Yaelisa (Artistic Director/ Choreographer) is one of the most gifted Flamenco artists of her generation. Raised by a Spanish flamenco artist, she was surrounded from birth by the rhythms, gestures and vocal laments of the art in its purest form, where her unique improvisational abilities began to flourish.
At the age of 4 she danced on the stage of the famous Casa Madrid, and her immersion in flamenco culture became a part of her life because of her mother, the renowned singer/dancer Isa Mura. She has performed with many of Spain’s finest artists, including Alejandro Granados, Antonio “El Pipa,” Manuel and Antonio Malena, Domingo Ortega, Enrique “El Extremeno,” Yeye de Cádiz, Mateo Soleá, El Junco, Juan Ogalla, Geronimo, Felipe Maya and others.
Since 1986, Yaelisa has spent extensive periods of time living and performing in Spain, presenting her choreography there and in the U.S. Her choreographies have been commissioned by several modern dance companies, including John Malashock & Company, Rose Polsky and Collage Dance Theatre, and she choreographed and performed in the San Jose Repertory Theater production of “Twelfth Night.”
In 1995, she was one of eleven international choreographers in Spain invited to present her choreography at the prestigious Certámen de Coreografía in Madrid, and the only American choreographer chosen among them.
In 1996, she returned to the U.S. where she continues to develop and train dancers for her company. Internationally recognized as a master teacher, Yaelisa has developed a teaching style that emphasizes cultural understanding and knowledge of the cante. Her unique improvisational knowledge and history lend an authority to her workshops and classes, and many of her students and dancers have gone on to study and perform in Spain and the U.S.
She is the recipient of an Emmy Award for Choreography in 1993 for the PBS program, "Desde Cádiz a Sevilla," and an NEA Choreography Fellowship. In 2005, Yaelisa & Caminos Flamencos received an Isadora Duncan Dance Award for excellence in the category of “Best Company Performance,” and in 2006 she was chosen as one of ABC-7’s “Profiles in Excellence” Hispanic leadership awardees.
Yaelisa is the co-founder and artistic director of the New World Flamenco Festival in Irvine, California. Since its inception in 2001, the Festival has been recognized as a model of success, both critically and artistically. Yaelisa’s vision and curatorial skills provide the groundwork which makes the NWFF unique from the majority of flamenco festivals as an artistic project with a point of view, one which explores concepts, themes and uncovers new talents for American audiences to discover. Douglas C. Rankin, Executive Director of the Irvine Barclay Theater and producer of the NWFF, has stated that Yaelisa’s gifts in her capacity as artistic director are “extraordinary.” In 2007, Yaelisa choreographed and consulted on a production of Garcia Lorca’s ‘Blood Wedding’ for Shotgun Players Theater group, and prepared the 2007 edition of the New World Flamenco Festival. She is a featured dancer and the choreographer for a new music video of Iron and Wine set for release to VH1 and MTV in the Fall of 2007.