Dancing in Europe, local studio prepares for international opportunity

GRANTS PASS, Ore.– It’s going to be the trip of a lifetime. A Grants Pass dance studio is heading to Europe this summer as one of several American dance studios chosen to perform at a festival.

With the help of their teacher, over a dozen dancers ranging from 14 to 18 years old are now getting as much practice as they can before their big trip.

“It’s pretty wild but it’s amazing and spectacular that we even get to have this opportunity,” said Kaitlyn Cardiel, a senior from Grants Pass High School.

At All That Jazz Dance Studio, a troop of young dancers are preparing to take their skills across the pond to Austria.

“A little group of us going to Europe – I think we’re so lucky to do that,” said Molly Myers, a recent graduate from Grants Pass High.

The group led by studio owner Karen Daggett Austin are preparing for Tanzsommer – a national dance festival sponsored by the Austrian government.

“Some of the venues that we perform in, we perform in the palace theatre at the Innsbruck Palace,” said Daggett Austin. “We’re performing in an opera house. In the past we’ve performed on top of a castle.”

She says they’ve had several groups perform at the festival over the years. They were discovered after performing at a competition in Portland.

“A Tanzsommer scout was looking for dance studios to represent America in their program and they came to see a different studio but they saw us,” she said. “After the weekend I got a phone call and they invited us to audition.”

The group is set to perform a variety of contemporary dances for the two weeks they’re in Austria.

“We bring a lot of different styles so like our top piece is very American-esque,” said Cardiel. “It’s from the Great Depression era. We have hip hop. We also have a fun 90’s one that’s kind of crazy and we have high liner shorts.”

Daggett Austin says a lot of their dance numbers have even been choreographed by alumni or the dancers themselves. While they are experienced dancers, traveling outside of the country will be knew for a lot of them.

“I’m really excited to have the opportunity and they’re my big family and I wouldn’t want to go with anybody else,” said Myers. “So I’m super excited and it’s going to be great to experience the different culture.”

Daggett Austin says the cultural exchange is part of why they go on this trip. While it may be about dancing, it’s also about sharing culture through art.

“It’s such an amazing, educational and artistic and every way cultural experience for the kids that it’s like a once in a lifetime thing and I want as many to have that as they can,” she said.

For a small studio in Grants Pass, that’s an opportunity that seems to continue to grow. The studio will have a showcase of its European performance next week for the Grants Pass community.

The event is scheduled for Saturday, February 15 at the Grants Pass Performing Arts Center. Tickets are available at the door or on the studio’s website All That Jazz Dance Studio. 

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