Bostonians of the Year

The krumper: Russell Ferguson

Russell Ferguson (Joe Viles / Fox)
By Mark Shanahan
January 2, 2011

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AT AN AGE WHEN MOST people are still perfecting how to walk, Russell Ferguson was already dancing, beating his tiny hands and feet in rhythm to the music.

“It’s always been a spirituality inside of me,” he says. “When the music comes on, I’m the kid who gets up and dances.”

It’s served him well. A year ago, Ferguson, who grew up and still lives in Roxbury, wowed the judges on “So You Think You Can Dance,’’ krumping his way to a $250,000 payday and, he hopes, a career in TV, movies, and on stage. (For all you fuddy-duddies, krumping is an LA-grown street dance, characterized by exaggerated movements – arm swings, chest pops, and stomps.)

Ferguson, 21, studied at City Lights, Boston Arts Academy, and, for a year, at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. When he heard the reality show was holding auditions in Boston, he came back to give it a try, figuring that being a krumper might mean he’d have a leg up on the competition.

“It’s definitely not the usual thing, and that made me want to push even harder,” he says.

Winning – despite an ankle injury sustained during the finale – has led to new opportunities while also raising the dance form’s growing profile. Most recently, Ferguson strutted his stuff on stage at the 2010 Academy Awards. So what’s next?

“Anything,” he says. “I want to see where this takes me.”

Bostonian of the year

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