With a resume filled with success, Akpan is quickly becoming internationally celebrated for what she does. Just recently, she performed for Skepta at the world renowned 02 in London. She was also a part of the Global 12 Festival, dancing for new solo artist Kiara Marzella, who was so impressed with the dancer that she now will be joining the soloist for other performances. Furthermore, Akpan has been the lead dancer in multiple music videos. She had a solo piece in JayEss’ “Intoxicated” video, amassing tens of thousands of views on YouTube. She also choreographed the “Entertain You” video for Funky Twinz featuring N. Kay, in charge of all the other dancers while dancing in the video herself.
Choreography is an impressive skill of Akpan’s. For Prince’s Revelation Tribute Show, the dancer choreographed the entire thing, including the Mark Anthony solo parts. She contributed to the show in a massive way, and without her, the visual aspect of the show would never have been what it was, creating a true tribute to the iconic performer that Prince was.
She also did this in Thriller Live, a tribute to the childhood, career, and Journey for Michael Jackson. As Lead Dancer, Akpan enhanced the entire show, and was on every single dance piece. It was the highlight of her career.
“I am a perfectionist, and my drive is constantly at an all-time high. I believe dance is something that allows me to escape from the real world, and it also takes me away from a lot of the things that have caused me pain in the past,” said Akpan.
Akpan is extremely versatile, and her talents extend to cheerleading as well as just dance. She was a part of the famous London Cheerleaders. The London Cheerleaders cheer at an extensive number of events, promoting various products and working with some of the UK’s largest television networks.
“I wanted to be a part of The London Cheerleaders because I had never been on a cheerleading team before. The whole idea seemed like so much fun. Being able to perform in football and rugby stadiums was something I always wanted to do. Plus being able to train one to two times per week was so appealing to me whilst waiting on jobs with the squad, I could train with insanely talented girls and also better my own skill,” said Akpan.
While with The London Cheerleaders, Akpan attended training and represented the team at shows, gigs, and events they were hired for. She was consistently front and center for the events, and even was the lead in a promotional video for the team’s YouTube channel.
“The thing I liked about working with the London Cheerleaders was I got to train on my skills and dance a lot. I got to learn from many different talented dancers would were a part of the team. I got to meet people from all over the world, which was a great thing too, as there was a lot of overseas dancers apart of squad,” said Akpan.
Initially, Akpan saw the advertisement for cheerleading auditions at the Pineapple Dance Studio in London.The submission date had past, but there was an option to send an audition video to the email. Despite being late, Akpan decided to send her audition type in. The next day, she received a call from Emily Rutherford, the manager of The London Cheerleaders at the time. Rutherford was so impressed with the video, she asked Akpan to come for the first training and meet and greet as soon as possible.
“I was searching for talented dancers for my cheerleading company The London Cheerleaders when I met Maria. She is charming, talented, and a great team leader. For most of the routines or promotional videos, shows and gigs, Maria was always placed at the front and center, as I know she could always deliver. Her drive, kind heart, and wonderful spirit is something everyone enjoys. Maria is a perfectionist, so what makes her incredible at what she does is all the hard work and hours she puts into her craft,” said Rutherford.
Although Akpan had never done cheerleading prior to this experience, she picked it up extremely quickly. The foundations of cheerleading and dance are very similar, but having the pom poms can create an unexpected obstacle for those unfamiliar with them. The pomp oms need to be highlighted in the choreography, so movements that would regularly be small in dance are much bigger. Akpan picked this up with ease.
“Being a part of the squad was fantastic experience, and working and learning from such a big team, it definitely taught me a lot about being a team player,” concluded Akpan.
Those looking to share some of Akpan’s talent can take her dance class “LinesNsaucewithmimi”, which is currently a large success in London. She plans on taking the class around the world to inspire young women to believe in themselves. Be sure to keep an eye out for it near you.