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Dr. Ana María Tekina-eirú Maynard
Founding Executive & Artistic Director
Kacike, Yukayeke Yara Cu

With indigenous roots in the mountains of Puerto Rico, Dr. Ana María Tekina-eirú Maynard is a proud blood descendant of the Tainos of Boriken. Her family line dates back 6000 years to the Arcaicos (Ancient Ones), the Island's earliest inhabitants. Tekina-eirú honors her lineage by serving her community. She has dedicated her life to preserving and transmitting Puerto Rico's cultural traditions to the new generation. She is a historical and cultural researcher, playwright, choreographer, songwriter, multi-disciplinary performer and teacher of Puerto Rico's traditional music and dance. Beyond her cultural mission, Tekina-eiru is the Kacike (Tribal Chief) and Spiritual Leader of Yukayeke Yara Cu (Tribe of the Sacred Place), a Taino tribe of blood descendants and Guaytiao proudly serving Central Texas; she leads Yara Taino & Guaytiao the center's active indigenous community. Dr. Maynard is a Dreamwork & Master Certified Spiritual Life Coach and a Pastoral Care Specialist. As an innovator (11 technology patents) holding a doctorate in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon. Her combined expertise is unique in the Southwest.

Dr. Maynard is the Visionary and Founding Executive and Artistic Director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, founded in 1997 as a nonprofit 501(c)(3). It is the only cultural center in Texas and the Southwest affiliated with the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture for the offering of authentic, high-quality cultural programming. As the visionary since the cultural center's inception, her Executive duties span every responsibility required by a nonprofit Senior Executive. She is the Artistic Director of the center's cultural arts programs and its performing company of dancers and musicians, Puerto Rican Folkloric Dance. Since 2001, achievement and quality has been validated by repeat support by the National Endowment for the Arts, including an NEA Chairman's Award (2007), the Texas Commission on the Arts, the City of Austin through the Cultural Arts Division, and Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities (since 2011).

Cultural Arts Expertise

Born into a musical family, Tekina-eirú was raised in a Puerto Rican neighborhood in the suburbs of La Isla (The Bronx). Surrounded by elders nostalgic for home, Puerto Rican music and dance were always a vibrant and active part of Tekina-eirú's life. From weddings to impromptu gatherings, she looked forward to family and friends bringing guitars, congas, guiros, and maracas, and dancing to the rhythms of Puerto Rico all night long. As a young child, Tekina-eirú enjoyed playing percussion on "latas de galletas" (tins of Export Soda crackers) to the sounds of latin albums she would buy with her own allowance. As an adult, Tekina-eirú was inspired to bring her rich culture to life in Austin Texas so her baby son could know the joy of her childhood.

Today, Dr. Maynard is an expert resource on the Mainland for Puerto Rico's cultural history, heritage,and multidisciplinary traditional arts. Since 1998 she has been trained by Island Masters in oral history and ancestral traditions based in native Taino, Spanish, and West African roots. (See Training below.) Tekina-eirú is a choreographer, dancer, and teacher of traditional dance, music, games, culture and history to preschool through professional adults. As a multi-disciplinary performer, she plays a variety of instruments including folkloric and indigenous percussion, strings, and Taino flutes. She learned folkloric percussion on barriles, panderos, and maraca with Bomba Patriarch Modesto Cepeda. At age 11 she taught herself to play guitar, and in 2013, decided to be true to herself and relearned to play -- as a lefty. She has written near 30 original compositions including Taino Areytos for ceremony on earth clay and bone flutes to Mayohuacan drums, Afro-Boricua music (Bomba and Plena), and Jibaro (mountain) aguinaldos on guitar fused with Taino language.

Thanks to her great mentor, Rupert Reyes, Director of Teatro Vivo, Tekina-eirú has learned to move the stories in her heart to the stage. A subtle activist, since 2004, Tekina-eirú has written 20 original plays based in oral and documented history, in English, Spanish and Taino. Featuring live music and dance, they reveal relatively unknown history, preserve the memories of elders, and honor unsung heroes. Her works have included: "Pirates of Puerto Rico (2004)", "Puerto Rico Ever After (2004)", "Puerto Rico Mi Patria (2005)", "Piragua Man (2006)", "Angelito Borincano (2007)", "The Journey Back (2008), "Pa Mi Gente (2009)", "500 Years (2010)", "Boricua Beisbol (2011)", Mami Boricua (2012), Boricua Spirit (2013), Expreso Pony de Boriken (2014), Mi Tierra Boricua (2015), Borinki Soy (2016), La Promesa Rebelde (2017), Borinquen Sana (2018), Las Lavanderas (2019), The Pirates of Puerto Rico Return (2020), Valiente Soy (2021), and Cangrejos y Cafe (2022).

In 2024, Dr. Maynard was recognized as a Change Maker of the Year in Education by Austin Woman Magazine, and Guardiana Folclorica of Puerto Rico's traditions by Raices Profundas Americas. She was named the Austin YWCA Woman of the Year for Arts (2005), and recognized for her contributions to the Taino community with Areito Award for Dance and Theatre (2009).

