DonnaMation, performance artist, choreographer, and educator, is the artistic director and choreographer for Vivan Los Elementos (formerly known as Axé Dide) Afro-Cuban and Brazilian Music and Dance Co. and Bang Bang Boogie. DonnaMation specializes in club and street dances from the USA including, Hustle, House, Popping, and Hip Hop as well as sacred and secular dances of Cuba and Brazil. She has performed and taught in various places around the world. Donna has danced most of her life and began her career as a performer and educator of dance in 1999.
Donna’s love of both the deeply rooted sublime dances of the Orisha as well as the infectious groove of street dance from the U.S. has led her to a creative process combining the rich culture of hip hop with the intricate movements of Afro-Cuban dance: Afro-Cuban Hip Hop.
In Portland, she has developed a university-level course “from Mambo to House" that investigates the connection and lineage from Cuban Rumba through salsa, hip-hop and house dance. When she is not on the road teaching or performing, Donna offers classes at various studios in Portland OR and credited courses at local colleges and Universities.
As a teacher, Donna is known for her enthusiasm, passion, and respect for the origins of the many styles of dances she shares. Her classes are an education in history as well as a challenging workout for people with all levels of experience. Donna inspires and supports her students to further embody movements and understand story telling through character, not just imitate form.
As an Artist Donna is appreciated for her vibrant presence and ability to create a verity of feelings within the audience. Donna has performed in many awesome groups as a dancer, director, and percussionist including Rennie Harris Pure Movement, Omo Ire, Jujuba, The Lions of Batucada, New Lineage, and Black Angel. As the artistic of Axé Didé, Donna masterfully combines rhythms and dances mainly from Cuba and Brazil, but also from the diverse lineages of the African Diaspora.
DonnaOefingerBlueDonna studied at the Univeristy of Matanzas Cuba with Grupo Afro-Cuba and Los Muñequitos de Matansas after being introduced to Cuban Folklore by Teresita Domé Perez in 1997, who later became one of Donna’s mentors. Donna later studied extensively with Juan de Dios, director of Raices Profundas of Havana Cuba. Donna has also done intensive studies in Afro-Brazilian dance in Brazil with Rosangela Silvestre and Jorge Alabé.
Donna performed as a principal dancer with Juan de Dios, director of Raices Profundas, and Miguel Bernal, former lead percussionist of Raises Profundas, in their USA based group Omo Ire. She has also had the great opportunity to perform with Jorge Alebé several times, and worked as a performer and the choreographer in a show with the world renowned creators of Bata Ketu show in Portland OR, Michael Spiro and Mark Lampson.
As a choreographer I strive to make music come to life with movement, create story with dance, and provoke feeling in audiences. I believe the responsibility of an artist is to give our viewers the powerful opportunity to feel, feel the message we are conveying whether it be as simple as the celebration of life or as deep and complex as the pains of the human experience, to inspire openness in thought, and have our audiences walk away from a show feeling enlivened. Dance has the power to make us feel more alive and inside our bodies. When we perform, our willingness to embody feelings, transform into different archetypes, or become the music has the capacity to profoundly impact our viewers. To me this is art in action or channeling this energy some people call god.
Currently I have been creating shows that have storytellers sharing “Pataki" which can be likened to myths or parables. These ancient fables from Africa via Cuba and Brazil are packed with meaning. Accompanied with choreographies that I create using modern street dances; hip hop, popping, krump, I aim to join parts of the African diaspora together in a full circle merging the origins of these dance styles with our current modern day flavor through story. The beauty in seeing movement through lineages over time, as if the body has remembered how to move through lifetimes gives me a sense of awe. I love to make these links both through generations and cultures. We can see that our bodies hold a history that is tangible yet indescribable! Symbolism in movement can often speak for itself and it is delightful. It excites me when we as artists are successful at saying the unspeakable with our creations.
I often say art saves lives, and I believe it’s true! I have seen the strength of dance and its ability to empower people, communities and societies. During my many years as a teacher I have witnessed this in students of all ages from child to senior. Witnessing these transformations keeps me driven to continue being a dance teacher and choreographer. For this reason I am an enthusiastic advocate of bringing dance into the public, exposing new audiences, interacting with and creating community through these common interests.
As a teacher I bring all of this experience and knowledge with me. I am passionate about sharing history and culture with students as they gain a greater understanding that the dance styles they are learning are more than movements but opportunities to embody meaningful rhythms and grooves full of history and significance, not just an imitation of form.