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Elena Villa

"I'm focused on education," says Elena Villa, who teaches film and literature courses as an adjunct instructor at the UO, and also teaches Middle Eastern belly dance and flamenco classes in local dance studios. "My goal is to expose people to other cultures." Villa got an early start as a belly dancer in a Big Sur community that came together around music and dance. "I first performed when I was 10 years old. That introduction set me on a path," says Villa, who continued with belly dance through high school in Carmel, added flamenco dance while in college at UC Santa Cruz, and went professional as a dance teacher and performer in the mid-90s. "I developed my own style of Spanish-Arabic fusion, based on the history of cultural exchange in al-Andalus." She returned to UCSC for a master's in literature, then came to Eugene in 1998 to pursue a doctorate in comp lit. "My first year at the Oregon Country Fair was 1999," says Villa, who completed her PhD in 2006 and has served as performance coordinator (as well as a principal dancer) for the fair's Gypsy Caravan Stage since 2007. "It's a big job, but it's a labor of love. We bring in artists from all over the world." Learn about Villa's classes at elenavilladanza.net.

happening people

photograph and story by Paul Neevel

Eugene Weekly / 9 December 2010

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