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Amaya has been in Germany in the 1970s already, to teach and to perform. She was born and still lives in the US state of New Mexico, and after many years she will return to Germany this 2010, to teach and perform, again. Take a first look at this amazing woman in this interview …
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The bio on your site tells us that you have already been to Europe, allthough not with a dance show but with a circus. Have you been to Germany then?

Oh yes!  I was in Germany about 3 times a year for fifteen years!  I performed and taught for Dietlinde Karkutli, Beata Cifuentes, Lilo Freid of Karlsruhe, Nahema, Shirin of Cologne, Samara of Stuttgart, Uschi Lenz, Mustapha and Khadejah El Oeslati of Wiesbaden, Iris Wardani of Stuttgart, Ayun of Ingolstadt, Leyla Jouvana of Duisburg, and many, many others.

I was introduced into the German dance scene through my dance partner, Bert Balladine in the 1970s.  He was probably the first teacher of any nationality to teach workshops in Germany.  His initial start was through American dance students on the military bases and then because he was Eastern European, had a mother that lived in Berlin and also spoke fluent German, he started working with the German dancers.

My first contact with the local German dancers started after I spent a summer in Hamburg working as the "Flower of the Orient" in Harry Owen's circus theater production called "Salome."  I substituted for Feyrouz (Frankfurt) and Roshan (America) who were both "Flowers of the Orient" before me. Later I worked as a dancer in "Circus Conelli" in Switzerland.

Of course, after all these years of coming to Germany to teach, the dance population got very, very big with many, new dance teachers. I became exhausted from the travel and haven't returned to Europe in a long time.

Most of my seminar travels have kept me in the U.S. for the past ten years.  How exciting it is for me to be coming back to Deutschland after such a long time! I miss the delicious brot, dark coffees and gluhwein!

Amaya 1977
You are famous for your fusion of Andalusian and Arabic dance, a mixture which is not very common (at least not in Europe). Would you please tell us something about how it came that you concentrated on this style and made it your own?

After dancing 25+ years in Oriental Dance, I became a little tired of my own generic style.  I was raised on Spanish, Mexican, salsa, bolero, Tex-Mex styles of music.  I asked a famous composer, Ibrahim El Samahy, to create a Spanish/Arabic piece for me and he wrote "Amayaguena" a song with trumpets and drama and also musical instruments from the Orient. It was a huge hit and my own dance style was born. I incorporated the power of Flamenco with the feminine style of Oriental to create my Danza Mora fusion using this new music. Today we have many more samples of World dance music to choose from, thank goodness.
You are also at home with other styles, rumor has it, even with tribal. Please tell us something about the range of your art and your philosophy behind it.

Because I have been in the dance business so many years, I can say I have tried many different styles. Before there was "tribal" there was  "ethnic."  If you see old footage of Jamila Salimpour's Bal Anat Troupe (see my "American Legends of Belly Dance" dvd)  of the l970s you will see that there was tribal already! Even the tatoos! Because I am a Gitana artist, I really don't like labels and boxes. My style is my own and not part of a trend. I have studied many dance forms through out the years but my favorite study is LIFE.

Amaya's "early tribal" back in the 1970s,
at this time they called it "ethnic", she sais
There seems to be a rivalry between the (US) West Coast and the East Coast. How does New Mexico fit into  this.

With the internet and YouTube and electronic communications, the coasts are blending much more and the competition between the two areas has disappeared. This was much more an issue in the 70s-80s than now.

New Mexico is a very special place and has it's own thing happening separate from both coasts.  Dancers here get along in a non-competitive style. Our wide, blue skies lead us to believe that there is plenty of room for everyone to dance, put on shows, and share their own special talents. I like to think that our dance here is more spiritually based than commercial. The New Mexico landscape feels very old and wants our dance to reflect this ancient Native feeling.

Graphics and layout:
Konstanze Winkler
Why do they call you "wise woman"?

Ummm ... maybe because I am a bit older?    

I learned many years ago from my mentor, Bert Balladine, to share my philosophies and talk to my students. He taught me that teaching was not only about steps ... but the Life Feeling behind those steps. Bert also gave so freely of his spirit and knowledge to new dancers and I try to help out in the same way. Maybe this is why some people like to call me Wise Woman. I would be the first to say that often my wisdom comes from my students!  

All of us need a mentor or someone that can give sage advice in this business. I was lucky to have Bert Balladine in my life. He opened many doors for me and for this I am forever grateful. His legacy is that I try to share my knowledge with the generation of dancers behind me. There is a responsibility of the elders to share their knowledge and wisdom to those behind us. This is a Native Indian philosophy also.

Amaya - the "wise woman"
Amaya is gueststar at Leyla Jouvana & Rolands
18th Oriental Festival, she helds workshops
and she will perform on both evening shows
on November 27th and 28th 2010
Amayas homepage:
Amaya as "Flower of the Orient" in Harry Owen's "Salome"
Photos © Amaya
My dance philosophy is to share the joy of movement and music with the world.  As my friend Aziza says, "BE the music." For me, it is not about how beautiful I am, or how beautiful my costume is. It is all about the JOY of the moment. If I can make someone in the audience stop thinking about their problems even for a few minutes, I have succeeded in my dance. Magic can happen on stage when you least expect it and time will stop. This is why I dance.
What will you perform in Germany at Leyla's festival? And what wondrous things will you show and teach in your work shops?

Like many artists … I haven't decided, what I will be performing quite yet. Probably my Danza Mora style though. Maybe my hat and pants? Not quite sure yet on that one.

I do know what I will be teaching!  A nice variety of Gitana dance combinations and also a Spanish Gypsy Choreography called "Danza Mora" with regular dance fans from Spain and also the new popular silk fanveils. I will bring extra with me to sell or to have people borrow. I can't wait to see many old friends in my classes or at the show!
Interview with Amaya
by Marcel Bieger