DANMAR was created back in 1999 by two talented young sisters, DANiela Urbaez Olivares and MARia Fernanda Urbaez Tapia, who had a tremendous passion for dance and music. Daniela Urbaez Olivares together with her husband Pedro Cesar Olivares passed on in January 1st 2007. Both live on in our hearts and memories and inspire the work of DANMAR to this day.
Later in 2006, it was decided to create DAPA, Danmar Academy of Performing Arts, a non-profit organization, promoting diversity, inclusion, and to forge a new and greater appreciation of world cultures for their communities who are anxious to keep their cultural traditions while living abroad.
Its goal is to develop artistic, cultural and social programs, concerts, lectures and productions related to dance, music and language, which will serve as a first step to create understanding among people of different cultures and societies of the Greater Houston area, as well as to promote that same understanding particularly in The United States, Latin-America and Europe.
Houston based and Venezuelan native artist María Fernanda Urbaez has been recognized for her continuous commitment to promoting the arts in the Greater Houston Area and beyond. Her formative years included studies with master dancers and musicians from Venezuela, the United States and Spain. María Fernanda holds Magna Cum Laude bachelor degrees in Theatre and Dance as well as Modern Languages (Spanish) from the University of Houston, and Flamenco post graduate studies in Spain. Among the many awards she has received, she is the recipient of the prestigious FESNOJIV Gold Medal prize as ambassador of Venezuelan culture abroad (2008), and the Houston “Hispanic Woman of the Year in the Arts Award’ (2010).
As impressive as these accolades are, María Fernanda’s commitment to positively impact the lives of new and current generations of Houstonians is evident by the hundreds of students that have passed through the doors of the beloved facility she leads. María Fernanda has the distinct honor of leading Houston’s longest and biggest dance school, DANMAR, established in 1999, where she instructs from children to adults on Flamenco, an art-form considered by UNESCO as a ‘World Heritage Treasure’. In addition, and wanting to give students a global perspective that’s reflective of Houston, the school also offers artistic expression from around the world and serves as a cultural hub for artists and groups alike that converge to share their passion as well. María Fernanda’s dedication to using the arts to advance inclusion, tolerance and cultural diversity amongst all people has been recognized by her peers both nationally and abroad, and by a community that continues to support and advance the vision she has set forth.
Because of her desire to make the city of Houston a better place to live in, María Fernanda has been part of many collaborate projects with local, regional and international artists, elevating the quality of our local arts scene while contributing in making Houston maintain its designation as ‘Most Diverse City’. The creation and presentation of ‘Through My Eyes’ reflects her heart: using the arts to address social issues and to give a voice to those who otherwise would be unheard.
Daniela Urbaez-Olivares was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and raised in Venezuela. She began her dance instruction in ballet, tap, jazz and flamenco at the age of 5 with Anita LeBleiss, Carmen Vercelli, and Omayra Oliveros in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela. In 1998, she moved with her family to southern Florida, where she continued her dance training at the University Center for the Performing Arts. She also began dancing, teaching, and competing in Salsa Casino Rueda and Salsa Free Style. Later, she moved with her family to Katy, Texas, where her family started DANMAR Art and Dance Studio. As one of the lead instructors at DANMAR, Daniela taught Flamenco, Middle-Eastern dance, Salsa and Ballet.
Daniela participated in festivals, concerts, and other dance events, placing first along with her dance partner Wilmer Melendez in several free-style salsa competitions in Texas and Florida. To continue her dance education, Daniela participated in the XVI International Flamenco Festival 2002 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, taking classes with international dancers Omayra Amaya, Joaquin Encinias, Mercedes Amaya, and El Farruquito. In addition, she completed classes in Sevilla, Spain, with renowned dancers Lourdes Recio and Felipe Mato in 2004. She participated in belly-dance workshops with well-known dancers Samara, Leyla Gamal, and Bozenka.
Moreover, Daniela choreographed dance routines for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Cultural Encounters. She was also a co-founder of the Siburene Salsa Company and was one of the main dancers, choreographer, and percussionist of DANMAR Ensemble and DANMAR Venezuela. In December of 2005 she was invited to participate in the Houston Community College international festival Joy to the World. Daniela was a guest artist in the “Colombia Unica” production in November of 2006, sharing honors with Ballet Folklorico Colombiano, Ballet de Cali, and Ballet de Bogota. She was majoring in Dance with a minor in Business at the University of Houston.
Our beloved Daniela passed away along with her husband, Pedro Cesar Olivares, on January 1, 2007. Daniela and Pedro will be missed forever………………
Children growing up in different cultures receive specific inputs from their environment.
To cultivate and advance both artistic curiosity and the importance of the arts in lives of students, arts educators, artists and audiences alike, enhancing the quality of life and health for individuals and society.
Fundamental aims are artistic excellence and creativity through the development of new works, and the education and development of its students, both physically and mentally, in the professional techniques of dance, music and language. DANMAR realizes these core functions - of Education and Production - by way of educational, artistic, social & cultural programs that engage creativity and encourage understanding among people of different cultures and backgrounds.
DANMAR was first open back in 1999 in Weston Florida and moved to Houston in 2001. In order to integrate the community in our mission, we created DAPA in November 2006 which was approved in August 2007 by the IRS as a Charitable organization 501 (C)(3), mainly to promote, preserve and forge new and greater appreciation of world cultures, through different programs in the area of Houston, Texas and its surroundings.
DANMAR has produced many original new works such as Venezuela Mia, Venezuela Nuestra, Nostalgia Venezolana, America Latina, Carmen, Danza Sinfonica Hispanoamericana, Flamenco Intimacy & Masterpiece, Through my Eyes to name a few, which have been presented not only in Houston but also in New York, Miami, Baton Rouge and internationally.
The cast has been integrated by national and international artists, some of them have won the Latin Grammy, as well as local artists, all led by the magnificent producer, choreographer and dancer Maria Fernanda Urbaez.
On July 30th 2018, DANMAR was selected as the official EFA (Escuela de Flamenco de Andalucia, Spain) training center in the city of Houston, with the legal capacity to provide professional certification in Flamenco dance formation.
The Day of the Hispanic World – Dia de la Hispanidad celebrated its 35th annual dance and music program at Miller Outdoor Theatre by presenting on October 18th 2019, a tribute to the culture, beauty and treasures of Venezuela. The IHCH invited DANMAR to present 'Through My Eyes" production. Talented musicians, vocalists, and dancers delighted the audience with 13 folkloric scenes of this colorful country.
For the past 20 years DANMAR has become a well recognized multicultural organization that shines at entertaining and inspiring the community through the art of dance, music and language.
DANMAR has relied on its directors, individual and company contributors and sponsors as well as many volunteers.
Board of Directors
Fernando Urbaez - Chair
Maria A. Romero-Urbaez - Executive Director
Maria Fernanda Urbaez - Artistic Director
Alejandro Tapia - Director
Raul O. Edwards - Director
Mary Grunewaldt - Director