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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Cross-dressing ball raises money for students to study abroad in Russia

Jordin O’Connor
Jordin O’Connor / Arizona Daily Wildcat A cross dressing ball was held at Fluxx Studio on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012.

The Department of Russian and Slavic Studies held a cross-dressing ball in an effort to raise money for a fund that allows students to study abroad in Russia.

The event, which was ultimately a financial loss, was held at Fluxx Studio and Gallery in downtown Tucson. The ball aimed to raise proceeds for the department’s B.G. Thompson Fund, which was established last year. Teresa Polowy, the department head of Russian and Slavic studies, said the fund offers competitive awards to one graduate and undergraduate student each year so they can study abroad in Russia.

The fund was created by Suzanne Thompson Eanes, a lecturer within in the department, and was named after her father.

“I wanted to honor him in some way,” Eanes said. “He, during his life, was a friend to Russians in Tucson.”

The theme for the event came from a particular event in Russian history, where Nadezhda Durova, a woman, dressed as a man to fight in the Napoleonic Wars as a cavalry officer. Durova later wrote an autobiography documenting the experience. Eanes said she thought the event would be attractive to students and would be an interesting way to raise money.

“The idea was to host an unusual event, a fun event, but with a serious background,” Eanes said. “We thought because Durova served dressed as a man, we would try this.”

The event also featured prizes for best man dressed as a woman, best woman dressed as a man, and best horse, alluding to Durova’s time in the cavalry.

Organizers said they had hoped that about 200 people would attend the event, with tickets costing $15 presale and $20 at the door. Only about 50 tickets were sold.

For those who did attend, many were interested in supporting the fund, having been to Russia themselves to study abroad. After hearing about the event through email invitations and classes, Ian Snapp, a senior studying Russian, showed up dressed as an “improper woman.” Snapp said he hadn’t attended many of the department’s past functions. He said he has studied abroad twice in Russia, spending terms in St. Petersburg and Moscow.

“I haven’t attended as many events as I think I should have with the Russian department,” Snapp said. “This event in particular felt like a great way to support the department that has given me such an amazing education and amazing experiences in Russia.”

Accompanying Snapp was Michael Storer, also a senior studying Russian, who dressed as a horse.

“Well, I couldn’t find a dress in my size,” he said, “So the next thing to do was dress up as a horse.”
Storer said he spent the 2011 fall semester studying in Moscow.

Polowy said the event was another way to further department’s involvement with the Tucson community, which has long since been an important part of the learning experience.

“Part of the reason we took it off campus … is to try to show that we are part of the Tucson community in a bigger way, and we can collaborate,” she said. “We just wanted to sort of do a fun thing, and we thought that this definitely was.”

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