Inspiring Artists Stories
Today we'd like to introduce you to Anthony Aceves of AkomiDance
Current Location: Orange County, Ca
Anthony, thank you for taking the time to share your story. Could you start by telling us a little about yourself?
Dance has always been a part of my life, even when I didn’t know it. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved to get a group of people together and teach them choreography. I once got a group of boys to give up their recess to rehearse two Backstreet Boys numbers to perform at a school talent show. Little did I know that would lead to a lifetime of dancing, directing, choreographing, and now producing dance all over the world.
Throughout Jr. High and High School I directed and choreographed school musicals, became a dance team choreographer in 9th grade, and was eventually introduced to the outside dance industry my senior year. It wasn’t until then that I discovered an entire world, a community of people who not only loved this art form, but needed it.
I don’t have a traditional dance education but I am so grateful for the experiences that I’ve had, the work that has helped shape my own, and the people who’ve inspired me to exist comfortably as a fellow artist among them.
I always knew that I wanted to have my own company and it wasn't until I met Marie Hoffman that that dream started to become a reality. After an amazing experience working together during her summer dance program, we knew that we were meant to keep working and creating together. We are now the Artistic Directors of AkomiDance and as a younger company we have already accomplished more than we could’ve ever expected. This past year our company became 501c3 non-profit, we produced the 5th annual (4th live) Orange County Dance Festival, and we are proudly continuing to evolve while creating new work for stage and film. Our Executive Director, Alex Rasmussen, with the help of our incredible Board of Directors, are working tirelessly to make sure that our artistic vision is seen, our mission is fulfilled, and that we are able to continue providing opportunities for dance to thrive in our community.
Without getting into my entire resume, I am very proud to be able to look back at my body of work and feel a sense of pride. I have studied dance, performance, production, and direction hands on for more than half my life and I don’t plan to stop any time soon. I’ve recently taken on my newest endeavor of returning to school and working to obtain an Entertainment Business degree. As I move forward in the world of dance, it is my driving passion to provide opportunities for artists’ work to be seen, for dancers to have long lasting and viable careers, and for this art form to receive the respect and recognition it deserves in pop culture.
Can you tell us a little more about what you've been working on recently?
In 2018 I founded The Fox Project as a branch of The Foxes and The Vixens Show - created by Kia Sisowath. These two companies are an exciting fusion of burlesque and cabaret style shows and are deeply involved and dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community. I’ve had the wonderful pleasure of choreographing for both of them for many years at an exciting array of events and venues. After establishing my own place as a member of The Foxes, I was thrilled to have Kia, and the rest of the group’s full support in creating my own vision for the company. Without them, The Fox Project definitely would not have existed. The simplified way that I’ve come to describe us is “a boy band that doesn’t sing.” In reality, this group is all about intricate, stylized, and energizing choreography that celebrates music from all genres and eras. While the Vixens and Foxes continue to dominate stages all over L.A. and O.C., it seems like The Fox Project has found its own niche in creating dance videos. We have a lot of fun producing weekly content for social media and our collective passions really shine through in the bigger projects we’ve been able to produce. Jokingly, I often refer to us as a “boy band that doesn’t sing.” But I can’t deny the bit of truth that it does often feel like I’m living out my childhood dream. Anyone can watch our work and find out when they can see us perform live by visiting our instagram @the_fox_project.
The life of a Performing Artist can be challenging, and sometimes the best way to grow is to learn from other people's experiences. Can you tell us about any obstacles or challenges you've faced along your journey?
I try my best to embrace every opportunity to learn, and I believe those lessons are rooted in the obstacles that we face. As I mentioned before, my dance education was somewhat unorthodox. I didn’t grow up in a studio and wasn't introduced to the actual study of dance until much later in life. I used to get in my head about this and it would have a very negative effect on my confidence and motivation. My own anxieties and insecurities have always been my biggest obstacles.
It wasn’t until my early twenties that I started to shift from the mindset that my dance education was somehow inadequate. I now consider my experience to be completely customized and full of invaluable substance and knowledge. I had the opportunity to hone my craft at a very early age. I’ve had many teachers who’ve allowed me to take charge of my own education, offered pathways to new realms of performing arts, and provided me with safe spaces to fail and evolve. I feel so lucky to have been able to experience so much, so young, and to be in a place now where I can continue my education in a way that feels very empowering.
I really hope that I can be an inspiration to anyone who feels that they’re “too old” or “not experienced enough” to accomplish their own dreams. There isn’t any right way or a single path to executing our goals and each of our timelines are unique. You can forever discover new versions of yourself by finding every opportunity to learn and allowing yourself to experience messing up.
I feel so lucky to have the support system that I do. The people in my corner are always there to remind me what I’m capable of, especially when I forget. They are like-minded artists and loved ones who celebrate my, and each other’s, achievements. With them, there’s no limit to the mountains I can climb.
What's the best piece of advice you've received?
My mom has always given me the best advice. Even though she raised me with a lot of the values she grew up with, she always encouraged me to follow my own instincts. My mom has never stopped learning, she’s constantly challenging herself and has never let anyone or anything stand in the way of her evolution. I like to think I’m a lot like her, or at least strive to be.
When I was younger and first started going on acting auditions my mom was there with me every step of the way, from booking gigs to the silent rejections. She used to remind me of something, almost like a mantra, whenever I was feeling insecure about my skills, or my chances at 'making it'. “There’s always going to be someone better than you, in one way or another. And you will always be better than someone else. So there’s no use comparing yourself to anyone. There is only one you, so give them that.” Like always, mom is right. she’ll love that I said that publicly. My mom has always challenged me. Am I doing everything I can to reach my potential? What more can I be doing? What all am I capable of?
Where do you draw inspiration from when creating? When it comes to my choreographic work I very much like to celebrate universal and relatable human experiences. I pull inspiration from my own trials and triumphs and translate them to have a spectrum of meanings. I want the audience to be able to take ownership of what they’re witnessing on stage. Live concert dance has to be conversational between the artist and the viewer. That mutual involvement in the work is what separates it from dance for the purposes of entertainment. Having that connection is what keeps me driven to keep creating.
Anthony's Instagram: @anthony_aceves
AkomiDance Instagram: @akomidance
The Fox Project Instagram: @the_fox_project
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