Clementine West (13)

Clementine West
Clementine West | Morgan Smith

"I have always been a dancer, but when I first saw flamenco I fell in love. Flamenco is so emotional and strong. It enchants you and you fall in love with it. I just started in the fall of 2017 but in the future I hope I will be able to dance flamenco professionally."