Choreography, concept, directing and editing by Maya Alvarez-Coyne
Filmed by Gavin Alvarez-Coyne
The current state of our world and the City of Angels inspired this piece. Los Angeles, the place we call “home”, doesn't feel the same as it did before the pandemic. Although we all feel out of place, perhaps this change was meant to be. This change is an opportunity for us to grow together as we fight through these challenging times as a city. I wanted to capture as much of L.A. as I could into this dance film; from our beautiful beaches to the city’s limitless possibilities. I choreographed this piece to the song "Home" by Owen Luebbers, which seemed only fitting because L.A. is my home, my city. Using contemporary and Irish dancing as my gateway to tell our story, I hope I can share a message of unity, perseverance and passion.
Photo credit from left to right: Grant Parfery, Teresa Koehler, Michael Prine
Maya Alvarez-Coyne is an all-style dancer and actress. Her career has spanned TV, film, dance, and live performances. Maya is currently a high school senior attending Orange County School of the Arts, where she attends the Commercial Dance Conservatory. Maya currently trains with Butler Fearon O'Connor School of Irish Dance in Southern California and Toronto, Canada. Maya started dancing at the age of two and a half and booked her first SAG National advertisement with Target at the age of seven. For such a young dancer and actress, Maya's work ethic has taken her very far.
Her dance training began with Christy Curtis Buss, and she is also classically trained in ballet with Lauren Richter of the Richter Ballet Academy. Maya is currently dancing with the Reverb Tap Company, directed by Leah Silva. Maya has also received numerous awards and scholarships, and was featured on Irish Dancing Magazine as Covergirl, where she works as a social media and advertising intern. She has performed with the Riverdance Company in Dublin (2018-2019); Eireann A Taste of Ireland show in New York (2020); Concert4Cancer – Marie Keating Foundation, aired on PBS in Dublin (2019); Justin Bieber's Purpose World Tour (2016); WE Day hip-hop dancer with performers Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato, televised on ABC (2016 and 2017); and Industry Dance Awards jazz and hip-hop dancer with Liz Imperio and Dave Scott (2015 and 2016).
Recent honors include: All-Ireland Irish Dance Champion (2020); World Irish Dance Championships – 4th place (2019); Western Region Irish Dance Champion (2015 to present); YoungArts Winner (2019 & 2020); Orange County Register's Artist of the Year for World Culture Dance (2020); OC Magazine's Top 10 Whiz Kid (2017). Maya was named a Grand Prize Finalist in The Music Center’s Spotlight (2020) and is the recipient of a scholarship from the Laguna Festival of Dance (2020).
Maya's love for the arts is something she is very passionate about, and she has volunteered thousands of community service hours for charities that support the arts. Serving as Miss Canyon Hills’ Outstanding Teen 2020/2021, as part of the Miss America Organization, Maya’s social impact initiative is Teen Fitness through Dance. Having traveled around the world to perform, she has also been a guest virtually during this pandemic. Maya volunteers her time on Zoom with young dancers worldwide to help them stay motivated during the COVID pandemic. Maya is currently interning with McCoy Rigby Arts, where she can share her passion with the next generation of dancers. Maya hopes to pursue her education in dance/business to one day work with nonprofits to continue her support of the arts.
What do love about L.A.?
I was born in the City of Angels. Right in the heart of L.A. near La Cienega and Venice Blvd. Like so many others, my parents were not born here. Mine migrated here from the faraway lands of Venezuela and New England. L.A. is a great melting pot of diversity, and everyone is a minority. Sometimes even within your own family. That's what I love most about living here. L.A. is where an abundance of cultural diversity is randomly mixed with a little sunshine, grit, and glamour, creating one of the world's most infamous cities. I have had some incredible memories of our family, soaking up all the different cultures and what they have to offer, especially the food. Whatever dish you wish tonight, L.A. has a restaurant for you. Point to any county.
My fondest memories are learning to surf in Malibu and Hip Hop at Millennium Dance Complex in Studio City. From the world-famous beaches to the Hollywood Sign, only L.A. can make a zip code famous.
Things in L.A. tend to be a little pricy. However, the best show in town is free. Head to the beach and catch the longest-running show in L.A. with the biggest star in the solar system, literally. The daily dose of smog and a sun sinking into the Pacific sets the horizon ablaze and is guaranteed to amaze.
I've been fortunate to travel the world through my dance. Whenever I am abroad, people will inevitability ask, "Where are you from?" All I need to say are the two letters that are instantly recognizable in any language "L.A." No other place is so identifiable with only two letters. L.A. is where dreams come true. It is also a city that can crush dreams like the first fortune cookie that debuted here. However, the saddest broken dreams are the ones that are never pursued. What better place to pursue your dreams than the City of Angles?
What inspired you to do this piece?
The Dance Door in Downtown L.A. was the initial inspiration. When I was much younger, I filmed one of my first videos there. It was a fusion piece set to "My House" by Flo Rida. Flo Rida commented on that video, which was so amazing. I've grown as a dancer since then. I wanted to capture how L.A. has opened many doors for me in the dance world. It's a great honor to create a piece that showcases the city I call my hometown.
Why is this music important?
This music is essential because it allows me to express how we are all affected by sheltering in place during COVID. The only connection we had to the outside world was through the news, social media and Zoom calls. Our house didn't feel like the home it once was. It was no longer the place where people gathered in person to share stories of joy and sorrow. As Owen Luebbers sings in his song "Home," maybe we are the ones who have changed. As a city, we are going through this pandemic together, learning and growing through these challenging times. I hope the music I have chosen captures this message. I want to give a huge thank you to Owen Luebbers for allowing me to use this fantastic piece of music. I'm so grateful to dedicate this piece in memory of Ian Luebbers.
Why did you pick these locations?
My love for L.A. is one of the biggest reasons for picking the locations. The ocean is a symbol of serenity and calm. The Urban Lights outside of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art helps us see through the darkness of social injustice. The Griffith Park Observatory city view watches over the entire city and connects the City of Angels to the heavens above. The murals represent what is happening now and reminding us to learn from our past.
The Music Center is where my vision and goals started as a young dancer dreaming that one day I could unite all dance forms in my work and now have come full circle. The Dance Door taught me that while some doors are closed, we can build our doors of opportunity. I hope this inspires the next generation of artists to follow their dreams as well.
What do you want people to take away after watching your film?
To be kind to each other and know we all have our struggles. We are all changing, and we need to bring more love, peace and kindness within our city and continue to share our uniqueness because that is what makes L.A. the City of Angles.