Memories of Doña Tules

A Flamenco Tribute

Companía Chuscales y Mina Fajardo, Santa Fe’s premiere flamenco dance troupe, joins with Teatro Paraguas to present live performances of Memories of Doña Tules, a tribute in dance, poetry, and music to one of Santa Fe’s most notorious and influential women of the 19th century, Doña Maria Gertrudis Barceló, a.k.a. Doña Tules.

WHEN: Friday and Saturday November 4-5, 2022 at 7:00 p.m.

TICKETS: $20 in advance / $25 at the door

Purchase tickets online or call 505-424-1601 for reservations


Joining Mina and Chuscales is a special guest, Nicolasa Chavez, the New Mexico Deputy State Historian and flamenco singer who will speak about Doña Tules. Dancers Sveta Backhaus (as the young Maria), Monze Diaz (as Doña Tules in her prime), Micah Birdshire, and Lacy Romero join Mina (who portrays Tules in her later years) onstage. Mathias Rodriguez plays guitar, Oscar Gamboa accompanies on the cajon, and Argos MacCallum provides narration.

Doña Tules was a prominent saloon owner and professional gambler in Santa Fe during the heyday of the Santa Fe Trail. She was born in the state of Sonora, Mexico, around 1800 to prosperous Spanish ranchers. Little is known about her early life, but she was well educated — learning to read and write. Shortly after Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821, Maria and her family moved to New Mexico territory, settling in Tome, a small village about 30 miles south of Albuquerque. On June 23, 1823, she wed to a prominent man named Manuel Sisneros in Tome. Barceló retained her dowry, her own property, and her maiden name. The couple would soon have two sons, both of whom died in infancy. Maria later adopted two daughters.

In 1825 the couple relocated to the Santa Fe area and established a gambling hall at a mining camp in the Ortiz Mountains. She moved to Santa Fe in 1835, and opened a hotel and casino on Burro Alley, signing the deed with her own name and excluding her husband from the transaction. The luxurious casino quickly became a favorite of Santa Fe’s socialites, and travelers on the Santa Fe Trail.

She befriended Manuel Armijo, the last Mexican governor of New Mexico, as well as General Stephen Kearny and various officers of the American army which invaded in 1847. She became an American citizen in 1849, died in 1852, and was one of the last people to be buried in the south chapel of the St. Francis Cathedral. Her flamboyant nature, shrewd business acumen, personal connections, and influence has made her a legendary figure in Santa Fe’s history.

Memories of Doña Tules is the creation of Mina Fajardo, a singer-songwriter, master dancer, choreographer, teacher and director originally from Japan. Chuscales, a composer and virtuoso guitarist and a native of Antequera, Spain, grew up in a traditional gypsy family well known for its professional musicians and dancers. His grandmother was among those who lived in the caves of Sacromonte, one of the legendary cradles of flamenco. Together, Mina and Chuscales have performed for decades internationally, and have inspired and taught hundreds of flamenco students.

Memories of Doña Tules, which was first performed at Teatro Paraguas in November 2021, is the second production in Compania Chuscales’ New Mexico History Series. In 2017 Companía presented Dances With Spirit, a tribute to the original Hispanic colonists in New Mexico. Compania Chuscales has performed many times at Teatro Paraguas, presenting three flamenco concerts each year since 2013.