Maria Akpan does not see herself just as a dancer. For the British native, dancing is far more than moving a beat to music; she is an artist, looking to convey an emotion to her audience; Maria Akpan is a storyteller, taking viewers along a journey. With each performance, Akpan brings a vision to life, making people feel something and allowing her audience to relate and heal at that moment through movement.
“I always wanted to do something more with dance, like send out a message and help people through something or help them feel better about feelings they have suppressed and really connect with them,” she said.
Throughout her seasoned career, Akpan has shown audiences all over the world just why she is considered an industry-leading dancer in Britain. Her performances on the Prince Revelation Show, the Thriller Live musical in the Westend, Santa Monica’s “Pride on the Promenade” with Maggie Szabo, and many more have allowed her to showcase her talent and versatility. Whether working on a stage in front of a live crowd or in front of the camera, Akpan knows how to command the audience’s attention.
Last year, Akpan had the opportunity to be a part of the BET Experience, a wildly popular event hosted by BET for three days leading up to the BET Awards.
Akpan grew up watching the BET Awards, so being invited to take part in the Milano Di Rouge Fashion Show for the BET Experience was a dream come true. As a lead dancer for the event, she opened the fashion show for the designer’s new collection.
They were looking for a very powerful opening. Akpan had to be on point at all times with the sharp, clean, and powerful choreography. While performing, she had the added challenge of still showcasing the clothing and conveying the brand’s strong message.
“Working with Maria was so easy and peaceful. I didn’t have to worry too much about anything as she was professional, extremely talented, and committed to the project. Maria exudes charm and grace. She is always willing to learn new things and doesn’t shy away from asking the right questions, which I love,” said Vanessa Avery, the choreographer of the fashion show.
Avery only gave a select five people a solo during the performance and Akpan was one of them, who had a solo in the opening. Avery wanted someone who could portray strength while not moving much. Being selected was a great honor for Akpan, and she wanted to do it justice. Receiving a standing ovation at the end of it all made that determination well worth it.
“I loved working with a small group of dancers I’ve never met and worked with before. It’s all a learning experience and I am grateful for it. I also loved how powerful the message of unity was to open the show; I don’t think anyone was expecting dancers to open the show wearing Milano Di Rouge’s collection. It gave me the opportunity to model as well as dance, so I was living two dreams in one experience,” said Akpan.
As an added bonus and perhaps the most exciting part for Akpan, a fashion lover, she got to keep the clothes! It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the dancer, and one she will never forget.
Soon, Akpan will be working with (Tru.P) @Trudotp as lead dancer and choreographer, and also as a dancer at Flaunt Entertainment @flauntgogo many gigs coming up soon and much more. Keep an eye out for her many upcoming projects.