Can you remember what led you to be interested in dance?
I have been always fascinated by the body in movement on the stage. I loved the way that dancers were able to portray emotions and connect with the audiences without words. I loved watching dance on tv and since I was a child I have loved going to the theatre or
plazas to admire the dance performances.
How did you learn to dance?
I started later in life and it was by pure chance. When I was 23, I met my very first teacher of contemporary dance while waiting for a friend to finish her dance class. I asked the teacher if I could join her classes and luckily she accepted me. She changed my life by helping me to become a dancer training me every day. I had to train really hard because I was a beginner with no experience and I had to learn faster to be at the level of other more experienced dancers at the company.
Did you get support at home or at school?
Not really, as dance wasn’t considered a profession by itself. The dance company that I first worked for only paid us with coupons for food at the University dinner hall. Later on when I did my training in performing arts at Belfast Metropolitan College, I had to pay my tuition fees as an international student and that was quite expensive.
Did you study dance at high school or in college?
I did a High National Diploma in Performing Arts at Belfast Metropolitan College and I also studied Dance teaching training with the British Ballet organization. However most of my training has been training in dance companies as an apprentice and in courses and continual training. I have learnt the most training with different teachers from around the world.
You are a performer and a teacher. What enthuses you about teaching dance?
I love sharing my passion for dance and I think people from all backgrounds and age should have the opportunity to dance. When I teach I aim to create safe spaces where students feel free to progress and enjoy dancing. I do believe that dance is an activity that involves all our senses and its great for the brain, the body and our general mental health, my classes are focus on providing the participants with a full experience so they leave the studio with a positive feeling. I enjoy a lot when I see that people in my class is enjoying and dance its making a positive impact in their lives.
Have you any projects coming up in the New Year?
I am very interested in incorporating new forms of movement into my dance practice. At the moment I am working with my own company Mexican dance Belfast which is part of the wellbeing programme at Queen’s University, with the company I am developing a cross practice of contemporary and Mexican dance. I teach babies and young children ballet and contemporary at Queen’s Sport Centre. I am also collaborating with several dance practitioners around Belfast. I am training salsa with Paco Aleman who is a salsa teacher creator of Belfast styling and I am also dancing with Mayte Ruiz who is a Flamenco dancer, creator of Mindful Flamenco. Arsekta in Belfast is always providing us with plenty of invitations and opportunities to bring our dance to a wider audiences all around Northern Ireland.
Do you think dance (and dancers) get enough support in Northern Ireland?
I think there is always the need for support, specially for independent artists. Arts organisations need to understand that dance, differently from other disciplines uses the body as the main tool for expressing and we need to maintain and tune that body in regular continual basis. Arts studios could be more open/affordable to independent dance practitioners offering subsided spaces for rehearsal and classes. Unfortunately there is not a single professional regular class offered in Belfast. Maiden Voyage dance has a great professional development programme but still its not a regular one. I am not really aware the state of the dance in Derry or other cities in Ni as I live and train mainly in Belfast. I think Ballet and dance studios are great opportunities for children and young people and dance competitions around Northern Ireland are also great for young dancers to develop and showcase their skills.
For more information about mate’s work see the following link – maytedancebelfast.co.uk/about-me/