Getting to Know Dancer Mica Russo

Mica is a great example of the diversity present within our group. She is a Product Design major at the University of Oregon but she has been dancing all her life. This will be Mica’s first time attending the American College Dance Festival.

1. Where are you from originally?

I was born in Chico, California, but I’m an Oregonian with exception to those first three months of my life. I grew up in Elmira, which is still pretty close to Eugene. Oregon has always been my home.

2. What is your major or focus of study and what led you to decide on it?

My major is Product Design, which combines my love for creativity and functionality. Before coming to the UO, I enjoyed making things – crafting, you could say. The Product Design program has shown me how to apply this creative drive to usable objects. The possibilities to redesign or invent better products is my way of helping improve the world. I’m most interested in social-impact or humanitarian design, which seeks to solve social issues in subjects like education and health through innovative products.

3. When did you start dancing and how did you decide to “stick with it”?

Well, it’s a bit cliche to say I’ve been dancing all my life, but I honestly can’t remember a time when I wasn’t committed to dance. When I was younger, my mother would kindly chauffeur me to town for dance class each day, and I’d do my homework in the car, and my weekends were spent tech-ing and performing. Dance has been an integral part of my life, both as movement and as community. My dedication to it will continue throughout my life, because it challenges me while giving me release, and it brings me so much joy.

4. Give a little bit of info about your dance background.

The Eugene dance community is very dear to me, and I’ve been honored to dance with many of the local companies. I danced modern and tumbled with the EDGE for 16 years: that studio on Harris Street is my second home, and Geni Morrow is my mentor, friend, and hero. Meanwhile, I have learned hip hop and jazz for 10 years from the Greats of Eugene – Lisa Gillam and Karl Mundt at Dance Factory, who taught me energy and precision – Cindy Zreliak at ZAPP who challenged me to be hard-core and expressive – and Eileen King and King’s Krew, with whom I’m still dancing: I spend hours a week in the studio with my closest friends, all dancing our very hardest. Finally, the Dance Department at the University has been an incredible key to exploring my own movement and expression, with some of the sweetest and most talented dancers I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Dance Oregon is pushing me to test the waters as an artist, and to comprehend a deeper level of modern dance.

5. What does ACDFA and Dance Oregon mean to you?

The community of dancers and people in Dance Oregon is inspirational and beautiful! What a gift to all do what we love, together, and what an opportunity for us to travel and meet more people who share our passions! ACDFA seems like an indescribable gathering of dance that will teach us many things, and expose us to many individual stories and experiences with dance as the connecting root.

You can help fund our trip to the American College Dance Festival at our Kickstarter site:
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/danceoregon/help-dance-oregon-go-to-the-american-college-dance

Getting to Know Dancer Kim Ames

We are so excited that Dance Oregon is reaching the younger of dancers at the University of Oregon. Meet sophomore dance major Kim Ames who will be attending the American College Dance Festival with us this year!

1. Where are you from originally?

I was born and raised in the Eugene/Springfield area, and still absolutely love it here.

2. What is your major or focus of study and what led you to decide on it? 

My major is dance. Dancing has always been my passion. I have always wanted to open my own dance studio, but I also wanted to explore dance more on a professional level. I am loving everything so far, and I am glad I continued my exploration further at the UO. I love to inspire and be inspired by my peers and other dancers in the community. It is great to be a part of Dance Oregon because I get to be around other people who love to dance all day. I have learned SO much already from my professors, graduate students and peers-and I am only a Sophomore!

3. When did you start dancing and how did you decide to “stick with it”? 

When I was three years old I pointed out a dance studio to my mom and said, “I want to go there.” From there she enrolled me in classes, and I was hooked. During my middle school years, many of my classmates stopped taking classes for sports and other activities, but I wanted to dance. I never decided to stick with it, it is like embedded in my DNA or something. It’s almost like dance chose me.

4. Give a little bit of info about your dance background. 

I danced locally in Eugene for a studio called ZAPP, run by a UO alumni named Cindy Zreliak. When I was little I took a lot of hip-hop, tap, swing, lyrical, and jazz. When I was 13, I was old enough to be a part of their smaller group of dancers that perform around the world and locally at the Hult Center. Between ages 13 and 18 I performed with the company in Disneyland, Disneyworld, Seattle, Hawaii, and numerous times at the Hult Center. One of my favorite productions I did every year was Dance for a Reason, because there are so many local dance groups involved that contribute to a fantastic performance. There were times we would reherse on Sundays for 7 hours for these performances. I also had dance practice at 6 a.m. on Tuesdays every week, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

5. What does ACDFA and Dance Oregon mean to you? 

The American College Dance Festival is such an exciting idea to me. I have never been before, but I am a firm believer in cross training. I am really looking forward to taking workshops from professors from other Universities. There is so much that I will be able to learn and take from it I’m sure. I am also looking forward to watching the performances, and what other Universities have been working on. The University of Oregon has provided me with a new style of dance that I haven’t done before-Modern Dance. I had heard little of it before coming to UO. It is addicting. I love how real it is, and the freedom for expression within it. Although there is structure, there is so much wiggle room. One of my favorite dance styles is hip-hop, so freedom of expression in dance is important to me. My professors are all so different, and I appreciate that because life is never the same and always exciting here.

Introducing Dance Oregon’s First Ever Kickstarter Fundraiser

Hello! We are Dance Oregon, a student group at the University of Oregon. We are pleased to announce the launch of our first ever Kickstarter Fundraiser! We are raising money to get 35 members of our student group all the way from Eugene, Oregon to Madison, Wisconsin so that we can participate in the American College Dance Festival (ACDF). Due to scheduling conflicts, we cannot attend the conference in our region so we will need to raise 300%  more than we have previously needed to attend this festival.We chose to launch a Kickstarter fundraiser in order to involve others in our journey in raising money for an art that we are incredibly passionate about. This platform is designed specifically for artists who need help in order for their project to happen. It is important to note that if we do not raise our goal of $4,000 by February 24 we will not receive any of the money.

The Kickstarter project is a key fundraiser for us because the $4,000 that we are hoping to raise will essentially cover the hotel costs for all 35 students who will be attending. We hope that you will donate to this campaign because without this money we will be forced to ask the dancers to pay much more than they can afford in order to get to the festival.

So far we have received more than $11,000 from the Associated Students of the University of Oregon. This support was a huge help in making this trip possible and we are endlessly grateful to be one step closer to our goal of raising more than $25,000. In addition to that money, we received $4,000 in fees from our dancers. We also need to raise at least $4,000 through our Kickstarter and at least $6,000 from other fundraisers including bake sales, apparel sales and other events here in Eugene.

We hope that you will follow our blog to receive updates and insight relating to Dance Oregon’s fundraising journey. The Kickstarter campaign is just a fraction of what we are doing to raise all of the money that we need to get to ACDF but it is also a crucial aspect of our fundraising efforts. We will use this blog to profile the dancers who will be attending the conference and to share our journey in Eugene as we continue to raise money in order to make it to this festival.

Please visit and donate to our Kickstarter fundraiser at this website:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/danceoregon/help-dance-oregon-go-to-the-american-college-dance

By clicking the above link you will learn all kinds of great information about the American College Dance Festival and about Dance Oregon itself. Feel free to ask us any and all questions that you may have here on our blog or e-mail danceoregon@uoregon.edu

Thank you for your support!

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