Reflection and Communication Through Flamenco –  Acclaimed Artist, Belén Maya, Comes to Drexel

World-renowned flamenco dancer, teacher and scholar Belén Maya will perform for the first time in Philadelphia this fall as part of a residency at Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. As a 2017 Rankin-Scholar-In-Residence, Maya will give two public performances, lead demonstrations and workshops, and teach classes on campus.

“Maya is an exceptional artist, and the perfect choice to show our students, across many disciplines, a different kind of flamenco,” said Allen Sabinson, dean of the Westphal College of Media Arts and Design. “Her creative process is unique, and her focus on reflection and communication through movement will provide our students with an incredible experiential learning opportunity”  

Belén Maya. Photo by Prisca Brisquet.

During her time in Philadelphia, Maya will bring a revolutionary work called “Romnia” to the stage. The piece, according to Maya, is a celebration of “gypsyness,” with a sometimes compassionate, sometimes joyful look at the plight of women, whose courage to survive has led them to a new ethical and aesthetic commitment. The performance will take place on Friday, Oct. 13 and Saturday, Oct. 14 in the URBN Center Annex Black Box Theater (3401 Filbert Street).

Flamenco dance is a highly stylistic expressive art form with ritual significance. It’s a fusion of elements from different cultures – including Gypsy (or Roma), North African Moors, Indian, Sephardic Jew and Southern Spain. The Dance Journal considers Maya, “one of the most important female flamenco dancers performing today.” Maya, the daughter of flamenco greats Carmen Mora and Mario Maya, has been studying and innovating the art for much of her life.

Born in New York, Maya traveled at a young age to Madrid, Spain, to began her dance studies –   learning from Carmen Cortés, Paco Fernández, Maria Magdalena and Goyo Montero, among others. Her studies continued in Seville, Spain, with Anunciación Ruedo “La Tona” and she performed at several prestigious flamenco shows such as Cafe de Chinitas and Los Gallos in Seville.

Belén Maya. Photo by Prisca Brisquet.

Maya also trained with the Spanish National Ballet, and after a year she joined the Mario Maya Company, where she quickly rose from a member of the ensemble to a principal dancer and répétiuer of the company. This lead Maya to receive an invitation to represent the new generation of flamenco in the film Flamenco from renowned Spanish film director, Carlos Saura.

In addition to her performances of “Romnia,” Maya will teach a flamenco dance course for Drexel students with Elba Hevia y Vaca, the artistic director of Philadelphia’s Pasion y Arte dance company, Flamenco Dancing Technique (DANC T180-001), which is open to all students. She will also give a master class in flamenco on Tuesday, Oct. 17 from 6-8 p.m. in the Main Building (room 418), open to members of Drexel’s dance ensembles and Dance Movement Therapy graduate students.

Maya will deliver a fall lecture-deomnstration, “Flamenco: Creative process. Transformation. Collaboration. Choreography composition in contemporary flamenco," on Thursday, Oct. 19 from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Mandell Theater. It will be free and open to the public.

 With interdisciplinary interests, Maya will be connecting with departments and students across Drexel to engage students in her new take on flamenco dance. 

Belén Maya. Photo by Prisca Brisquet.

“This immersive residency with Belén Maya will provide our students with the opportunity to gain a deep understanding of this dynamic art form from multiple angles. Engaging in conversations around the historical and contemporary contexts of the art-form, embodying the movement through physical practice and attending performances from this world-class artist is a rich experience we are excited to bring to our students,” said Valerie Ifill, director of the Dance Program in Westphal College. “We are also looking forward to extending parts of this residency beyond Drexel’s walls for the local Philadelphia community to engage in the conversation around flamenco and experience the work of Belén Maya.”

Schedule for Belén Maya Residency 

Oct. 13 & 14: Performance of “Romnia” (URBN Black Box Theater). Tickets are $25 for general admission and $15 for students.
Oct. 17: Flamenco Master Class (Main Building, Room 418). 6-8 p.m.
Oct. 19: Lecture-Demonstration (Mandell Theater). 7-8:30 p.m. Free and open to the public.

To learn more or to purchase tickets for upcoming performances, click here.