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Meet Maia Southers

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maia Southers.

Maia, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I am a 20 years old dancer from Los Angeles currently going to school for dance. I started dancing when I was two and a half years old. The classic story I tell people about how I started to dance is every day when I was two, my mom would take me to her gym Angel City and drop me off at the kids club. When she was finished, she would pick me up, and we would walk out the back into the parking lot. The gyms dance studio always left their door open, since it became overheated easily. Walking past the door, the blasting music intrigued me. I would run away from my mom and stand at the doorway, where I would dance my heart out. On one of those days, a woman approached my mom telling her she’s going to be a dancer! To which my mom replied, she will never be a dancer. She is going to be an academic. Her father would never let her do that! And well, here we are.

I actually come from a family of dancers. Many people in my family have danced at one time or another, especially my mom. My mom wanted me to try different things to see what I liked and did not like, but I always came back to dance. I did gymnastics from age four to ten and gave it up when it was getting in the way of my dance practices, same for basketball and softball.

I took a break in middle school for about a year taking dance classes on and off and mostly focusing on other sports. I joined a different studio from the studio I had been with since I started. I struggled to make friends, something I had never really experienced and was very unhappy. I later joined my old studio again but was not in their spring recital because I had joined late. However, when I went to support my friends and saw them dancing, I realized I missed the stage; that’s when I began to get more serious. In high school, I worked harder than I had before and had never really considered dance as a career. As I applied for colleges, I was planning to major in business or dance, depending on what I could get into. When it came to decision time, I chose dance over business school, and I couldn’t be happier about my decision!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has definitely not been a smooth road for me. I have struggled with a lot of issues along the way. I sacrificed a lot to go to practice every day. Mainly a social life in high school as I was up late every night doing homework because I got home from dance at either 9:30 or 10 every day, but I never wanted it any other way. I have also had my fair share of body image issues as every other dancer I know has. Being a bigger girl has held me back at times and made things difficult for me, both physically and emotionally. It’s difficult when your costume doesn’t fit or does not work for your body type, or you are judged or looked at differently than other people, and you just have to plaster a smile and try to show it doesn’t bother you.

That is what I have dealt with since I was a kid, and as much as I wish it were not the case, it is most likely what I will continue to deal with as long as I am a dancer. What I’ve learned is if you love what you do enough, you will find a way to deal with the criticisms. If they are valid, listen, and if they are just hating, ignore them as hard as that can sometimes be. However, I am glad that the industry is always changing, and different body types are starting to be accepted. No one should feel uncomfortable doing what they love because of their body type. Anyone should be able to dance no matter what their size is.

What else should our readers know?
In addition to wanting to be a professional dancer, I am a dance teacher, artist, and photographer! I also have been wanting to start a youtube channel in which I share my journey as a dancer, as well as a college student during the pandemic.

What were you like growing up?
Growing up, I was the peacemaker. That is what every teacher put on my report card from kindergarten through high school. I was pretty calm and easygoing most of the time, and when I was with my friends, I was chaotic and crazy. I was always friends with everyone and always wished for everyone to get along. Dance and gymnastics were my favorite things to do, and when I wasn’t at practice, I loved to draw and paint. Ironically just like dance, drawing, and painting also runs in my family as my grandpa was an amazing artist. My brother is also really amazing at drawing as well. For a while, I wanted to become a Disney animator, but just like everything else, dance won over.

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Image Credit:

Isabella Shmelev, Blanka Thomas, Maia Southers

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