Konversation with Flamenco Dancer Maya de Silva Chafe

Konversation with Flamenco Dancer Maya de Silva Chafe

Konversation with Flamenco Dancer Maya de Silva Chafe

14692202_10153880092780779_3238226928235430893_o-206x300 Konversation with Flamenco Dancer Maya de Silva ChafeFor this week’s Konversation, we interviewed flamenco dancer Maya de Silva Chafe from New York, NY. Maya has been practicing the elegant art of flamenco for 40 years, and she has been teaching it for over 30, both in person and on Konversai. She has directed and produced her own flamenco dance company and has performed at such venues as the Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center, and Santa Fe Stages. Learn about Maya’s impressive journey and what she can offer you in her interview below.

Konversai: What does a typical day look like for you? This could include at work and/or outside of work.

Maya: Mornings are free, so after a leisurely coffee and catching up on the news, I often have commitments like neighborhood errands, shopping, doctor’s appointments, laundry, computer work, tidying, or negotiating contracts. I usually get out to ride my bicycle fiercely for about twenty minutes each way up and down the East River Park Esplanade. Then I come home to stretch, shower, and eat breakfast (almost always alternating between yogurt, granola and fruit, or eggs and fruit, sometimes toast, and occasionally as a great treat, bagel w/ lox and cream cheese) while I make my lunch.

