Across campus every term, student performers step in front of audiences to tell their story or showcase a talent. Student groups at the University of Oregon have created a myriad of opportunities to perform various art forms. Whether you want to send your audience into fits of laughter with your stand-up routine or stun them with your spoken word poetry, there are plenty of ways to take the stage.
Duck Street Dance Club
The Duck Street Dance Club (DSDC) is primarily a hip-hop group, but its work is informed by members’ diverse backgrounds in dance styles like jazz, ballet and breakdancing. The troupe hosts free hour-long workshops open to the community throughout the school year, but dancers must audition for official membership in the fall. DSDC is driven entirely by students who choreograph and teach around three to five new dances a term. They also coordinate performances at campus events like culture nights, basketball halftime shows and DSDC’s own annual Spring Showcase.
UO Stand-Up Society
Every Wednesday night, comedians gather in the Falling Sky pizzeria in the EMU to take turns sharing their material. Sign ups for this open mic show hosted by the UO Stand-Up Society begin at 8:30 p.m., half an hour before the joke-telling commences. Afterwards, the performers 一 who include UO students and other community members; absolute newbies and seasoned comedians 一 break into discussion sections to critique each other’s work. The process serves to help comedians hone their skills as well as provide a free show.
Diverging from the stand-up strategy of carefully crafted lines and perfected performances, student group Absolute Improv puts on completely improvised live comedy shows. Their scenes are often started with a call 一 a suggestion drawn from the audience, such as an object, relationship or location 一 that inspires the actors and continues until a performer spontaneously calls out “end scene!”
The group competes in the Northwest Regional of the College Improv Tournament (CIT) each winter. Following CIT, they hold auditions for the following season. Absolute Improv also hosts open rehearsals throughout the year, giving anyone interested a chance to connect with their inner improv-er.
UO Poetry Slam
In 2013, UO English major Alexander Dang and Journalism major Hannah Golden joined forces to give writers a new platform on campus. They founded the UO Poetry Slam (UOPS), a collection of students dedicated to sharing spoken word poetry. Every term, UOPS holds open mics, workshops and competitive slams. While all are invited to share their work on open mic nights, those interested in joining the team must audition through a slam team qualifier. The Poetry Slam team travels to compete in events like the College Unions Poetry Slam.
For those who love to sing without musical accompaniment, UO has three thriving a cappella groups that audition for new members at least once a year. On the Rocks is a premiere all-male troupe that has produced six albums and been featured on NBC’s The Sing Off. Divisi, an all-female group with an emphasis on empowering women, performs in Eugene and around the country, including in the International Competition of Collegiate A Cappella. Finally, Mind the Gap is a gender-inclusive group that sings a range of music from oldies to alternative to pop.
In addition to performance opportunities created through university departments like the School of Music and Dance, students have stepped up to create communities of performers and gather audiences to witness their work. These performances give students a chance to grow their skills as well as inspiring onlookers and bringing people together.