Community Spotlight: Maria Osende

Born and raised in Madrid, Spain, Maria began dancing at young age, soon achieving High Honors in classical ballet at the Conservatorio de Danza de Madrid under the guidance of ballet teacher Julia Estevez. Her foundational flamenco training took place at the Centro de Arte Flamenco Amor de Dios and the School of American Ballet in New York City thanks to a Fulbright Scholarship.

Maria’s professional dance career started at 19 and led her first to the Compañia Nacional de Danza in Spain and later to Berlin Ballet in Germany, where she danced for a decade as a soloist. Collaborating with renowned choreographers, she explored classical and contemporary dance.

Driven by a passion for creativity and a desire to reconnect with her Spanish roots, Maria returned to flamenco, becoming a freelance dancer in Berlin before making Halifax her home since 2003.

Maria Osende
Flamenco & Ballet Maria Osende

Dance Nova Scotia is pleased to shine the spotlight on one of Nova Scotia’s most dedicated dancers.

Located in Halifax and Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada, Flamenco and Ballet Dance School Maria Osende offers specialized dance programs for adults of all levels.

Tell us a little bit about you. What is your dance background? How long have you been dancing? What is your personal style of dance?
My name is Maria Osende, and I am originally from Madrid, Spain. I have been dancing since I was six years old, specializing in ballet and flamenco. My career as a dancer began in Madrid and New York, where I studied at the School of American Ballet and performed with the National Ballet of Spain. It continued in Berlin, Germany, where I danced with the Berlin Ballet. Now, I am dedicated to sharing the art of ballet and flamenco with my students here in Halifax. My passion for dance is palpable in every step I take, and I bring my rich Spanish heritage and international expertise to my vibrant dance school. I ma also the artistic director of Altantic Flamenco, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting flamenco and Spanish Culture in Nova Scotia.

 

What inspired you to open a dance school or start teaching classes?

After dancing professionally in Europe for ten years and moving to Nova Scotia, I wanted to bring flamenco to the region and also started teaching ballet at local dance schools.

 

What styles of dance or programs do you teach or offer at your school?
We offer ballet and flamenco for adults at all levels, recreationally as well as professionally (flamenco only)

Can you describe the atmosphere and culture of your dance school/classes?
Our school is small and personalized, with many students staying with us for years. We have a great atmosphere of camaraderie, diversity in ages and skills, and a welcoming environment. Enjoyment and quality instruction are perhaps the most important elements we share.

 

To what level does your studio or classes meet the needs of accessibility for the community?
Accessibility is a key aspect, with students ranging from their 20s to their 70s. We provide discounts and funding programs for those who need financial assistance. We also offer online and hybrid classes, with students from across Canada and the US participating since the pandemic. For in-person classes, we rent space primarily at Happy Soul Dance Studios and Halifax Dance, so accessibility depends on the building. We also ensure students know they have the freedom to do as much or as little as they feel is right for their bodies and fitness levels.

 

How do you approach teaching dance to students of different ages and skill levels?
With 19 years of experience, we have learned a lot about teaching adults of various ages, backgrounds, and skill levels. Everyone learns in a different way, and it is important to keep in mind why people come—they love the dance style and want to practice it. We approach teaching with a sense of humor, lots of repetition, and an understanding that life happens. As a small school, we get to know all our students and offer personalized recommendations for improvement. Offering recorded classes and online video support has been a big help for students to review classes or catch up if they miss sessions.

What sets your dance school or classes apart from others?
We are the only flamenco dance school in Atlantic Canada, east of Montreal. Most active flamenco dancers in our city have studied at our school at some point. As for ballet, we have created a wonderful group of dancers, and both groups have become communities in themselves.

 

How do you integrate creativity and self-expression into your dance curriculum?
Flamenco and ballet are inherently creative. Our teaching emphasizes self-expression and enjoyment, as our students are here to experience joy, movement, and healthy living through dance.

 

What opportunities do students have to perform or compete?
We do not focus on competitions. For ballet, the emphasis is on the class experience rather than performance. For flamenco, we have an annual showcase in June. Additionally, the school has “For the Love of Flamenco,” a performance group that serves as a platform for dancers and musicians willing to take flamenco to the next level. The group participates in various events in Halifax and at the annual Nova Multifest in July.

 

How do you support the overall development of your students, both as dancers and as individuals?
As individuals, we foster connections through student gatherings, our annual ballet retreat, end-of-term and Christmas parties, movie nights, and by bringing guest artists and involving students in our events. As dancers, we support them through additional private lessons, recorded classes and mini video tutorials, guest artists, and performance opportunities (for flamenco).

 

Can you share a memorable success story of a student or group of students from your school or classes?
One of my ballet students in her 60s just had her first-ever ballet performance. It was a short duet, perfectly suited to her skills, performed alongside a professional dancer. It was simply so moving to watch.

 

What do you hope students take away from their experience in your classes or at your dance school?
We hope they take away the joy of dance, integrate dance into their lives, form social connections, and maintain healthier bodies.

 

What’s coming up at your school or with your classes/programs?
We have several summer workshops lined up. IN Spetmeber we will start our flal classes, a great pportunity for beginenrs to start ballet or flamenco!

 

 How can parents, community, and dancers connect with you?
Through our schools website: FlamencoSchool.ca 

social media on Facebook @mariaosedeflamenco  and Instagram @mariaosende, phone at 902-418-9916, or email at info@flamencoschool.ca.

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