A group of dancers practicing flamenco in a studio together. Flamenco Works

Grantee Stories – Flamenco Works

A group of dancers practicing flamenco in a studio together. Flamenco Works

Dance instructors Jesús Muñoz and Amalyah Leader operate Flamenco Works, an Albuquerque dance studio that trains and empowers the next generation of Flamenco performers. It is both a school, offering classes to kids and adults, and a resident company that performs regularly with local and international dancers, musicians and artists.

In addition to flamenco classes, Flamenco Works also offers financial literacy workshops, arts administration apprenticeships and volunteer opportunities that the whole family can participate in. Volunteers recently came together to plant nopales and clean up nearby alleys.

Being active in the surrounding neighborhood and local community is extremely important to the organization’s leadership. “It’s not just getting on stage and that’s it,” said Muñoz. “You’re contributing to a city, to the place you live. That’s a big part of what we do.”

Flamenco Works recently relocated from the Barelas neighborhood to a larger site on Central Avenue in downtown Albuquerque. The new 4,500 square foot studio was a donation from a family of supporters.“We are particularly excited about being downtown, right on Central Avenue. It has taken years for this, and I know it will be our home for many years to come,” said Muñoz. “Everyone is seeing downtown change before their eyes, with its restaurants and nightclubs and coffee shops. Now there are little girls running down the street in flamenco skirts and parents and families hanging out. It’s bringing positivity to this part of the city. There’s a new energy that’s rippling out of downtown, inviting more people to become a part of this organization.”

Flamenco Works cherishes the notion of family. Muñoz encourages entire families to participate and welcomes every bit of help he can get. “Parents feel empowered to participate. It’s cool to see the parents involved, especially the dads! They help build and move things, and it becomes a family thing. Mothers started the organization, but now it’s fathers, sons, and grandmas getting involved. Maybe the daughter is dancing, but now the whole family is volunteering and showing up,” he said. “We have such a good community of parents, kids and students.”

Those family members were invaluable when it came to moving the studio and getting ready for opening night. “We had an army of volunteers there to help us, asking what they could do to help. Do you need this done? Do you need this painted? Do you need this moved? Our youngest students are 5 and 6 years old — they see everything that we do, and they are willing to help too.” After a challenging few years, Muñoz and Leader are delighted by the organization’s expansion and looking forward to building on their current success.

“2022 was a momentous year, coming out of the pandemic. We are a performance company, and it’s been an odd couple of years to be a performer and a performing artist,” said Leader. “The support of ACF, especially generously supporting us knowing that we haven’t been able to work the same way we have in the past was very much appreciated. We are coming into a place where all of this work — moving downtown, preparing for the summer series, performing again — is the result of supporting artists through a really tough time.”

Muñoz agrees. “We’re still feeling the effects of the pandemic. But we’re welcoming people back in. We’re really grateful to be back and able to perform, to be where we are and to do what we said we were going to do. We’re fulfilling the vision of what we really wanted the space to be.”