• "Queridíssima Maria, My heart breaks to hear of Cecilio's..."
  • "Maria and Paco my sincerest condolences... I have fond..."
    - Virginia Castellano
  • ""Hubo mujeres que recibieron a sus muertos por..."
    - D M
  • "QEPD Cecilio, y muchísimas gnoracias por los años del..."
  • "Rest in Eternal life"
    - Diana Lindahl

CECILIO BENITEZ A Spanish born theatrical director who left behind a legacy of introducing American audiences to a wide range of Spanish music, theater and dance along side his wife, internationally known Spanish and Flamenco dancer Maria Benitez, passed away peacefully on January 28, 2014 at their home in New York, after a long illness. He was 80. For four decades he was known for his technical artistry and company direction for the Maria Benitez Teatro Flamenco and co-founder of the Institute for Spanish Arts based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Born April 1, 1933 in Arenys de Mar, Barcelona, Spain to Margarita and Jesus Benitez, and a resident of New Mexico since 1967, Cecilio Benitez began his theatrical career at the age of 14 as an apprentice in the Fontalba Theatre in Madrid, Spain where he discovered his passion for Spanish theater. For the next 20 years he toured as a theatrical director with major opera, dance, theater and zarzuela companies. While in Madrid he met Maria who was training and performing professionally, they married in 1966 and relocated to Taos, New Mexico where their son Francisco was born. In 1967 his work turned to radio for KDCE in Espanola and later in 1969 relocated with Maria and there son to teach Spanish literature at Verde Valley School in Sedona, Arizona and continued to direct such plays as Blood Wedding and Casa de Bernardo Alba by Garcia Lorca, Don Juan Tenorio by Zorrrilla, and La Barca Sin Pescador by Alejandro Casona, among others. In 1973 they relocated to Santa Fe where together they founded Maria Benitez Teatro Flamenco and later founded the Institute for Spanish Arts, one of the first non-profit performing arts companies to reflect a broader commitment to the Spanish arts. He served as co-director of both organizations and has been instrumental in elevating the world of flamenco in the United States to a broad audience. With a long standing reputation for excellence, he lead the companyfs history of performances at festivals and major concert halls in all 50 states, Canada, Germany, Holland, Spain, Austria, 8 seasons at the Joyce Theater in New York City, Kennedy center, and numerous other prestigious concert halls around the United States, and thirty-eight, 12-week summer seasons in Santa Fe, NM since the early 1970's. From the 1960's to the 2007 the company, renowned for his technical excellence and Maria's exquisite artistry, presented diverse music and dance rhythms of flamenco to theatre audiences around the world. Over the years, he worked with dancers and choreographers such as Ciro (El Muro), Joaqu¡n Ruiz (Aires de Silencio), Mario Maya (Flamencos de la Trinia and other works by Hector Zaraspe), Jos‚ Greco (two tours with Maria's company), Jos‚ Molina, Luis and Juan Ortega, Antonio Granjero, Ángel Mu¤oz, La Tania, Adela Clara, Roberto Lorca, Manolo Rivera, Orlando Romero, Rosita Segovia, Eduardo Montero, Alejandro Granados, Victorio Korjhan, and many others. Nearing retirement in 1994 he turned his interest to the Institute for Spanish Arts. For over 45 years, his life's work and passion have stimulated, revitalized, preserved and disseminated Spanish arts and heritage. Cecilio is the youngest of six brothers whom reside in Spain. He leaves behind his loving wife Maria Benitez, his son Francisco (Paco) Benitez and wife Anne Marcy- Benitez of Santa Fe, NM, his son Jose Maria Benitez de Sande and partner Jesus Carraminana Bustillo, Madrid, Spain, a daughter Afriquita Carrasco Benitez and husband Jose Carrasco, Madrid, Spain, grandchildren Virginia and Carlos, 2 great grandchild Marcos and Alejandro, many nieces and nephews, along with surviving brothers Emilio and Jesus. He will be greatly missed by many flamenco artists and friends from around the world. A memorial service is planned for April and more information will be available at a later date.
Published in Santa Fe New Mexican on Feb. 2, 2014