Maya Sapera

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Maya Sapera - Artistic Director

Maya Sapera is a professional dancer, choreographer and teacher. She is specialised in Indian dance styles such as Kalbeliya, Bharata Natyam, Kathak and Bollywood, as well as dances from North-Africa and the Middle-East.

History

Maya's ArangetramMaya Sapera (official name Eva Baillieul) was 5 years old when she started Oriental dancing and 6 when she first performed Indian Temple Dance on stage. On her sixteenth birthday she began teaching Bharata Natyam and Oriental Dance. The same year she became Dancer-Laureate of the Best Belgian Dance Solo contest and did her “Arangetram” (Indian equivalent of graduate work in Indian Bharata Natyam Temple Dance). In her early twenties she moved to Egypt to study Arabic on a scholarship. While in Egypt she was asked for various television appearances amongst others with National folklore Ballet of Cairo (firqat al qawmiyya lil funun sh-shaabiya fi masrah al balloon). Since then she has become a professional dancer, choreographer and teacher at home and abroad and has performed in many of the origin countries of her dance styles. Since 2002 she is specializing in the Indian gypsy dance Kalbeliya. She was the first in Europe to become a teacher in this dance style and has been working closely with Indian musicians such as Mahabub Khan. Khan Brothers was launched during this time and shows typical Rajasthani folklore dances styles, as well as the group Rangeela which contains the same line up but with more musicians, a fakir and a dancer from India.


© Michel PortierIn 2003 she launched
Al Ghorba, a cross over between contemporary and traditional Moroccan dances, live music, dance and poetry and film, together with Niki Constantinidu. In 2004 they launched Indiara, a cross over between Indian and Oriental dances and included, besides the two dancers, seven musicians. In 2005 she invited the Indian choreographer P.R. Rajesh to Belgium together with Apsara India and hosted intense training and performances in Bharata Natyam. By chance, she met Va Fan Fahre and they decided to work together and since then she has participated in many of their stage performances. They worked so well together they wanted to do more and with Maya's already existing dance group they created the Bollywood music and dance group Gori Ka Dance Orchestra who perform dazzling Bollywood choreographies to live music. They took it to the next level in 2010 when one of Belgium's most famous contemporary dance choreographers Alain Platel nominated them for a special show in the theatre of Kortrijk. This show was called AGNI and is still playing in the country and abroad. In the same year, Alain asked Maya to develop a dance workshop to confront Indian and contemporary dances. In 2009, one of Belgium's most famous contemporary dancers Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui asked Maya and Laura Neyskens to dance in one of his projects for the Ethnographic Museum in Paris. In 2011 Maya starts working on her name as a professional Oriental dancer and creates Chimmela with 8 other professionals. They  offer a variety of the many different Oriental styles in Maya's own personal style. She has also been working with the Opera of Ghent and “Jeugd en Muziek” & created the choreography of the children's opera piece Aiko. 2012 is the year when she first 'publishes' her contemporary Indian dance ideas in a performance at BOZAR and in dance classes. She also creates the choreography for the project “Journey” of Jan Marmenout. 

© Zserda Zsofia

In December 2012 she will, for the first time, bring a Kathak performance in India together with her two class mates. After a six- year-training by their guru Shila Mehta they are now on performance level. Shila Mehta has been a true guide and inspirator to Maya and that's why she keeps inviting Shila Mehta to teach and perform in Belgium, every year.

In 2014 Maya created a choreography for the project 'Bollycore', founded by the jazz ensemble Spinifex. Together they toured in India and Europe.

Many organisations are hiring her to create choreographies: from marriages to musicals, from videoclips to opera, outdoor parades, and dancing schools. 

Objectives

Maya Sapera’s primary objective is to professionalize the level of ethnic dance in Belgium.
She masters the dance styles at such a level that she can create and incorporate, rather than copy. For her this meant studying Arabic and Hindi languages, to get to know all about the history and cultural background of the origin of the dance forms. She is not just a dancer, but someone who is living the culture. She graduated with honors in Arabic; her thesis was on the subject of Moroccan music and dance. Today she is studying Sanskrit, she examines the influences of Bollywood and Indian Kathak on gypsy dance and she is developing an instructional DVD to learn Indian gypsy kalbelya.

She has the support of Alain Platel, professor Eva De Clercq (department of Indology at university of Ghent, Belgium), professor Krishna Vooshamallah (Hindi department at university of Hydrabad, India) and Mr Gaurav Ahluwalia (cultural deputy at Embassy of India in Belgium).

Maya Sapera

Today she is studying how the Indian classical dance style Bharata Natyam can be adapted to our contemporary world. Departing from the very strict rules of Indian classical dance (set out in the ancient book of dance Natya Shastra) she wants to translate and redefine the rules into a contemporary context. She believes this will contribute to the enrichment and evolution/modernization of these dance styles. Always with great respect for the beautiful tradition, not to forget.