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Rhythm Nights: Sol y Arena and DanceSport ensembles to perform three concerts this weekend

Leora Zeitlin

Flamenco dancer and teacher Frank “Paco Antonio” Gilpin first heard flamenco music when he was a dance student at UNM, and immediately enrolled in a flamenco class. “This was really hard,” he said, but he soon realized “this is my passion. I’m going to discover some way to do this.” Gilpin went to study with flamenco masters in Spain, and has been bringing his passion, talent and skill to the stage and to his students ever since.

This weekend, the “Sol y Arena” ensemble, which he directs with his wife Lucilene de Geus, will perform three concerts  with the NMSU DanceSport team, presenting flamenco and a variety of ballroom dances. There are numerous different flamenco “palos” or forms, Gilpin explained, and he and his wife try to make sure his students master ten of them by the time they graduate. As he teaches, he said, “You’re building so many layers: their feet, and then it works into the upper body and their arms, and then, ‘Please look where you’re going to go, yes?—the focus—and you have to have the feeling you’re trying to express.”

In this interview with Intermezzo host Leora Zeitlin, Gilpin also talks about the origins of the Spanish dance form, process of choreographing flamenco dances, and a trip his students will take to Spain this June. The Rhythm Nights concerts are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and a Saturday matinee at 2:30 p.m. at Rentfrow Hall on the NMSU campus.

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