A UNM and greater Albuquerque dancing powerhouse is receiving well-deserved, national recognition.

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has named National Institute of Flamenco (NIF) Director Eva Encinias as a recipient of the NEA National Heritage Fellowship.

As a National Heritage Fellow, Encinias was honored at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C., on Friday, Sept. 29.

Although she is a 2022 fellow, due to the pandemic, Encinias and fellow awardees were not able to be fully recognized for their commitment to the arts.

Eva with medal
Eva Encinias receives medal

The NEA National Heritage Fellowship is the nation's highest honor in folk and traditional arts. Each year since 1982, the program recognizes recipients' artistic excellence, lifetime achievement, and contributions to our nation's traditional arts heritage.

“As a dancer and instructor, Encinas’ tenacity has rippled through generations,” the NEA said.

In 1982 Encinias founded the NIF as well as the Conservatory of Flamenco Arts, and Festival Flamenco Alburquerque. She has taught flamenco through UNM and beyond for over 40 years, and is a proud Professor Emeritus in the College of Fine Arts (CFA.)

“Eva developed flamenco as an art form by breaking down the essential tenets of the art to create an accessible, rigorous curriculum,” the NIF said. “As a key figure in enriching the New Mexican cultural landscape, Eva has been a catalyst for developing flamenco as an art form in New Mexico through performance, teaching, and community advocacy. Through Eva’s work, Albuquerque is widely recognized as the epicenter of flamenco in the United States.”

The lifelong flamenco artist has always been passionate about passing flamenco’s beauty onto the next generation. Encinias was instrumental in creating the Flamenco Concentration Program in CFA’s Department of Theatre and Dance, the only dance program in the world with a flamenco concentration in a degree program.

"Receiving this award has had such an impact not only on me but also my community. The wonderful people of our city and state are so supportive of our work, but when they see me and my efforts being acknowledged nationally it reaffirms how wonderful it is to have the presence of such a powerful art form to enjoy and appreciate," Encinias said. "I want the mention that I’ve had tremendous help along the way and there is still so much work to do.  I want to be part of the effort as long as possible."

Although she retired in 2021, Encinias is still a core member and instructor of the NIF. Her daughter, Marisol Encinias is currently the executive director of NIF, and is also a UNM professor.

“It is great to see my mother recognized on a national level for the important work she has done in her lifetime, and the work she continues to do,” Marisol Encinias said.

The NIF is incredibly proud of Encinias. Learn more about the incredible programs, performances and partnerships all underway right now at the National Institute of Flamenco. UNM's Yjastros: The American Flamenco Repertory Company's fall concert “Xicano Power” at the National Hispanic Cultural Center on Nov. 10 and 11.