Estela Vélez de Paredez
Estela trained intensively with Maestro Antonio Santaella of Granada, Spain; to whom she owes her development as a flamenco dancer, teacher and choreographer; and with other notable Spanish figures such as Carmen La Talegona, David Coria, La Farruca, Rocio Molina, Mercedes Amaya, Joaquin Grilo, Pastora Galvan, Israel Galvan, Belen Fernandez, Alejandro Granados and Cristobal Reyes, to name a few. She has a background in ballet, jazz, tap, and belly dance.
She has been performing flamenco in the Washington, DC Metro area since 1998. Velez de Paredez is recognized for her style which combines the traditional gypsy with a modern touch and for her strong technical delivery. Critics have described her as "a stunning performer with a gaze that enraptured." (Washington Post, November 2002). The Washington Area Mid East Dance Association agreed when they wrote, "certain performers clearly stood out. One was Estela Velez, a student of both Flamenco and Middle Eastern Dance. She delivered a strong, graceful performance to a haunting piece of Flamenco and Native American fusion music."
In 2001, she was invited to perform with Ballet Flamenco Antonio Santaella in a production of Julia en Flamenco at El Centro de Bellas Artes in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In August 2011, she was invited to perform in Managua, Nicaragua in the production Ida y Vuelta: De Donde Vienes Mestizo at the Teatro Nacional Ruben Dario. In the Washington area, Vélez de Paredez has performed at many venues, including the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center, the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater, the Lincoln Theatre, Harmon Hall, National Theatre, Atlas Performing Arts Center, Jack Guidone Theater, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Dance Place, Publick Playhouse, Roundhouse Theater, and Alden Theatre. She has also performed at tablaos locally and in Puerto Rico and in flamenco demonstrations for the District of Columbia, Fairfax County, Montgomery County public schools and with the D.A.R.E. Dancers Program.
In 2003, she founded the flamenco dance company, Furia Flamenca, where she continues to serve as the artistic director. Her most ambitious production to date Lorca: Flamenco Poetry garnered two Metro DC Dance Awards in 2009. The company was a Legacy Resident Company with the Joy of Motion Dance Center.
Currently, Velez de Paredez is faculty at Séber Dance Academy and teaches in Fairfax, VA. During the summer, she teaches at the Metropolitan School of the Arts. Previously, she's taught at other Summer Intensive programs for the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, DC (2008-2014) and BalletNova. She was faculty for 22 years at Joy of Motion Dance Center the pandemic. She has taught Master Classes at the Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts and offers lectures on the history and background on the art of flamenco. She served as Chair of the Board of Directors of Dance Metro DC from 2014-2017 and currently serves on the Board of TorcuArt.