Irvine 13-year-old dances with Justin Bieber after winning national competition

When Maya Alvarez-Coyne got called to the front of the studio at the end of a dance class not long ago, the Irvine 13-year-old’s first thought was something along the lines of “uh-oh.”

“I thought, ‘Did I mess up or something?’” Maya says. Far from it, she quickly learned, once her mom, teacher and friends helped share the news.

Maya had won an online competition to dance on stage with Justin Bieber during the pop star’s concert in Orlando on Thursday, and for a teenager who loves dance and loves the Bieb, well, that’s pretty much the sweetest news there can be.

“The whole ride home I was jumping up and down,” Maya says. “I’ve been a huge fan of Justin’s since ‘Baby’ came out in 2010. I’ve never seen him in concert. I’ve never met him before.

“So to be able to meet him for the first time when I’m on stage dancing with him is great, because I’m a huge fan of his and I love dancing, too.

“It’s a combination of everything I love,” she says.

It was March when Maya says she saw on the Instagram pages for Bieber and Nick Demoura, his choreographer and tour creative director, word of the dance contest that would give as many as four young dancers a chance to perform with Bieber on stage during the song “Children” on Bieber’s Ongoing Purpose Tour.

Demoura posted a YouTube video that demonstrated the choreography he wanted contestants to learn and then videotape and upload to YouTube. Maya says she learned the steps and moves and then threw in a little something extra to hopefully make her video stand out from the pack.

“They asked us to do some improv and I thought, ‘Why not do Irish dancing, since it’s a little bit different and you don’t normally see hip-hop and Irish dancing together,’” she says.

Irish dancing, we should note, is why Maya chose to try for Bieber’s Orlando concert instead of something closer to home. She’s the top Irish dancer in her age group in the country and ranked eighth in the world, and was already planning to be in Orlando for the 2016 North American Irish Dance Championships this weekend.

Like many girls, she started dance classes young, taking ballet and tap when she was 3.

“Each year, Irish dance groups would come perform at my church on St. Patrick’s Day,” Maya says. “I’d always ask my mom but they said I was too young.

“Finally when I was 5 and I got to do it I was really excited and super pumped and I’ve done it ever since,” she says.

At the Orange County School of the Arts, she’s in the commercial dance conservatory, which she loves for the exposure it provides her to every kind of dance. Not surprisingly she hopes to make dance part of her career, perhaps touring as a professional dancer with singers and musicians as a young adult, and later teaching or maybe incorporating her interest in biological sciences, kinesiology or similar fields that combine the art and science of movement.

“I know whatever I do is always going to have to involve dance or movement,” Maya says. “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do a sit-down desk job because I don’t really think I’ll be able to sit down that long.”

On Thursday afternoon, she was about two hours from dress rehearsal for the Bieber concert in Orlando, yet professed not to be all that nervous.

“So far I don’t feel any nerves,” Maya says. “I just feel my heart pounding in excitement. Ahhhh! I can’t believe it!”

As for which part of her week in Florida – dancing with Bieber as one of two kids who won the contest or potentially defending her national title in Irish dancing for kids born in 2003 – she insisted she could not say.

“Whoooo, they’re both so exciting – that’s a hard one!” Maya says. “They’re both great experiences. It’s just so amazing.

“I’m just so grateful for all of these opportunities I’ve been given. I just feel so blessed right now.”

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