In an essay for UCI’s Dance Major Journal, San Diego native Anna Medina wrote, “Growing up both Mexican and American, I lived on both sides of the border at different times in my life, sometimes sure that I belonged, other times feeling disadvantaged.”
It was first in dance classes that she felt at home, especially in her grandmother’s dance studio in Tijuana. There, she learned tap, jazz and ballet. Medina continued dancing through her teens, performing with City Ballet of San Diego and San Diego Ballet. “The studio was like a second home where I spent nearly all my time,” she wrote. “In dance, I overcame my fears about being different – ballet was a language that I understood.”
Medina earned a bachelor’s degree in political science at Boston College and has participated in San Diego government as a city council representative and arts organization liaison. In 2019, she came to UCI to pursue a master’s degree in dance – hoping to develop as a dancer, teacher and choreographer capable of inspiring and empowering her students and audience through her work.
What is your favorite memory at UCI?
My favorite experience at UCI would definitely have to be our first in-person graduate concert performance. After a year and two performances on Zoom, being able to see my work on the Claire Trevor Theatre stage was a dream come true. From working with the undergraduate students to collaborating with the stage management and lighting team, it’s a learning experience I’ll never forget. This is also why I’ve participated in all the graduate concerts that have been available to us as choreographers.
What are your plans after graduation?
After teaching in UCI’s Summer Academies in the Arts, I will move to San Diego with my fiance and apply for higher education jobs in that area.
“Anna enjoys exchanging ideas with her peers to uncover different viewpoints through discussion. She has grown in her capacity to produce embodied knowledge that serves to expand the field of dance and, additionally, serve the community at large.”
– S. Ama Wray, professor of dance
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I would love to continue my teaching career as a professor of dance. I also plan to continue my research on local government support of accessible dance education for minorities and low-income communities. If there’s an opportunity, I’d love to combine this with choreography.
Who was your biggest influence at UCI?
It’s challenging to pick one or two professors from the dance faculty, since most of them have been a great example for me. I would have to say that Assistant Professor Charlotte Griffin and my thesis chair, Professor Molly Lynch, have been my biggest influence and support. I have had honest conversations with them about what it means to be an educator, a mentor, a choreographer, a woman in higher education, and the responsibility that comes with these titles. They have shown me that it is possible to pursue my personal goals while working on my professional career. Professor Lisa Naugle has also invited me and my peers to collaborate with international artists and seek opportunities outside our comfort zone.
What do you know now that you wish you had known before coming to UCI?
I wish I’d known that the school offers support to all its students. I was hesitant to pursue an M.F.A. due to the costs associated with living in Orange County and attending a research university. But as soon as I received my acceptance letter, I felt supported and have felt this way ever since. The school has given me creative freedom with not only my choreographic work but also my thesis research.