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Meet Maria Luisa “Lu” Mejia

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maria Luisa “Lu” Mejia.

Hi Maria, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
My name is Maria Luisa Mejia (I go by Lu) and I am a Colombian, bilingual, professional dancer, journalist, writer, photographer, and content creator who recently graduated from The New School with a major in Culture and Media and a minor in Journalism.

I first moved to New York City after graduating from high school and completed a one-year International Student Visa Program at Broadway Dance Center. At the time, I thought the dance was all I wanted to do, but after my mom got me my first DSLR camera as a parting gift I started exploring photography and visual media and fell in love with it as well.

While I was in the program I started doing free shoots with my international friends who didn’t have enough money to pay a professional photographer or videographer but wanted to take some NYC footage back home with them. This is when I realized I was passionate about creating dance-related visual content and it was something I wanted to pursue.

I applied for a BA in Media Studies at The New School and the rest is history! I did photography freelance work all throughout my college career and eventually got more comfortable with it. I also found a passion for Digital Art and Graphic Design in school and I am currently pursuing a career focused on that.

Overall, my goal is to be able to mix all of my passions into a creative career. I continue to train in dance professionally while working with different companies that focus on performing arts and create visual content for them. I am passionate about all types of art and media and I am happy I get to be creative every day!

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
The biggest challenge I have faced is being an International person living in a country that doesn’t necessarily make it easy for us to pursue our passions. I am currently in the process of getting my O1 artist visa, which is a lengthy process.

There are many barriers that we, as foreign artists, have to deal with just because we chose to pursue our passions in a different location and which our US national peers might not even be aware of. It is not their fault, but it can feel like a lengthier road most of the time.

Also, time management is a big challenge for me. I am happy to say I am currently employed full-time, but as a freelance creative and dancer, it is hard to say no from time to time. I end up over booking myself just because I am afraid the opportunities will stop coming, and therefore I work over time and have no days off.

I am very appreciative of what I am able to do every day! But I could also do with some more rest time.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I am currently working part-time in the non-profits sector as the Communications and Events Assistant at Dancing Classrooms NYC, where I assist with content creation, social media management, engagement, editing and planning.

I also do marketing coordination and management for two organizations you might know a thing or two about 😉 The contemporary-opera producer (in LA and NY) Beth Morrison Projects and the Youth Department of the world-known dance studio: Broadway Dance Center.

I design and manage all the content that is shared on their social platforms and am in constant contact with artists such as Opera Singer Nathan Gunn and composer Du Yun, who will be performing a new one-man opera this month at LA Opera.

I am also a professional dancer based in New York City and have lots of experience creating arts-related content. I’ve created meaningful connections with professional dancers, choreographers and NYC and LA faculty such as Kenichi Kasamatsu, Neil Schwartz, Emily Greenwell, Hayden J Frederick, Ashle Dawson and Bo Park. I am currently part of The Catastrophe!, the contemporary fusion dance company directed by the Millenium Faculty member: Cat Cogliandro.

My goal at the moment is to continue to work in the arts and dance media field while staying in touch with dance and the dance community I’ve grown into.

I am also passionate about photography, which is how I started in the visual arts field. I am currently exploring analog photography and find lots of joy in shooting 35mm film with friends. Additionally, I am constantly asked to shoot dance performances for professional companies such as aKompany, Koin&Co, and Arts In Motion (AIM).

The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
Yes! I learned that I am a homebody and have no problem staying inside, but also I really enjoy getting to be back creating with people. I appreciate community now more than ever.

Specially as artists, having people that inspire you close by is really important because we need to refill our creative energies somehow!

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Lu Mejia Gutierrez and Mulan Film

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