Topics: Entertainment, NZ Music

Māori teen shines in Ciara's new hit

By Aroha Awarau

Maiya Smith is only 13 but she's in a class of her own in the latest music video of US popstar, Ciara. 

The song, Level Up, has to date been watched more than 11 million times around the world, launching the latest dance craze.

But the Hamilton teen, a protégé of New Zealand's very own Palace Dance Studio, has her feet firmly on the ground.

“When I first started at the Palace I didn’t think I’ll be where I am today.  Especially being from Hamilton, just a young girl wanting to chase her dreams,” she says.

The popular music video, directed and coreographed by Parris Goebel, starts with Maiya interacting with Ciara.  It also features Goebel's dance crew, Request.

“When I first saw it, I was just dancing my way to the music.  I was singing loud as, screaming at the same time.“

Ciara made a special visit to NZ to shoot the video and had only 12 hours to learn the choreography, which has become the latest dance craze.

“When I’m on stage, I just have a certain mindset, try my best and always reach higher.”

Trained in ballet and jazz, Maiya changed to hip-hop when she joined Parris Goebel’s dance company, The Palace, three years ago.

She says Goebel is her inspiration.

“Parris giving me this opportunity is so amazing.  Everything that I do wouldn’t be possible without her.”

This year Maiya started high school in Hamilton. Since her success, she’s focused on setting her goals even higher.  She dreams of dancing next to the pop princess, Rihanna.

“As I get older, I’m still going to remember everyone and I’m still going to be proud of who I am, my culture and my whanau.”