Flamenco Por La Vida has permanently closed its studio due to COVID-19, according to artistic director Angelina Ramirez. The studio was located at 1731 East McDowell Road, in a section of Phoenix historically called the “Miracle Mile.”
“It was a really hard decision to make,” Ramirez says. “We really didn’t have enough time to build our business in the new space.” Ramirez operated the studio with Olivia Rojas, who serves as music director for Flamenco Por La Vida.
They opened the studio in late 2019 after signing a five-year lease. For just over two months this year, they held classes and rehearsals in the space. “We decided to temporarily close after the first weekend in March,” recalls Ramirez.
That’s when events and venues around the country began closing due to public health risks posed by the virus. “All of my gig work got canceled or postponed, and the same thing happened to the company,” she says. “I spent the better part of March trying to keep the lights at the studio and my apartment on.”
At first, Ramirez relied on COVID-19 relief grants keep the space open, hoping they would be able to reopen after taking a short pandemic pause. “We got some relief to last us through the end of June,” she says. “In July, we started to wonder whether we would be able to sustain being in the space.”
They considered offering smaller classes to align with social distancing guidelines, but ultimately opted against it for a couple of reasons. “We did the math,” Ramirez says, “and realized it wouldn’t cover our expenses.” But they also worried about keeping people safe. “The flamenco community is very multigenerational, so we wanted to be super careful.”
At first, Ramirez talked with the landlord about reducing their rent. Instead, they agreed to terminate the lease agreement, knowing that public health conditions would likely warrant keeping the studio closed for an extended period of time. The termination was finalized on July 25. That same day, Ramirez and Rojas posted news of the studio’s immediate closure on the Flamenco Por La Vida Facebook page.
It’s just the latest change for Flamenco Por La Vida, which lost another studio space just a few years before.
Ramirez opened Fifth Row Studio in the former Flowers building in Roosevelt Row in early 2012, but had to move after their landlord sold the property to a developer called Desert Viking in 2016. Before finding the McDowell Road space in 2019, they rehearsed and held classes at several interim locations.
“Of course I’m sad,” Ramirez says of leaving another studio behind. “We’ll probably stay quiet for a while and see where things are in the beginning of 2021.”