Dancing in a ghost town

By Leslie Radford: CNJ Staff writer

In between Santa Fe and Albuquerque sits the village of Madrid — a ghost town with a population less than 200, historically known for its coal mining days and the first lighted baseball park in New Mexico.

These days, the ballpark has been the center for blues and jazz festivals and May 15 marks the third annual Gypsy Festival, where belly dancers and circus acts, fortune tellers and flamenco dancers come together for some Middle Eastern entertainment.

Anna Tindell and two friends founded the festival to raise money for the town’s playground and to have an outlet to dance. The gypsy theme stemmed from their love of belly dancing.

“There wasn’t much to the playground here,” she said. “I wanted something nice for the kids to play on. I’m the only mom in the group, but the other two girls (who aided in getting the event going) are single, from Santa Fe, and just wanted a place to dance.”

Tindell has been belly dancing for six years.

“It took me about four years before I would even perform in front of an audience,” said Tindell, who will participate in one belly dancing troupe at the upcoming event.

A dancer and teacher of the Middle Eastern spiritual dance, Jasmine Quinsier said her favorite part of the festival is the variety of performers and people who come to watch.

“It is just such an open-hearted space,” she said. “This is very important for a performer, to be welcome and invited. All the performers here are multitalented and the atmosphere opens its self for others to have fun and enjoy themselves.”

The Sunday event brings a circus-like atmosphere to the southwest, according to Tindell, and includes Flamenco dancers, fire dancers, a Taiko drumming group, fortune tellers and an El Cicui Burning Woman made of paper mache where attendees of the festival will have the opportunity to write down their worries and place them in her basket to be burned. There will be a micro brewery on hand as well as various food and art vendors.

“I think that events during the summer bring so much fun and energy,” said Quinsier, who starts prepares her students in January for a choreographed show. “The Gypsy Festival carries that energy.”

This year, the money raised from the event will go toward renovating Oscar Huber Memorial Ballpark. It was built in 1920 by the Employees Club in the old coal mine days.

Gypsy Festival

• What: Third Annual Gypsy Festival
• When: Noon to dusk on May 15
• Where: At the Historic Ballpark on Hwy. 14 in Madrid
• Tickets: $10/adults, $5/teens, children under 12 are free
• Information: Anna Tindell, 473-1005, or www.madridculturalprojects.org

On the Web

For more information on the old ballpark or other festivals in the village of Madrid:
• www.madridculturalprojects.org
On bellydancing:
• www.shira.net