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Meet Maria Akpan of Dancefitwithmimi in North Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maria Akpan.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Maria. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
From a very young age, my dream was to become a professional 100m sprint athlete and to run for my country Great Britain. Due to a lot of personal issues I had to step away from training, then slowly after I found dance and started attending weekly classes as a hobby. My teachers and everyone told me that I was really good & natural performer. But for me, it was still a hobby at the time and I didn’t take it that serious. I was told I should continue dancing, to improve on my techniques & learn different genres of dance.

Soon after finishing high school, I decided to moved to the capital (London) as it was necessary for more dance opportunities. I was supporting myself, working three different jobs & training at Pineapple studios as much as I could in my free time, at the age of 20. The more I trained the greater my love for dance grew and I wanted to take more risks.

Later that year I gatecrashed an audition for a big westend Musical “Thiller Live” (tribute to Michael Jackson’s life story) in London. I surprisingly booked the job without no agent, as it was a closed audition. From this first professional job, I learnt a lot about myself, life, the industry, dance & people, etc… I grew tremendously.

Soon after, my contract in the show I took the time out to figure my life’s purpose out. I done gigs, shows, played leads & choreographed music videos, whilst still trying to figure out what I wanted to do. After two years of traveling to train in dance & learning from some of the best choreographers in the industry, in places like NYC, LA… I complete fell in love not only with America but with dance again. I auditioned for Movement Talent Agency (MTA), which was an open call. Hundreds of people there and I didn’t think I had a chance. Surprisingly, they wanted to sign me which therefore would helped me with obtaining my visa. I had a new goal, my dream as a performer/dancer was to move to LA to pursue my dreams as professional.

I returned to London and started looking at all the possibilities & options to make my new goal my reality. I didn’t know how I was to obtain my 01 artist visa (as it’s not an easy visa to obtain) but I focused on researching what I needed to get in order to make it all happen. The year of 2018, I was granted my visa & moved to LA. I’ve been living here for one year now pursuing my dreams as a professional dancer. Be involved in a lot of awesome projects, gigs, shows, music videos & learning from the world’s best dance educators is everything I once dreamt about and here I am living it and doing my best. I am very grateful!!!

LA can be tough & can be a little overwhelming at times but pushing through doubt, fear, working hard, being nice & staying true to yourself will always take you far. I would like to thank my amazing mentors/teachers for such wonderful guidance, knowledge & training since moving to LA, Aisha Francis & Cameron Lee are two teachers I have been regularly taking weekly classes from & I couldn’t thank them enough for all I have gain & yet to gain!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
No… I can’t lie! One of the struggles I faced was not having my family there as much as I would like, due to being in a different country & time zone difference. The UK is 8hrs ahead so getting use to that adjustment was hard at first, but now it’s manageable.

Dancefitwithmimi – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from others?
I’m a professional Dancer. I’m trained in many styles from Jazz funk, heels, hip-hop, dancehall, afro & modern. I am best known for heels. I love & feel most empowered dancing in them. I also teach kids & adults, privates & have also choreographed music videos. I am very passion about helping & empowering people to do more & be better in whatever walk of life they have chosen.

A couple of years ago I wouldn’t know how to answer this question? What sets you apart from others? From many years of self development I know myself and still learning new things.

I am a natural born performer & have over 10 years in the industry as a learning & working dancer. I am always improving my skills, learning about movement & being a better person. Although it not always about skills, your experience/attitude & being the full package plays a massive part in this industry. So I do my best to look after my mind, body soul & appearance. But most of all I am aware of my strengths & weakness which allows me to act accordingly on whatever & whenever I need improvements. Which ultimately will make me a better human & dancer. I allow myself to take risks, I believe in god and have taken leaps of faith many times that have served me will.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I think everyone definition of success is different. Mine has changed over the years. I use to think only working with A-list artists & going viral makes dancers & choreographers successful. Now as older & much wiser dancer, I believe adding value, being a positive impact in the community & treating everybody like they are somebody is a success in itself.

I measure success by how much time you spend doing what you love (freedom). Also by how far you have come (progress) & most important how many lives you’ve improved & make a positive impact on.

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