Then I get ready to teach at my day job in the arts & literacy after school program at the Louis Armstrong Middle School in Corona, Queens. It takes me about an hour to get to work, so I take the train part-way there, and unless it’s raining or freezing, I shorten my commute (and take some personal power and get some more exercise) by riding my other bicycle, which I keep locked in Jackson Heights, for the second half of my commute.
10608776_10203720473267688_2738840597737093908_o-300x225 Konversation with Flamenco Dancer Maya de Silva ChafeI teach at a middle school. The first part of the day is snack and homework, then I get to teach either flamenco or drama. Fridays we have Garden Club, or we alternate between book club and board games. After work, I’m sometimes to tired to do much, so I’ll just go home, have dinner with my daughter, and go to bed for a bit of reading or Netflix. Rinse and repeat. Sometimes I will attend a friend’s show or have a gig dancing. If that is the case, I have to plan carefully, pack my dance bag before I go to work, and bring or apply lots of makeup before I leave the house or on the commute (obviously on the train , not the bicycle).
I also love to attend cultural events, movies, and concerts. On the weekends, I got to museums or art exhibitions, or get-togethers with friends, or out into nature. If the sun is out, I am out. I love to take long bike rides on the waterfront on the weekends also.
Konversai: How did you end up where you are today?
192591_479000332705_565076_o-240x300 Konversation with Flamenco Dancer Maya de Silva ChafeMaya: Wow, this is not easy! I was born in Santa Barbara, CA, where there is a fantastic four-day summer event called Old Spanish Days Fiesta. It gave me a love of costumes, music, and spectacle. It involves all kinds of parades, contests, rodeos, and merry-making in the streets, beautiful horses, mariachi bands, yummy food, and great parties. During the time between when I was 7-12 years old, my father lived in an apartment right across the street form the courthouse, which was built in the 1940s in the style of a Spanish castle, with a beautiful sunken garden courtyard. This wonderful garden, which took up an entire city block, was like my own personal playground, full of secret stairways, tricky balconies, and ways to access the beautiful building that weren’t quite traditional, shall we say. This was, and is still, the site of Noches de Ronda (Nights of Gaiety), which is a marathon performance of dancing, singing, and all kinds of wonderful activities, all for free, under the warm night summer sky. It was there that I first saw flamenco and was enchanted.
During my youth, I was always wanting to dance and was very theatrical, singing, loving to be the center of attention, and without any kind of shame or shyness. I had a great folk dance teacher in what would have been middle school, except I was in a “free school” called Da Nahazli, where we could choose our classes and had a large variety of great choices. We had a folk dance company that traveled around to other schools in New Mexico and Colorado and performed. I also studied ballet at this time and later belly dancing. My mom and step-aunt formed a belly dance performance company, and we danced at festivals and concerts around Taos, New Mexico—my other home town. Back in a conventional high school, I became involved with the drama club, and we did all sorts of musical theater. When I got to college, I was set on becoming an actress, and so majored in acting and ended up with a double major in dance and acting. I had a lot of wonderful professors, but the best class of all was flamenco. I would always register for that first and build the rest of my requirements and schedule around that class.
942421_10201042503601919_737100529_n-300x200 Konversation with Flamenco Dancer Maya de Silva ChafeAfter I graduated, I won a dance contest in a bar, and as part of the award, was chosen to direct a dance company that was supposedly going to work on Cunard Cruise Lines sailing out of New York City. Well, that all turned out to be a scam, and we ended up thousands of miles away from friends and family, broke and with nowhere to go. I had a cousin who lived in Long Island City, so I moved in with her, got a job waiting table at Lord & Taylor on Fifth Avenue, and began studying dance at Alvin Ailey and going on auditions. I was woefully unprepared for Broadway (I didn’t read music or tap dance), but I had some aptitude for flamenco. So as soon as I could, I found the real flamenco studio: FAZIL’s on 8th Avenue. There, I began studying with the real maestros, like Jose Molina, Luis Montero, and Maria Alba. I would wait tables at lunch, then walk over to Times Square to either take modern jazz at Ailey or flamenco at Fazil’s. I was quickly offered positions with two different dance groups and soon thereafter began an amazing career that has taken me to the Metropolitan Opera and to Sevilla, Spain on a six-month scholarship at the Fundación Cristina Heeren, and wherein I directed my own dance company, Flamenco Revolución here in NYC for 10 years. I have great connections here in New York: I have had the privilege of being a teaching artist for almost 20 years, I have wonderful friends, and I have a very talented and smart 22-year old daughter, with whom I live on the Lower East Side. She is also an incredible dancer!
10506835_10203287130234383_6980851886869548902_o-300x168 Konversation with Flamenco Dancer Maya de Silva ChafeKonversai: What is your favorite thing about what you do?
Maya: My favorite thing about what I do is that it is a constantly changing thing! I go to different dance schools, perform in different venues with different artists, and meet different children and adult students. I can also express myself through dancing—all the joy, pain, frustration, ecstasy or rage. It all comes out in flamenco dance and song. I love to perform and teach. When I teach, I am helping someone else become aware and skilled in the art form that I love. One of the most rewarding things about my career is when I am in an unfamiliar (or familiar) place and someone who at first seems to be a stranger approaches me and says, “You were my teacher! I loved your classes! Can I have a picture with you?” Or even better, when someone that I taught goes on to become a professional, that is the biggest compliment of all!
376744_346398992113053_607163824_n-214x300 Konversation with Flamenco Dancer Maya de Silva ChafeKonversai: How did you decide to offer flamenco sessions on Konversai?
Maya: Trying to organize a traditional dance class for adults involves a lot of promotional work. When you teach children, it’s more reliable, but getting any class started from scratch without having a school hire you is a challenging proposition and a full-time job. Also, finding space to teach flamenco in is a big challenge. We are loud and we are hard on the floor. Nobody wants us. And the few places that do allow flamenco are often all rented out already. Since I recently returned from living in California for two years to care for my dying father, I lost a lot of personal momentum that I had built up in my teaching schedule. I decided to try teaching online. Although I haven’t done much so far, I still have high hopes!
Konversai: What do you like best about being a provider on Konversai?
Maya: I think what I like about about teaching on Konversai is being able to set the time that is convenient for me and my clients and being able to teach from my own home.
Konversai: Are there additional sessions you are hoping to offer on Konversai in the future?
Maya: I think I could offer sessions on Spanish, English, and writing.
418663_346399262113026_1611415637_n-300x214 Konversation with Flamenco Dancer Maya de Silva ChafeKonversai: Why would you encourage a user to book a session with you (something unique about what you offer)?
Maya: I am a thorough and passionate teacher with many years of experience and the expertise of a professional. I love teaching and I have been doing this for 40 years now. You can take classes and gain confidence in the privacy of your own home before you go out to take a group class. If you live in a more remote area that has no group flamenco classes, you can learn about an exciting, complex, and passionate art form that can change your life. Be careful! This flamenco stuff is addictive!
Konversai: Are there sessions that you are excited about taking with other providers on the platform? Which ones? What are you hoping to learn more about?
Maya: I want to study French, voice, and tango dance. I am a very curious person, and I hope to be able to do so at some point soon. I want to keep learning as long as I can!
10400930_25175263436_5976_n-300x199 Konversation with Flamenco Dancer Maya de Silva ChafeKonversai: What advice would you give to potential users who are looking to join the platform? What about specifically for other users who are offering sessions similar to yours?
Maya: I guess I would say to be original. That is why I tried to start with flamenco rather than Spanish. I imagine that maybe there are 20 people who could teach Spanish within ten square blocks, and only one who teaches flamenco. Capitalize on your uniqueness. Also, for your first few classes, set yourself a reminder and an alarm on the day you are teaching so that you remember and have time to prepare properly.
Konversai: What do you enjoy doing outside of work and Konversing?
Maya: Drinking wine, traveling, sewing, painting, baking and gardening. I went to Cuba, Jacob’s Pillow, Fire Island, Benmarl Winery, and Santa Barbara, California this summer!
5169_104317776888_7579650_n-199x300 Konversation with Flamenco Dancer Maya de Silva ChafeKonversai: Anything else you want to share with our users and potential users?
Maya: Don’t hesitate to try flamenco. It is a mysterious, passionate obsession that you will never regret. I can make it easy and fun. But don’t expect results overnight. This is a journey. But if you decide that it is for you and you are truly dedicated, I can accompany you every step of the way! I’ll take you there! For more about me and a complete resume, please see my website.
Interested in connecting with Maya one on one? Book a session with her on Konversai—a global knowledge platform that allows for one-on-one live video conversations with anyone, anywhere, about anything. Knowledge providers on the platform have the opportunity to make extra money sharing the things they know and love, while knowledge seekers can enjoy personalized sessions with a live human being catered to exactly what they’re looking to learn on any topic. Sessions are scheduled at times that are mutually convenient for both parties, and neither has to leave the comfort of their home.  All users are encouraged to both knowledge providers and knowledge seekers on any and as many topics as they wish. Any and all knowledge, skills, and experiences have a place on Konversai—the only limit is your imagination. Konversai’s mission is to democratize knowledge, put the human connection back into the heart of technology, and make the world better by enabling meaningful and authentic conversations that can improve people’s lives. Don’t miss the opportunity to be part of realizing this mission. Join Konversai today!

By Pavita Singh

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