Meet: Atlanta Creator Julio Medina
Written by Mercy Matthews
A Chicago Native and choreographer devoted to blending many styles together, Julio Medina, is a multifaceted individual. Continually striving to better himself, he is a Professor of Dance at Emory University along with dancing in the Atlanta area and creating his own works, including his newest Concert, Meta/Physical.
Never having worked with a large group, Meta/Physical was the first group piece of so many talented individuals all in the same room. Having been in quite a few of his dancers' own works, this was the first time being able to create on them. Medina, being used to choreographing solos on himself, realized quickly the leader position creating on a group of this capacity put him in. You can’t be wasting time, when the whole group is looking to you to encourage, push, and continually make each rehearsal better than the one before. Although he was presented with a multitude of ideas, and what felt like too many to incorporate, he knew had to be prepared each time he stepped into that studio, holding himself accountable for each person’s time and energy. It’s not a matter of deciding if you want to be a leader; it makes you a leader.
The name of Medina’s Concert, Meta/Physical, came from wanting to blend both boxing and martial arts with dance. He wanted to use these three vastly different styles to combat, heal, and reflect on meta physical attacks on the human body and spirit. Asking the hard questions for himself, such as, what are the things that inflict harm or violence on a daily basis on humans. Not just physically, but psychologically and spiritually as well. The word for him that encapsulated all of that was Meta/Physical, who we are to the core, and as social people; personalities. Interested in the abstract essence of dance, Medina felt that the word was the root for all his works and creations.
Boxing for five years, Medina has grown to love the culture and livelihood that it curates. Molding boxing and dance together created a new challenge for him that he had never dealt with before, starting the process in 2019. Continuing to research and train through the pandemic, Spring of 2022 was the first time he stepped into the studio with dancers to truly begin to see it come to life. Feeling confident in his boxing skills was the pinnacle for this concert, and knowing how it relates rhythmically to things like hip hop, improvisation, jazz, engaging with a partner, ideas of weight shifting, and combinations. A challenge that required time to develop vocabulary along with the skills needed to achieve his full idea.
Some of the dancers he worked with, had experienced or trained in some capacity of martial arts or similar training, while others stepped into it for the very first time. This brought a whole new side to choreographing for Medina, requiring him to give the artists many training sessions purely devoted to just learning the ins and outs of techniques behind boxing. Bringing in diverse trainers to teach specific styles, Medina felt it was important that the dancers clearly understood it in their bodies before mixing it with their dance backgrounds.
Continuing to fuel his curiosity and keep him going has been a couple of things that might not be the ordinary individual’s reasons.
Medina believes in the power of movement, in the power of dance, and seeing others move with their own beings. Knowing that dance has the power to heal, can create empathy, empower, be a catalyst for a change, and undoubtedly inspire. When you see something that is good and rich, and well thought-out, it expresses something so much deeper than words. Medina wants to make work that makes people have a visceral reaction, work that is so physical but unexpectedly beautiful. Along with that, a high point for Medina over the years has been the small moments when peers, mentors, or strangers alike have encouraged him to keep making art. To keep pushing himself, and know that he has a gift of creating. Validating the journey and hardships it has taken him to get to where he is today.
Remembering his very first paid gig, Medina had that moment where he was told, you’re officially a professional dancer, but yet knows now looking back on it that he has come so much farther than where he was on that day. Dancing in David Rousseve’s company, REALITY, for nearly 4 years, is where Medina feels like something shifted for him from a pre-professional dancer to a fully rounded professional. Moving in a way that his younger self dreamed of in early years.
Always knowing that it is a journey that never ends, he is always reaching for something higher; having the mentality of never letting yourself drop below your own expectations and knowing you’re capable of even more than the day before.