El Pintor, An Original Flamenco Dance Drama at Maria Benitez Cabaret, July 21, 2008. Lodge of Santa Fe.

by Janet Eigner

Theresa Cardenas, Producer, in association with Maria Benitez & The Institute for Spanish Arts
Choreographer: Pablo Rodarte
Advisor: Maria Benitez
Composer & Music Director: Calvin Hazen
Musicians: Guitarists: Calvin Hazen, Ricardo Anglada
Percussionist & Singer: Francisco Javier Orozco “El Yiyi”
Singer: Vicente Griego “El Cartucho”
Dancers:      Adriana Maresma Fois, Maritza Montiel Tafur, Elena Osuna

Seldom has a flamenco production so successfully integrated another medium, the paintings of the 18th century Spanish artist, Julio Romero de Torres.  The production, produced and directed by Theresa Cardenas is based on the story of Romero’s favorite model, Teresa Maria Lopez, a 14 year old maid in the Romero’s household whom Romero transformed in his last work, La Chiquita Piconera, The Little Coal Girl, into a sensuous woman with sorrowful eyes.

The dance matched the images in the paintings, projected on a scrim at the back of the cabaret stage, matched the realistic and earthy portraits of this young servant and her friends.
Cardenas, a Santa Fe native, sought the mentoring of Taos native, Maria Benitez to write this impressionistic portrait of the painter’s muse.  A flamenca herself, Cardenas has spent past years in Spain, most recently studying with Antonio Hidalgo Paz in Cordoba.  Here she came across the work of the painter, de Torres, found inspiration in his images of the young, Andalusian woman, and began her research into the life of the model.

Cardenas then summoned one of New Mexico (and now Colorado’s) state treasures, Pablo Rodarte, a flamenco performer and teacher with decades of study and performance in Spain and the USA, and tours across the globe.
Rodarte’s choreography remains among the freshest in flamenco concepts. The rhythms and spaciousness, wit, lighting, and costumes in his work has a whiff of tropical ocean.  He distinguished himself in this production with modern dance movements integrated into the trio’s work, and with the eye of an artist who makes action flow ceaselessly, without the start and stop breaks that characterize more traditional flamenco.

Cardenas chose three distinguished and articulate dancers, all from the southwest, Adriana Maresma Fois, who has a world-wide dance career, launched with her UNM studies with Eva Encinias Sandoval, Pablo Rodarte, and in Santa Fe, with Benitez.  Maritza Montiel Tafur, after study with the same New Mexico mentors, directs Rodarte’s Albuquerque dance company, Dance Espana, and dances with Juan Siddi’s Flamenco company.  Elena Osuna, who launched her dance career after her degree studies at UNM with Encinias Sandoval, now dances with Joaquin Encinias’ company, Yjastros, in Albuquerque.
Calvin Hazen, another Taos native, composed and played the gentle and contemporary flamenco score.  Hazen’s original score was recorded in Madrid in 2004 with Antonio Hidalgo Paz and Cardenas as Artistic Directors.  The other three musicians, besides Hazen, include the other guitarrista, Ricardo Anglada, and Vicente Griego, the singer, both from Northern New Mexico. From Barcelona, Spain comes Francisco Javier Orozco, “El Yiyi”, percussionist and singer who tours worldwide.

If anyone doubts what kind of dance-related careers can develop on the New Mexico – Spanish flamenco beltway, with a lot of training, talent and a lot of hard work, lookie here.


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