Cultural Arts Training

Since 1998, she returns each year to La Isla in search of new cultural education and develop new project ideas to bring back to her cultural center community. She is grateful for the research and mentorship, spanning decade(s), of elders and generous Puerto Rican masters with whom she has co-directed and shared the stageincluding (+ means numerous projects or ongoing): Modesto Cepeda (1998+), Joaquin Nieves Caldero, Director of Guateque Ballet Folklorico de Puerto Rico (1999+), Tata Cepeda (1999+), Raul de la Paz (2001+), Eric Gonzalez Director of Gibaro de Puerto Rico (2001), Los Pleneros de la 21 (2002), J. Emanuel Dufrasne-Gonzalez and Nelie Lebron-Robles of Paracumbe (2002+), Tito Matos, Director of Viento de Agua (2002-2022/RIP), William Cepeda with AfroBoricua (2005), Tico Fuentes (2007+/RIP), Los Tambores de Felix Alduen (2009), Raul Ayala y Los Hermanos Ayala with Marcos Penaloza Pica and Nercy Cordova (2012+), Orlando Laureano with Jovino Gonzalez (2013+), Jorge Emmanuelli Nater & Melanie Maldonado Diaz (2014), Ricky Villanueva (2015+), Brendaly Rivera (2015), Irvin Santiago (2019+), Pablo Luis Rivera PhD (2020+), and Gran Maestro Mike Quijano of Raices Profundas Americas (2020+). She has taken workshops in folkloric drum making with Papo DelValle and Juan Fuentes (2004/2007). She was trained in Taino spirituality, history, heritage, language, music and dance traditions by Cacike CacibaOpil Veguilla of Concilio Taino (2007-2023/RIP),

In addition to her ongoing training by Puerto Rican masters of tradition, she continues advancing on her guitar with flamenco guitarist Isai Chacon (Director of A'lante Flamenco). Tekina-eirú has also studied a variety of classical forms. She began taking piano lessons at age 5, and in graduate-school studied classical piano with Russian concert pianist Natasha Snitkovsky. In New York and Austin she studied classical dance forms including ballet and jazz; but her favorite memories were character dance performance roles with Austin Dance Ensemble (Arletta Howard-Logan). Her move to Texas in 1992 opened a new world of Mexican folkloric dance, where she trained with Roy Lozano, Chuy Chacon, and Raymundo Guzman if Roy Lozano's Ballet Folklorico de Texas professional company (1993-1997), and Jaime Guerrero (Monterrey, MX). Her past credits include mainstage performances on the Paramount and Zilker Hillside theatres during her years with Roy Lozano's Ballet Folklórico; with them she also co-choreographed and performed in the Cenzontle music video "La Bruja," dedicated to the folklore of Veracruz, Mexico (1998).

Her Taino Spirit

Beyond her cultural mission, Dr. Maynard is a Dreamwork & Master Certified Spiritual Life Coach (trained through International Coach Federation), and a Pastoral Care Specialist (trained through the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education). She is especially passionate about helping those in need of Personal Transformation. and Healthcare/Helping Professionals facing compassion fatigue and burnout. Dr. Maynard has complemented her formal training with professional development in holistic, integrated health and healing, stress management, and ecotherapy.

Kacike Tekina-eirú is the Tribal Chief and Spiritual Leader of Yukayeke Yara Cu (Tribe of the Sacred Place) is a Taino tribe of blood descendants and Guaytiao proudly serving Central Texas. She leads Yara Taino & Guaytiao, the center's active indigenous community who celebrate and share Taino living traditions with the community at-large since 2008. She is a consecrated Naguety (Elder) and a Tekina -- a Teacher of Taino traditions and writer of ceremonial music and dance.

In 2008, Tekina-eirú 's Amerindian Mitochondrial DNA identifying her as Taino from Boriken/Puerto Rico (Haplogroup A-1) was "confirmed" by Juan Carlos Martinez Cruzado, Professor of Genetics at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, and further identified that her family's Boriken origins dated back 6000 years to the ancient peoples that predated the Tainos -- the Arcaicos (The Ancient Ones). The mtDNA results were of no great surprise to her Mom, who wondered what was the question. Read about her Lifetime Journey

Tekina-eiru is a Texas Master Naturalist and enjoys sharing Nature's timeless wisdom through her published book and interactive workshops based in Taino spirituality -- When Nature Sings: A Taino Journey. Her keynote talks and workshops combine nature-centric inspirational anecdotes, original photography, live Taino flute music, and original songs on guitar that remind us that Nature enjoys communicating with humanity through experiences that bring meaning to life. Participants engage in music-making and role playing that reveal insights, encourage meaningful discussion, and provide "tools" to take home that can be used in everyday life. Her workshops serve all ages and interests, and teach "Healers" -- from caregivers to licensed professionals -- a powerful way to renew themselves through a connection to Nature. These works were developed with support of the National Endowment for the Arts, Texas Commission on the Arts, Mid-America Arts Alliance, City of Austin Cultural Arts Division, and Humanities Texas with umbrella support from La Pena.

Bridging Engineering to Arts

Beyond her cultural and coaching credentials, Dr. Maynard is an innovator (11 technology patents) holding a doctorate in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. Her passion for Applied Research matured at IBM Austin where she worked for 20 years. Her unique multidisciplinary expertise has inspired innovative ideas that use lively Puerto Rican traditional dance to teach engineering (STEAM).

Puerto Rican music and dance has always been a very special part of Tekina-eirú's life. She is very proud to share the joy of rich traditions with her community, and hand down cultural heritage to the next generation!

For more information, see Founding Director's:

  • Dr. Maynard's Bio Sketch (short)
  • Executive CV / Non Profit Sector
  • Cultural Arts Addendum (Grants Awarded)
  • Technical Leadership / Engineering CV

                                                                                                                Photo Credit

    For more information:
    Dr. Ana María Tekina-eirú Maynard
    Puerto Rican Cultural Center
    Cultural Center Address: 701 Tillery Street #13, Austin TX 78702-3738 (Map & Directions)
    Mailing Address: 15228 Quiet Pond Court, Austin TX 78728-4555
    Phone: +1.512.251.8122      Email: dance@prfdance.org          Web: www.prfdance.org     
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