Estela Vélez de Paredez
Vélez de Paredez was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She trained intensively with Maestro Antonio Santaella of Granada, Spain to whom she owes her development as a flamenco artist, and with other renowned flamenco masters such as Carmen La Talegona, David Coria, La Farruca, Rocio Molina, Mercedes Amaya, Joaquin Grilo, Pastora Galvan, Israel Galvan, Belen Fernandez, Alejandro Granados, Adrian Santana, and Miguel Vargas, to name a few. Her dance training also includes ballet, jazz, tap, and belly dance.
As a performer, Vélez de Paredez is one of the most recognized names in flamenco in the Washington, DC Metro area. Critics have recognized her for her style and strong delivery describing her as "a stunning performer with a gaze that enraptured" and noting "she delivered a strong, graceful performance." She has performed at many venues throughout the area, including the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center and Terrace Theater, the Lincoln Theatre, Harmon Hall, National Theatre, Atlas Performing Arts Center, Wolf Trap, Jack Guidone Theater, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Dance Place, Publick Playhouse, Roundhouse Theater, and Alden Theatre, and many more. Most recently, in December 2021, she was invited to perform at the 44th Annual Kennedy Center Honors as a principal dancer in the Carmen tribute to Honoree Justino Diaz.
Overseas, she was invited in 2001 to perform with Ballet Flamenco Antonio Santaella in the production of Julia en Flamenco at El Centro de Bellas Artes in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In August 2011, she was a principal dancer in the production Ida y Vuelta: De Donde Vienes Mestizo at the Teatro Nacional Ruben Dario in Managua, Nicaragua. She has also performed at tablaos locally and in Puerto Rico.
In 2003, Vélez de Paredez founded, Furia Flamenca Dance Company, which has become the most sought after flamenco dance company in the Washington, DC area. She continues to serve as the Artistic Director, choreographer and principal dancer. Her productions include the five finalist nomination and 2009 two time Metro DC Dance Award winning production Lorca: Flamenco Poetry (Alden Theater 2009, Kennedy Performing Arts Center’s Millennium Stage, 2010, Atlas Performing Arts Center, 2011, 2015); Soul Encounters: Flamenco Meets Jazz (Atlas Performing Arts Center and Alden Theater 2013); Recordando La Alhambra (Atlas Performing Arts Center 2014, Bridgewater College 2014, Dance Place 2015); Flamenco to the MAX! (Atlas Performing Arts Center 2016, Kennedy Performing Arts Center's Millennium Stage 2016, Reston's Center Stage 2018); Amalgamas (Atlas Performing Arts Center 2017); Flamenco, Passion and Soul (Atlas Performing Arts Center 2018, Kenney Performing Arts Center's The REACH 2019), Flamenco y Mas (Atlas Performing Arts Center 2019), Ritmos Españoles (Atlas Performing Arts Center 2020).
Her choreographies are recognized as some of the best in the area having been selected for some of the areas most prestigious choreographer’s showcases including Dance Bethesda (2011, 2012, 2013), World Dance Showcase (2012, 2014, 2016), VelocityDC (2014), ARTSCAPE (2008, 2009) and Dance Place’s New Releases Choreographer’s Showcase (2008).
She is a recurring guest choreographer with Teatro Lirico DC where she has choreographed and performed in various zarzuelas including La Verbena de la Paloma (2014), La Rosa del Azafran (2015), La Tempranica (2016), La Boda y Baile de Luis Alonzo (2018), and Chateau Margaux & Zarzuela Anthology (2019).
Currently, Vélez de Paredez is faculty at Séber Method Academy and teaches in Fairfax, VA. She was faculty at the Joy of Motion Dance Center for 19 years. She has taught at Summer Intensive programs including for the Metropolitan School of the Arts (2017-2021), Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, DC (2008-2014) and BalletNova (2016). She regularly teaches master classes throughout the DC Metro area including at the Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts (2015) and regularly offers lectures on the history and background on the art of flamenco. She also offers flamenco demonstrations for the District of Columbia, Fairfax County, Montgomery County public schools and with the D.A.R.E. Dancers Program. She served as Chair of the Board of Directors of Dance Metro DC (2014-2017) and is a Founding Board Member of TorcuArt, a non-profit organization established in 2020 with a focus on the preservation and promotion of Flamenco and Spanish guitar and associated disciplines and the dissemination of the legacy of Maestro Torcuato Zamora.