EMMY GRIMM’S FIRST MEMORY IS OF FLAMENCO—watching legendary dancer María Benítez onstage in Santa Fe. Her father, David Grimm, was Benítez’s box office manager; Emmy had been coming to Benítez performances almost since she was born. “I just felt this calling,” she says. “I was thinking, I have to dance.” Performing as La Emi, she is a flamenco dancer through and through. The art is her joy and livelihood. She stars in shows at the María Benítez Cabaret at the Lodge at Santa Fe, runs the EmiArteFlamenco Academy to teach others, works with choreographers in Spain, and visits its capital, Madrid, frequently to spend time steeping in the culture of flamenco and Spanish dance. Earlier this year, Grimm mounted a new show, Herencia Flamenca (Flamenco Heritage), featuring fresh choreography, custom costumes, and specially designed light screens.
I STARTED GOING to María Benítez’s group classes when I was four years old. I joined her youth company, Flamenco’s Next Generation, at 10. You had to audition to get in. It was a big deal.
WE PERFORMED right on the stage at the María Benítez Cabaret during the summers, and now I am dancing here, at 31. It’s really amazing. It has come full circle.
THE STAGE IS A SACRED PLACE, and it has to be honored in that way. Every day I show up and do my absolute best.
FLAMENCO is an expression of the human experience.
WE GET TO EXPRESS every emotion we experience in life. Sometimes that’s joy and happiness, but sometimes that’s pain and suffering, and feeling completely broken.
FLAMENCO WAS BORN among the family and became a tradition that grandparents handed down to their children and their children’s children. It was something people did in their homes. It wasn’t made for the theater, like ballet. It was born on the streets and of the people. It had very beautiful grassroots beginnings.
THE THREE ELEMENTS OF FLAMENCO are the singer, the dancer, and the guitarist. The dancer expresses with their movement, the singer with their voice, and the guitarist with their hands. Everyone gets to take who they are and transmit that in their arte.
DANCE DOES THINGS for you that go beyond the stage. I’ve seen it in my dance academy. It gives you discipline, it gives you confidence, it humbles you, and it gives you the drive to always do your best. It feeds your soul.
THE VISION OF EMIARTE FLAMENCO is to provide year-round work for flamenco artists in New Mexico. I am proud to be from New Mexico, and I want to support fellow New Mexicans who make a living at this art form.
CREATING THIS NEW SHOW in 2022 was a really big push. We wanted to try new things and push ourselves creatively. We wanted to have traditional flamenco, but we want to expand and include modern elements like danza española, which is a combination of ballet, flamenco, and folklore.
MY SOLO NUMBER that opens the second set is called Reminiscencia. It’s a dream recounting a love story. I want to take the audience on a journey.
IT WAS SUCH A HIGH HONOR when the New Mexico Governor’s Mansion Foundation said they wanted to feature me on our state Christmas ornament in 2019. The picture is of me dancing in a show when I was about 15. I am wearing my favorite dress—one I bought from María Benítez. I got an ornament for my parents, and it hangs on our Christmas tree.
DURING THE HOLIDAYS, Santa Fe is full of visitors. We really want people to come and experience a taste of New Mexico. Flamenco is a huge part of our culture.
WE OPEN OUR HEARTS, and we want people to come and feel it.