By Brianah Bussey
Frida Molina grew up participating in informal dance competitions against kids at parties for a dollar prize. Now, the 20-year-old Adelphi University dance major can be seen dancing in music videos and on stage at big events like New York Fashion Week.
But in between, there was a lot of hard work. When Molina began formally studying dance as an 11-year-old in middle school at Bronx Dance Academy, she had a lot of catching up to do since most of her classmates had already been learning to dance for years.
After Molina attended Bronx Dance Academy for middle school, she went on to high school at Urban Assembly School of the Performing Arts. She soon realized that the school did not give her the push she needed and transferred to Talent Unlimited High School for her sophomore year.
Although she was a quick study, Molina said her late start and shyness initially held her back.
“I have found I was never really an underdog; I just didn’t have the confidence boost I needed,” said the junior from Bronx, New York. “Dancing at 11 felt like a challenge at the time and still does. I've always had to train harder and practice/stretch at home more often than not so I can reach the point where other dancers who have started since they were three.”
Molina is now at a level where she can believe in her abilities more. It also amazes her to dance with people she can look up to and who challenge her technique in a different light. She said being a dance major can feel restricting considering the program only consists of ballet and modern style dance. However, she credits the department for not only opening her eyes to what a professional level of dance is, but also understanding the type of dancer she wants to be.
“I know now that I am a diverse dancer who wants to do it all and that there isn’t just one box I should put myself in. All of the styles I dance allow me to use them hand in hand,” she said, adding that department’s ballet and modern dance techniques have strengthened her. “Training at Adelphi has made me a more confident person because it has made me realize that the work I put in every single day shows through my progress.”
She still tries to add more diversity within her artistry so she can have a range of movement in different styles. For example, she is a member of Adelphi’s hip hop club Evolution and also dedicates some weekends going to the city and participating in open level classes.
Molina’s work ethic and skillset are paying off as she’s landed several professional gigs. In July 2021, she was featured in multiple music videos as a back-up dancer for upcoming artists such as a featured dancer for Dominican singer Lo Moyeto’s new single “Baila,” in addition to performing in the 2021 New York Fashion Week with female artist Moe Money.
When in front of the camera she’s learned how to not only be visible but to also capture attention. She steps into her own alter ego while being more confident and connecting with the artist. In most cases it is also her first time meeting them. Although she used to be shy in front of the camera, she realizes her aura and energy are what got her the gig in the first place. Now, she believes she has what it takes to pursue a full-time career as a dancer after she graduates in May 2023. She plans to continue to have her voice heard with the big goals she has for her future. After graduation, she wants to be signed to a talent agency in New York City and Los Angeles. She also wants to be in a modern dance company and travel while taking gigs, tour, music videos, commercials and live performances around the world.
Molina’s dance instructor at Adelphi, Jennifer Kreichman, has also seen a difference in the dancer since arriving at the University’s program. “I think she’s so much more sophisticated in every possible way,” Kreichman said. “During her time here she’s opened herself up to the idea that there was still so much more to layer on to what she already knew and so much more to then give forth through her performance quality whether in class or on stage.”
“It’s easy to dance at any age when you have the passion. Once you have that drive you can conquer anything at any age because of your mindset,” Molina said.
Molina, who is now back to her black hair, is working alongside Kreichman on a collaboration piece called Code Switch coming to the department’s semester showcase of Dance Adelphi in April. “It’s a piece regarding both ballet and hip-hop and the fusion in between,” said Molina.
Among Adelphi’s 65 dance majors, Molina stands out because of her “aura” and “energy,” Kreichman said. “She has a genuine presence, and I think that’s palpable and when she applies that to her movement it’s even more.”
Molina’s teammate on Evolution, Taylor Erickson, a nursing major, agreed. “I know that when I look over at Frida during a performance her energy will radiate and motivate everyone else to push through a routine.”