Valeria Montes “La Chispa”
*2010 Winner of the prestigious Kresge Artist fellowship for Performing Arts*
Valeria Montes has been described as “mesmerizing” by the Detroit Free Press and “beauty in motion” by the Metro Times. She is known as La Chispa (the Spark) for her passionate and vibrant interpretation of Cante Flamenco (flamenco song) and for her complex rhythmic zapateado.
Born in Mapimi, Dgo., Mexico, Montes began her dance studies at the age of five in her native Mexico studying ballet, baile folklorico, and gymnastics. At age of 20, she moved to Michigan, USA where she started dancing Spanish classical dance with local instructor, Maria Del Carmen Montes. Eventually, Montes moved to Spain to immerse herself in the world of flamenco and was very fortunate to study with legendary families and artists of flamenco: Farruco Family, Carmen Ledesma, Concha Vargas, and Miguel Vargas. She has also studied cante flamenco with Esperanza Fernandez, which she feels is vital for dancers to do in order to understand the art form in a more profound way.
In 2010, Montes won the prestigious Kresge artist fellowship for Performing Arts. She is co-founder of the Center of Music and Performing Arts Southwest (COMPAS) where she continues to teach community workshops in Michigan. Valeria now serves as Executive and Artistic Director of Casa Flamenca in Albuquerque, NM where she is also a full-time instructor.
An attorney in private practice, Jason Marks was elected and served two terms as New Mexico Public Regulation Commissioner for District 1 (Albuquerque area), 2005 – 2012. The Albuquerque Journal called him the ” hardest worker” on the PRC, with a “keen analytical intelligence” and repeatedly recognized Marks as the voice of public accountability and ethics on the Commission. New Mexico Capitol Report said he was a “powerhouse” after he single-handedly saved customers $13 million a year on PNM rates.
Prior to being elected to the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, Marks had an extensive career in healthcare finance and rate setting. After serving as Hospital Programs Manager for Oregon Medicaid, he joined Myers and Stauffer LC, a mid-sized accounting firm, where he became a Principal and led a national consulting practice extending to 20 states and the federal government.
He is a legislatively-appointed consumer representative on the NM Insurance Superintendent Nominating Committee, a Supreme Court appointee to the State Bar’s Client Protection Fund Commission, and a founding board member of Casa Flamenca, Inc. Marks has a Bachelors degree from Reed College and a law degree from the University of New Mexico. He and his wife Maxine live on Albuquerque’s Westside.
Shortz retired from Hastings International as the assistant to the VP of Hasting’s International marketing campaigns featuring creation and/or final edits of covers for movies, books, CD albums and all other things marketing. Shortz currently resides in Albuquerque, NM and now owns his boutique design studio and fine art printing shop called 10,000 cranes studio. Shortz shoots and prints for visual artists as well as designing websites and marketing material for non-profit businesses such as Wheels Museum and Casa Flamenca in Old Town to large-scale production of work for corporations such as Sandia Labs and the Simms Building. Shortz’s expertise has led him to be a sought after photographer, web designer and overall marketing expert. Shortz has been on Casa Flamenca’s board since 2010 and Bruce’s focus at the Casa Flamenca is to create and finalize Casa Flamenca’s design, copy and image branding for Casa Flamenca, Inc and Jesus Muñoz Flamenco.
Anne Marie Matherne
Matherne is a Hydrologist and Grant reviewer for the University of New Mexico Sciences Department. Matherne’s specialty at Casa Flamenca is to help develop compelling and cohesive statements of the organization’s ongoing and future projects and vision. Anne Marie has been on the board of Casa Flamenca since 2017.