Blazing flamenco

The heart, soul and spirit of Gypsy flamenco returns to The Taos Inn


Capturing the drama and sensuality of the dance, the show "Flamenco with Mina Fajardo" will take the stage Saturday (May 6) from 6:30-9:30 p.m. in the Adobe Bar at The Taos inn, 125 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. Admission is free.

The concert will feature renowned flamenco guitarist Chuscales, Mina Fajardo as principal dancer and Alejandro Valle as percussionist. Other performers are dancer Monze Diaz and Fiesta Flamenco dancers Heather Miro, Seri Kotowski, Marnie Rose, Wendy Young, Carol Bearden, Rachel Valera, Melisa Clarklind and Charles Brunn.

It will be the first of a series of monthly performances at the Taos Inn.

"This time, we will have a regular tablao show because my students in Taos want to dance some numbers," said Fajardo, who teaches flamenco dance through Northern New Mexico College Continuing Education Program at Taos Youth Ballet. "We will have alegrías, sevillanas, fandangos de Huelva, seguiriya, tangos and rumbas, solea for bulerías, tarantos and a lot more."


José Luis Valle Fajardo, known as "Chuscales," is a composer and virtuoso flamenco guitarist. A native of Antequera, Spain, he comes from a long line of professional flamenco dancers and musicians who lived and performed in Las Cuevas de Sacromonte, a traditional Gypsy area of Granada.

It was his grandfather who gave him the name "Chuscales."

"In Caló, the language of the Spanish Gypsies, 'chusco' means the crunchy end of a loaf of bread," explained his wife, Mina Fajardo Shibata-Valle. "Chuscales, or Chusco for short, refers to a person who is a 'guitar-cruncher.'"

He has toured with the dance companies of Mario Maya, Jose Greco, Juan Siddi and Maria Benitez, among others.

"In fact, Chuscales came to New Mexico for the first time when he was working as the music director for Maria Benitez 35 years ago," Fajardo said.

Chuscales, Fajardo and their children settled in Santa Fe in 2001.

"We left New York and have never looked back," she said. "We loved it here."

Chuscales has performed with the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra, Maria Benitez Teatro Flamenco, Juan Siddi Flamenco Santa Fe and the Tucson Flamenco Festival, among other venues. He has taught at Santa Fe Community College, the National Institute of Flamenco, The Institute for Spanish Arts, Dartmouth University, the University of New Mexico, the Minneapolis Guitar Society and others.

Among his awards are the Isadora Duncan Dance Award in 1997 for composition/arrangement and direction and a nomination in 2011 in the category of music/sound/text. He also received the Dora Mavor Moore Award nominations from the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts in 2010, 2009 and 2007 for outstanding sound design and composition.

In 2009, Chuscales performed for the crown prince and princess of Spain during the celebrations of Santa Fe's 400th anniversary.

A flamenco love story

Principal dancer Fajardo is a native of Japan. Until she was 20 years old, she danced classical ballet, tap and jazz and studied and danced between Tokyo and New York City.

Her first encounter with flamenco happened after she graduated from Hokkaido University College of Medical Technology.

"When I was working at the hospital in Tokyo, I met a patient who had colon cancer," Fajardo said. "She was a flamenco dancer and invited me to one of her performances after she was released. When I saw her dance, still with her stomach bag … it made me cry! After I saw her performance, I switched my interest and began to dance only flamenco."

Fajardo met Chuscales in New York City when she was dancing at Tablao National about 19 years ago.

"I was dancing with La Tibu, a famous singer, and he came to see the show," she said. "It was love at first sight!"

The bicultural couple has four children -- Alejandro, Gabriele, Ismael and Maria. Alejandro will be part of the Adobe Bar show.

Fajardo has taught at Eva Encinias Sandoval's National Institute of Flamenco, the Spanish Institute of Dance in Houston, the Maria Benitez Institute for Spanish Arts, Northern New Mexico University, Santa Fe Community College and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce in New York City, among other places. Fajardo and Chuscales have appeared in several films.

"Flamenco is our life," Fajardo said. "We couldn't live without it."

Fajardo's Taos flamenco troupe

Miro has been studying flamenco for around 10 years, first with the late master Teo Morca, then with Adair Landborn and more recently with Fajardo. Miro said that she used to have "terrible stage fright."

"Mina helped me get through it," she said. "She is a great instructor. Now I have a lot more fun. Dancing flamenco is intense, like having a wild ride, but I always enjoy it."

At the Taos Inn show, she will dance fandangos de Huelva, alegrías, sevillanas and bulerías.

Varela is another dancer in Fajardo's troupe. She has been studying flamenco for five years - here and in Spain. She plans to perform bulerías, sevillanas and alegrías. "I love how everybody comes together during the performance and we all raise the vibration of the space," Varela said. "That's the magical energy of flamenco."

For more information, call the venue at (575) 758-2233.