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Michele Ainza

Headshot of Michele Ainza

Contact Information

Salem Campus

PLH 138
900 State Street
Salem  Oregon  97301
503-370-6223 (Fax)


Michele Ainza is a Portland-based dance and somatic educator, director, and artist on faculty as an Adjunct Professor of Dance, Guest Artist, and former Visiting Artistic Director of Dance at Willamette University. Her instructional course load has included Contemporary Dance Technique I and II, Choreography, Introduction to Dance Technique, and Dance Appreciation. Michele has contributed to a variety of programs, including choreographic work for Carmina Burana funded by the Willamette Master Chorus and performed at Smith Auditorium, as well as collaborating on a cross-disciplinary project between the Art History and Theatre Departments performed at The Hallie Ford Museum of Art, funded by the Mellon Foundation and Oregon Arts Commission via a Learning through Creating Grant. Currently, she is collaborating on a new project with the Art Department with an installation performance set for April 2020 at Hallie Ford Museum of Art.

Michele has been on faculty throughout the United States and Mexico, most notably as a Tenure-Track Professor and Artistic Director of Dance at Fresno City College, Visiting Guest Artist and Professor of Dance and Somatics at the University of Veracruz, Mexico, Director of Dance at Linfield College, and Visiting Guest Artist and Adjunct Professor of Dance at Lewis and Clark College. She earned her Master of Fine Arts in Dance and Choreography from California Institute of the Arts, Los Angeles, where she was on scholarship as a Graduate Teaching Fellow and concentrated on feminist studies and dance for video. During her time in California, her work was selected to debut at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Malibu Arts and Video Festival, and Rogue Festival. She concluded a graduate degree and certification in Laban Movement Analysis and Bartenieff Fundamentals from the Integrated Movement Studies based out of the University of Utah, where she was on scholarship and studied under Peggy Hackney, Janice Meaden, and Ann Hutchinson Guest. Furthermore, she is a Certified 500 HR RYT via Yoga Alliance.

Outside of the higher education arena, Michele continues to contribute as an artist and educator, most recently as an instructor of Somatic Dance at FLOCK and collaborative performer for SALT at Shaking The Tree Theater in Portland, OR. Furthermore, her artistic and scholarly work during her time in Mexico was published in Front. She is the Artistic Director of Michele Ainza Dance Experiment (MADE), which is an ongoing independent project that focuses on the deconstruction and abstraction of social and political issues through the development of highly physical and idiosyncratic movement material. MADE productions have been shown throughout the United States, Mexico, and Eastern Europe. While forming MADE, Michele was a company member of Oslund+Company, directed by Mary Oslund, where she performed at Lincoln Hall, PSU, Imago Theater, and Oregon College of Arts and Crafts. She was a consistent presence at Performance Works Northwest, directed by Linda Austin, performing and collaborating for Holy Goats and MADE.

Michele has contributed to many dance organizations, most notably as an Assistant Director, Instructor, and Board Member of Conduit Dance, as well as many others including Front Publishing, Friends of the Arts, National Dance Education Organization, and Dance Camera West. Her extensive performance career has spanned the United States as a company member of Turner Dance Industries, New York, NY., and has included working with notable dance artists such as Gladys Bailin, Bebe Miller, Tiffany Mills, Susan Van Pelt, and Holly Johnston. Lastly, her expertise and skill set range include Contemporary Dance Technique, Ballet Technique, Jazz Dance Technique, Urban Dance Forms, Latin/Chicano Dance Forms, Tap Dance, Ballroom Dance, Choreography, Improvisation, Dance for Video, Site-Specific Dance, Dance Theater, Laban Movement Analysis, Bartenieff Fundamentals, and Yoga.


  • Master of Fine Arts in Dance and Choreography, California Institute of the Arts
  • BFA in Dance, Ohio University
  • CLMA, University of Utah
Willamette University


M. Lee Pelton Theatre
Willamette University
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.