Gloversville High School graduate lives a dream of dance
From a childhood that was a mix of small town Americana and self-doubt, Medina has managed to capitalize on both her mind for engineering and her love for dance.
Born and raised in Gloversville, Medina has powered through any obstacle in her way, in order to make her dreams a reality. As owner of her own dance company, she has created a mixed media production that is setting her, and her crew, apart from anything the Capital Region has seen.
“Dark Blue Sea,” a combination of music from three local bands, cinematography by Chromoscope Pictures and dancers from Synergia Dance Project, is the creation of Medina, a 1998 Gloversville High School graduate. She idea to bring together musicians and dancers together to create dances based on the songwriter’s interpretations of their songs came to her in the fall of last year.
“I wanted this to be a collaboration of dance, music, and film working together to tell a personal story I wanted to share. I ran the idea past a few musicians I had come to know, as well as the local film production company, Chromoscope Pictures, and enthusiasm and support for the project was high,” said Medina.
Medina is also the owner of the Troy Dance Factory from which the Synergia Dance Project was born. She first opened the studio in 2011 with about 30 dancers the first year, growing up to 270 dancers a few years ago. Once she reached these types of numbers, Medina said she knew it was time to start a dance company.
“I felt like I was ready for the challenge, and knew that I could do it however made the most sense. So I mentioned it to a friend and shortly thereafter was running a company with the assistance of a few dancers from the studio,” said Medina.
The journey for Medina to get to this place, both professionally and personally, involved a lot of gutsy decisions and self reflection. She said growing up in Gloversville in the 80s and 90s, felt “good and safe,” but opportunities felt limited and surrounded by uncertainty. She credits these obstacles with her willpower and said it taught her many lessons which have helped her find the space she is in today.
“Many of us felt we had to go elsewhere to achieve the dreams we had. As kids, we all spent a lot of time riding our bikes, enjoying the outdoors, playing hide and seek throughout the neighborhoods, hanging out at parks, going to local lakes, enjoying open mic nights at local cafes, supporting all the sports team games, and taking a lot of extracurriculars. It was, overall, a really nice place to grow up. Going back to visit brings a flood of mixed emotions because, while everything I said about growing up there during that time was true, I had a particularly challenging upbringing,” said Medina. “While voted ‘most likely to succeed’ in high school, on a personal level things were not so good. My experiences in Gloversville gave me grit, which I’ve more recently learned how to harness and be thankful for.”
It was through Carol’s Cameos in Gloversville that Medina got her first formal introduction in dance. She said she became an assistant to the owner to help pay for her instruction and also found a sense of security helping Carol.
“I was hungry for the responsibility, loved dance, and really needed a safe haven. Carol fed all of those needs, and became my second mother in the process,” said Medina.
During this time Medina became involved in Big Brothers/Big Sisters, as a little sister. She said her big sister loved volunteering, and had a resilient, strong personality,
“I was learning a lot from these women, and beginning to feel a debt of gratitude that I have spent years trying to find ways to pay forward. I am doing so even still, although now it has just become part of my story, a permanent mark in the context of whatever journey I am on,” explains Medina.
After graduating from Gloversville High School, she attended Clarkson University for Civil Engineering. She then moved to Grand Rapids, Mich., finding work as a sales person and server. While there, she discovered a local dance studio where she enrolled in classes and said she was met with overwhelming generosity.
“The owners of the studio I was attending in Grand Rapids said ‘You’re going to do great things in dance,’ and they cut my tuition in half so I could keep studying. This, again, fueled me to prove myself and left me with a greater debt of gratitude that I simply knew I had to repay, somehow. I couldn’t let their generosity be in vain,” said Medina.
After a few years of professional transition, Medina made her way to teaching dance in the Troy area at Emma Willard School, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, The Arts Center of the Capital Region, Troy Housing Authority and Albany Prep. She felt at home in the area and decided to try to grow her dance life in her new home of Troy.
Looking ahead, Medina said she is currently planning Season 2 of S the Synergia Dance Project. She plans to expand performances to neighboring states, more regions of New York, and perhaps talk with Chromoscope Pictures about documenting the process. She also plans to grow the studio with he dedicated dancers, improving on choreography. Medina also created choreography for a music video for the band Zan & The Winter Folk, soon to be released and is a writer for The Collaborative Magazine. In addition to all her roles, she also wants to continue dancing herself.
“I also want to continue to train in dance, which has been suffering lately due to the intense responsibilities required administratively in my roles as studio owner, teacher, choreographer, artistic director, producer, one-woman marketing department, etc. It’s a lot of hats to wear, and in all of it, I sometimes let my personal growth in the art of dance slide a bit,” said Medina. “So I look forward to strike a better balance in that regard and becoming a stronger dancer, not that I’m not currently happy with my abilities but I’m definitely not content with where I’m at I hardly ever am and growth is exciting. There’s a lot of room for it, and my unconventional path to where I’m at always leaves me feeling like I have to work harder.”