When Maria Akpan steps onto the dance floor, every fiber of her being comes to life. For Akpan, dancing is a language in and of itself, a language which she speaks fluently. The remarkably talented British native has crafted her artistry in such a way that allows her to perform, to teach, to observe, and to communicate with others through her movement. It’s what she loves to do more than anything else, and she makes her living out of that passion.
“Dance allows me to express myself in ways that conversations will never do. It’s something that makes me happy, even in my saddest moments. It brings joy and freedom into my life in a way that nothing else does. It is what I love to do,” tells Akpan.
With a devotion to dance as strong as Akpan’s, it isn’t a surprise that she has established a solid professional career around it. Whether she is choreographing, teaching, or starring, she is well-known for her ability to enhance any production she works on. Her drive is inspiring and her skill set is profound. The highly sought-after dancer is familiar with the center of several stages, having danced in world renowned productions like Thriller Live and Mark Anthony’s Prince Revelation Tribute Show. She has also danced and choreographed for viral music videos, such as JayEss’ "Intoxicated" and Nahide Kazim’s, also known as N. Kay, "Entertain You".
When Nahide Kazim was looking for a talented choreographer to craft the perfect ensemble for her first ever music video, she knew that Akpan was the woman for the job. Having seen Akpan’s work on social media, she was itching to have the talented dancer create something authentic and entertaining for her video. Upon approaching Akpan about the opportunity, she was thrilled to have her accept. The true thrill, however, came later when she learned what Akpan had in mind for her hit single, "Entertain You". Due to the fact that this was Kazim’s first single, she needed it to be big and she needed it to make a strong impact on the industry. She was confident that Akpan had the skill and expertise to bring her vision to life and she was eager to see the result. What she hadn’t envisioned, however, was just how invaluable Akpan’s contributions would be to the project.
“I worked with Maria on my first ever music video for my song, "Entertain You". She ended up not only choreographing the video, but also being my lead dancer. Working with Maria was an absolute joy. Her creative mind and talent added so much more to our set and to my video. It is because of her skills and contributions that my music video was such a success and I am incredibly pleased to have worked with her. I have worked with a lot of other people since my first single, but there’s something about Maria’s talent and work ethic that are just untouchable. Beyond that, she has a wonderful presence when you work with her and she is a pleasure to be around,” recalls Kazim.
Thanks to the quality of work that Akpan brought to the project, through both her choreography and her position as lead dancer, the video earned hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube alone. In addition to YouTube, it was published on several other social media sites and platforms. It even aired on MTV Music the year it was released and still airs from time to time today. Akpan became used to receiving calls from friends and family raving about her performance after seeing it on television. Her unique style is contagious and when other artists witness her in action, they cannot help but approach her to lend her talents to their own projects. Beyond friends and family, other dancers would contact Akpan to request that she dance in their shows or choreograph numbers for them. Akpan, on the other hand, is simply humbled by the recognition that she received for the video and grateful for the opportunity to share her skill set with other artists just like her.
“Working with Funky Twinz and N. Kay was a true pleasure. They reminded me that through a combination of hard work and remaining true to my artistry, I will excel through my career. They trusted me with their vision and despite the pressures of the project, I enjoyed the challenge it brought me as a dancer. I am so grateful to have done this job,” reflects Akpan.
Despite her esteemed career, Akpan has no plans on slowing down. She recently danced for well-known British rap and hip-hop artist, Skepta, in London. She was also part of Global 12 Festival dancing for a new solo artist called Kiara Marzella. Marzella is taking the industry by storm and will be making use of Akpan’s talents on an ongoing basis. Besides these projects, she continues to teach her wildly successful dance class called “LinesNSaucewithmimi”. No matter what she works on, however, Akpan is simply grateful to be able to continue to communicate with the world through the language she speaks best.