About La Juerga Flamenco
La Juerga was formed in 2008 by flamenco guitarist, Alejandro Pais Iriart in Albuquerque, NM. After seeing the lack of venues offering flamenco on a weekly and/or monthly bases, in a city were flamenco has become a strong subculture of the region, he decided to start contacting venues in the area to offer flamenco shows presenting mainly the local artists. Within the year, a number of venues were on board, and offering flamenco shows at least once a month if not once a week, thus creating a circuit for local flamenco artist and aficionados to perform and enjoy flamenco in an intimate setting. After Illeana Gomez joined him in 2009, they started expanding to newer cities, like Santa Fe and Taos, as well as Laredo, TX (Illeana Gomez's home town). These endeavors opened up the opportunity to start taking on bigger venues, and to reach out to a broader professional flamenco community, thus opening the possibility to work in projects with flamenco artists from all around the country. In 2015 they moved to Austin, TX where they started working with local venues just as they did in New Mexico, to provide opportunities around Austin and San Antonio to the flamenco community. They opened up new performance spaces and reinvigorated venues that already offered flamenco by infusing them with new local talents, as well as bringing the best artists that the entire country has to offer like: Jose Cortes, Manuel Gutierrez, Diego "El Negro" Alvarez, Chuscales, Carlos Menchaca, Kayla Lyall, and Kina Mendez, to name a few. These experiences along with numerous trips to Spain, sparked the idea to begin to work not only on a local and national level but on international level with flamenco artist, especially from Spain.
Alejandro and Illeana now live in Madrid, Spain, where they work in various tablaos and theaters, and continue to travel to the U.S. on a regular bases, where they perform, teach and produce events in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Some of the more exciting projects they will be embarking upon in 2019 include: "PRENDIDOS" a show featuring two of the most renowned artist of today: Alfonso Losa and Vanesa Coloma. this production will take part in Laredo and Houston, Texas. As performers, Alejandro and Illeana will be performing in the Mozaic festival, in San Luis Obispo, California.
Alejandro Pais Iriart
Alejandro Pais Iriart was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the neighborhood of La Boca. Music, the guitar in particular, has always been a part of Alejandro’s life. After moving to New Mexico at the age of fourteen, Alejandro studied guitar at Highland High School under Paul Nilsson. After seeing his talent for bossanova, tango, and other folkloric music, Nilsson introduced him to his next mentor, Luis Campos, a flamenco and classical guitar teacher who taught him some of the basics. Shortly after graduating high school, he began playing as an assistant instructor at the University of New Mexico, under Eva Encinias-Sandoval. Alejandro has taught himself the music of flamenco guitarists such as Sabicas, Paco de Lucia, Diego del Gastor, Moraito, among others, but he has also studied intensively with maestro Pedro Cuadra. He has also had the opportunity to take various classes with such artist like Miguel Iglesias, Jesus de Rosario, El Entri, Alfredo Lagos, El Perla, and Canito, among others.
He has worked and toured with companies such as the Juan Siddi Flamenco Theater Company, Antonio Granjero’s flamenco company, Edwin Aparicio’s flamenco company, and with maestro Alejandro Granados, and has performed in such theaters as the Joyce Theater (NY), and Jacob’s pillow dance festival (MA).
In 2014, Alejandro resided in Seville, Spain, where he got the chance to share wonderful memories accompanying the legendary flamenco poet, Manuel Molina, and studied intensively with maestro Ramon Amador. This same year, his restless desire for learning more, brought him to the realization of putting together a flamenco/jazz ensemble in Albuquerque (NM) with his good friend Jesse Montijo, called Jazz’stamos.
Alejandro currently resides in Madrid, Spain where he continues his studies with maestro El Viejin (living legend of the flamenco guitar of Madrid). On March of 2019 he performed in a homage to Perlita de Huelva where he accompanied his good friend and singer Israel Paz, and he got the opportunity to share the stage with Pepe Habichuela, Estrella Morente, Argentina, Montoyita, among others. He works in various tablaos along side artists like Alejandro Granados, Juan Triviño, Juañares, “La Coneja”, Angel Gabarre, Eva La Lebri, and Inmaculada Aranda to name a few.
His work, not just as a guitarist, but also as a producer for La Juerga continues to thrive, traveling regularly to the U.S. to take some of the best artist of the era to various destinations of the country.
Illeana Gomez began her dance studies at a young age, studying ballet and classical Spanish dance at the Alta Gracia Garcia school and the Mina Gutierrez Hachar dance school in Laredo, Texas. In 2003, she got her first taste of professional performance, performing with the groups Flamenco Fuego de San Antonio, and Tierra Adentro Cuadro Flamenco. Since then, she has pursued intensive flamenco studies, traveling to Spain frequently to study at Amor de Dios school in Madrid with Alfonso Losa, Jose Maya, Alejandro Granados, El Güito, Maria Juncal, to name a few, or at various schools in Seville where she studied with such artist like Juan Manuel Montoya “Farruquito,” Carmen Ledesma, El Oruco, and Andres Marin. In 2006, Illeana moved to Albuquerque, NM to study at the Conservatory of Flamenco Arts where she soon became a member of Alma Flamenca, then, Yjastros: the American Flamenco Repertory Company. That year, Illeana got accepted to the MFA program at UNM where she studied with Eva Encinias- Sandoval. In May 2010, she was awarded an MFA in dance.
She has also worked teaching at the University of New Mexico, the Institute for Spanish Arts, the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, and Austin Flamenco Academy.
Illeana has gained professional experience working in various companies including Yjastros: The American Flamenco Repertory Company, the Juan Siddi Flamenco Theater Company, Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana, and Teatro flamenco of San Francisco, and has had the opportunity to perform in such theaters and the Joyce in New York as well as performing in the dance festival at Jacob’s Pillow. Throughout her experience working with U.S. companies she has had the opportunity to have shared the stage with such artists as Juana la del Pipa, Pastora Galvan, Jose Valle "Chuscales," Jesule de Utrera, Manuel Gutierrez, Jose Cortes, Saray Muñoz, amongst others.
Currently, Illeana resides in Madrid, Spain where she continues to refine her craft and artistry with her flamenco maestros, as well as performing regularly in tablaos and theaters along side such artists as Lucky Losada, Ivan Losada, Enrique el “Piculabe, ” Saul Quiros, y “el Mistela" . She most recently performed in Teatro la Latina along side a cast including Gema Moneo, Carrete de Malaga, Tomasito, and Antonio Canales to name a few. In August, 2018 she was awarded third place in the Concurso National de Baile por Alegrias .