“I feel that my mission should be to preserve the legacy of flamenco culture of Santa Fe that Maria Benitez had created, to the authenticity one would find in Spain,” says Antonio Granjero, an award-winning choreographer and the founder of the Santa Fe-based company Entreflamenco, which won a 2017 Mayor’s Arts Award.
“My ambition as a director, choreographer and performer is to present projects for the community to enjoy flamenco in its most authentic and purest form ranging from flamenco’s most traditional, unchanged form to its more modern, innovative side.”
Entreflamenco, which presents performances at its cabaret El Flamenco (135 W. Palace Ave.), was founded by Granjero in Spain in 1998. It’s directed by Granjero and his wife Estefania Ramirez, an accomplished dancer who studied theater and dance at the University of New Mexico.
“Antonio and I first met in 1996 when Antonio was a choreographer and principal dancer with Maria Benitez’s company and I left UNM to become a member of Maria’s company,” Ramirez explains. “Two years later, I ended up relocating to Spain to dance and teach.”
In 2005, Granjero and Ramirez bumped into each other in a restaurant at a train station in Seville as Ramirez was ordering coffee and Granjero was enjoying a beer. Granjero, who was working with Maria Benitez during the summers and touring with his own dance company the rest of the year, told Ramirez that Maria was looking for a new dancer for her company and encouraged Ramirez to inquire about the opportunity.
“I had a lot of work in Spain, which was quite unusual for an American dancer, but I decided to reach out to Maria’s husband since it meant I would be able to do solo work for Maria,” Ramirez explains.
Ramirez’s move back to the U.S. signaled a change in both her relationship with Granjero and the trajectory of her career. By 2007, the couple were married and Ramirez was sharing with stage with Granjero.
“We’re a collaboration,” Ramirez says. “Antonio choreographs, and I will stylize the movements.”
Granjero and Ramirez established Entreflamenco as a non-profit in 2013. Three years later, they opened El Flamenco as a permanent venue for their regularly scheduled Santa Fe performances. The couple, who have a 12-year old son Alejandro, present 100 shows a year in town, operate an outreach program in schools and teach flamenco to adults and children at their own facility.
“We follow the same traditional curriculum for teaching flamenco that one would find in a conservatory in Spain,” adds Ramirez. “There’s an order to learning flamenco, steps that must be followed. So many young people are not aware of the traditional steps necessary to properly learn flamenco. It’s been difficult for us to find dancers that are skilled enough to execute Antonio’s choreography.”
Right now, Granjero and Ramirez are the only dancers taking Entreflamenco’s stage. They are supported by a small ensemble of talented musicians.
Entreflamenco has been presenting summer, fall and winter seasons of performances in Santa Fe but will be offering a spring season beginning in 2019.
“I feel a great necessity to continue nurturing the professional artistry of flamenco to the caliber one could find in Spain, without having to cross the ocean,” Granjero says.
To purchase tickets to Entreflamenco’s December 14 through 31 performances and learn more about the company and its classes, visit entreflamenco.com