A Hamilton teen is dancing his way into the hearts and minds of the community and using our city as a breathtaking backdrop.
Joseph Mazino, an 18-year-old resident whose smooth moves and slick stylings have earned him tens of thousands of social media followers, has been using these platforms to showcase his incredible talent and promote positivity at a time when we need it most.
“I’ve been dancing since I was nine years old,” Mazino, who prefers to go by his surname, told InTheHammer. “It’s my passion. I want to inspire others to just get out there and do what they’re passionate about.”
Mazino and his family moved to Winnipeg from Nigeria last year. In January of this year, the family settled in Hamilton.
Since then, his Instagram feed is filled with videos of Mazino, sporting his signature mask, and his friends dancing in locales around Hamilton.
The videos themselves are mesmerizing and beautiful as the depth of the dancers’ talent is undeniable. They also showcase the city in a creative and positive light.
When he first came to Hamilton earlier this year, Mazino said he met some people who told him he wouldn’t get the kind of support in this community that he might find in a larger city like Toronto.
When he heard that, Mazino says he brushed it off and didn’t let that deter him from doing what he loves.
“If I listened to [them] I would’ve given up on Hamilton,” he said. “No matter where I am at, my light will always shine.
“I’ve met a lot of people since I came here and we’re going to change the city. If I can inspire people [in Nigeria] I can do it here.”
He’s attracted a lot of attention from Hamiltonians, including MP Matthew Green who has personally reached out to Mazino to express his awe and to thank the teen for his positivity.
While Mazino says he took several dance classes over the course of his young life, he says he’s mostly self-taught.
“I tried taking classes, but I would get better than my teachers,” he joked. “I just like to vibe to the music. I don’t have a particular style.”
Since he was 15, Mazino has been producing his viral dance videos with the help of fellow dancers and artists who he’s befriended over the course of his life and travels.
Early on, Mazino’s videos gained a lot of attention and he was offered promotional opportunities.
He became so popular, that he was featured in a music video for Fortune Angelo, a renowned Nigerian choreographer, pop/R n’ B singer and actor, and one of Mazino’s idols.
“I was just doing what I loved and all this happened,” he said. “[In Nigeria], people don’t have big dreams. People kept telling me how they felt inspired by what I was doing. It made me not want to give up on my dream or myself.”
Mazino says his family has been behind him every step of the way in his journey to achieve his dreams.
“My mom and dad are my inspiration,” he said. “They’re with me 100 per cent. They’re so sure that something big is going to happen.”
His followers are also a great source of motivation and inspiration, he says.
“They keep me going. They make me want to do more.”
He plans on doing much more in the near future.
Mazino will keep up with his videos on social media — he’s currently pumping out at least one a day — but this past week, he asked his followers if they’d be interested in virtual dance classes.
“So far, 105 people said yes,” he said. “That’s a lot of people who want to learn how to dance.”
It’s a challenge, he said, because he’s a lefty and most teachers teach people to dance from the right.
“I’m trying to learn how to teach from the right,” he said. “I’m hoping to start offering lessons soon.”
He also has plans for Hamilton’s arts community.
Mazino says he envisions bringing together Hamilton’s young artists to develop a grassroots hub of collaboration and creativity.
“There are so many teenagers in the city who have talent,” he said. “You don’t have to be a dancer. Whatever it is that you know how to do, whatever you’re good at, it matters and you need to share it.”
He says he’s open to all forms of art and collaboration and encourages anyone with even the slightest interest to reach out to him.
“I want people to be a part of this,” he said. “If there’s anyone out there who wants to be a part of what I’m doing, DM me.”
— Photo courtesy Joseph Mazino’s Instagram