Kata Maya is a rising star in the belly dance world. With her dance training, competition wins, dramatic performances and stage presence, she is a multifaceted entertainer. Her dance journey began with her mother, who studied belly dance as a form of fitness after having birthed Kata’s older sister, and continued to dance after having Kata and her brother.
“My mother is my first, and continuous influence in belly dance,” Kata says. “I officially started classes in 1996 and never stopped.”
Her home studio was The Isis Star Dance Studio in Bedford, Texas, where she advanced from level to level, joining the performing company, “The Angels of Isis” when she was 13. She stayed in that company until she turned 18 and auditioned for the top company at that studio, “The Wings of Isis.” Besides belly dancing, she was part of the color guard in high school and studied jazz, hip-hop, modern and ballroom.
When she attended college at Texas A&M University, she joined the dance troupe, “The Brazos Raqs” where she created choreography and eventually led the group. She became an instructor in 2012, teaching beginner classes, belly dance boot camp and specified workshops to the local dancers. She also co-produced a show called “Egyptian Nights,” the first ever co-produced show in College Station that brought dancers from the community and student body together. The show was a success, selling out the theater.
After college, Kata ended up back in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and The Isis Studio where she rejoined “The Wings of Isis” and became a class instructor for the teenage-girl’s class and was the assistant instructor for general level classes. In addition, she began performing at local Mediterranean and Middle Eastern restaurants.
In the fall of 2014, she relocated to San Antonio. This meant starting over in a new town, where Kata Maya currently instructs private students out of her home studio. She will be teaching larger classes at the Missy Miller Presents studio in San Antonio in 2016. In addition, she travels and teaches workshops in different cities and states. She also creates commissioned choreographies for dancers. Locally, she dances at Greek restaurants in and around San Antonio. A perpetual student, she is always learning. Earlier this year, she spent a week living and studying with her dance idol, Aziza.
Kata Maya has entered and won many belly dance competitions. Only a few remain on her competition “bucket list.” She has won individual titles (not counting titles she won as a duet/trio/group): Houston Oriental Superstar 2015, Las Vegas Bellydance Intensive “So You Think You Can Belly Dance?” Ultimate Belly Dance Artist 2014, Yaa Halla Y’all’s Yellow Rose of Texas Cabaret Professional Solo Star 2010, Belly Dancer of the Universe Junior 2008, Belly Dancer of the Universe Champion of Champions 2008, Third place MSC Townhall variety Show in College Station, Texas. She was also selected for Season Two of Project Bellydance online television series in 2012. Kata Maya recently was part of the Global Hafla for Humanity around the world, where belly dancers united to raise funds for the Syrian refugees. Dancers from all regions of South Texas participated in the show that raised over $400 for the cause.
“Winning at Bellydance Masters in 2014 was a highlight of my competition pathway because it was the first time I ever competed in a Fusion category and because I was the first ever bi-category winner. This means that I won both the Professional Oriental and the Professional Fusion categories,” Kata says.
Kata Maya is known for her Cabaret/Oriental style but has been exploring Fusion for the past three years. She loves to use props that are dramatic, use a large space and require a large amount of precision to execute professionally. Fan veils, Isis wings, finger cymbals and double sword are her favored props.
“My performances are very dramatic and entertaining, as I was trained to be an entertainer before finding my own artistic path. I perform at a high energy level and add athletic ability in the forms of fast spins, deep backbends and high kicks and leaps,” Kata adds.
Foremost, Kata Maya loves to instruct.
“My inspiration for teaching dance stems from the idea that dance can connect us with the rest of the world, as well as ourselves,” she explains. “All students come from different backgrounds. They may be socially separated by age, ethnicity or language; but with dance, that is all set aside as individuals come together and more or speak as one. With belly dance, my goal is to help individuals find confidence, self-worth or inspiration by connecting to the ancient culture of the Middle East. I believe belly dance helps strengthen a woman’s self-confidence by having her move organically. How I achieve this is emotional expression through technicality. Sharp movements, such as hip/shoulder hits portray a different meaning from the smoothness of undulations and hip circles. Another attribute of my teaching philosophy is helping students encourage one another as they grow in their studies. The community of Middle Eastern belly dance is strong, supportive and ever growing. This mean an individual is never left standing alone. Students are encouraged to work hard in their studies and rehearsals, so they may perform this art form at a level it is due. This art form is not just about learning a set of moves, but learning how to piece them together in a way that is artistic and entertaining to the audience.”
The best piece of advice she was ever given: ”Don’t take yourself too seriously. In this dance form, there is a high level of perfection expected by those who perform, but I have realized over the past few years I love this dance the most when I allow myself to have fun with it. Whether I perform to a fun song no one is expecting (ex: a duet to “Bang Bang), or taking other types of dance (ex: salsa lessons), I don’t allow myself to settle into a routine. You chose to learn this type of dance for a reason; don’t let the hard moments of life make you forget why,” Kata Maya sums up.
Kata Maya’s website is: http://katamayadance.com