[e]Motion @ Mills

Mills College Repertory Dance Company
November 20 & 21, 2020 
Presented by Mills College Dance and Theater Studies Department

Click image to play video


At First I Hear Very Little

Performers — Tawni Pizzagoni and Caitlin (Cat) Vanderveen
Composer — Miles Lassi
Filmography — Chani Bockwinkel
Editing — Chani Bockwinkel
Filming and editing assistance and consultation — Trevor Polcyn, Cat Vanderveen
Text — Tawni Pizzagoni and Cat Vanderveen
Custom masks sewn and designed by — Barbara Vanderveen
Supplemental choreography — Gizeh Muniz
Concept and choreography — Abby Crain, in collaboration with the dancers

We would like to acknowledge that this piece was made and performed on unceded Muwekma Ohlone land. We aim to be respectful visitors on this land. Please visit https://sogoreate-landtrust.org/ for resources to support the return of indigenous land to indigenous people.

On Monday of this week we got word that this project would no longer be able to be presented as a live stream. In response to this news, the entire team of making this piece sprung into quick and inspired motion. What has come out of this week is truly amazing to me. To me a piece “succeeds” when suddenly the collective will of a group of people rallies around getting a thing done with dedication and their collective inspiration, and the piece begins to form itself through this combined effort. I didn’t think this could happen in the age of zoom, and am so grateful that it did. Thank you so much Tawni, Cat, Miles, Chani, Trevor and Gizeh for this gift.

I would also like to thank the team making this performance possible including my phenomenal and steadfast colleagues Robert Moses and Sheldon Smith, the exacting and benevolent Alexander Zendzian and the whole MPA production team, the exceptional graduate students supporting this event, and the insightful and supportive Ann Murphy. All of your work has been steady, generous, vital, and full of hope. Please accept my gratitude and we hope you enjoy the performance.

An Untitled Depression

Choreography — Robert Moses
Performers — Arielle Cole, Ye Feng, Tawni Pizzagoni, Wade Reynolds, Caitlin (Cat) Vanderveen
Music — Robert Moses
Video Editor — Cora Cliburn
Costumes — Provided by Performers

The Way you Look at me When I Speak of the Past

Choreography & Improvisational Score — Sheldon Smith and performers
Performers — Ye Feng, Wade Reynolds, Stephanie Tobon, Mikaili Thomas
Music — Sheldon Smith
Text — Sheldon Smith
Video Editor — Sheldon Smith

Many thanks to the performers for their patience and creative contributions.
*the way you look at me when I speak of the past is a poetic response to life as lived on screens during a turbulent time. The work is a series of after-images of a time we may wish to soon forget. But there is hope. There is a doorway. There is a garden.

2020 – 2021 Mills Repertory Dance Company

 Arielle Cole
Ye Feng 
Tawni Pizzagoni 
Wade Reynolds 
Stephanie Tobon 
Mikaili Thomas 
Caitlin (Cat) Vanderveen

Robert Moses, Director

Production Staff

Video Editing — Arielle Cole & Trevor Polcyn
Dance GA & RepCo Assistant — Joey Hernandez
Dance GA & Tech Assistant — Arielle Cole
Dance GA & Tech Assistant — Wade Reyonlds
Dance GA & Social Media — Stephanie Tobon
Dance GA & Publicity — Caitlin (Cat) Vanderveen
Broadcast Engineer — Sally Decker

The Mills Repertory Dance Company (MRDC) gives Mills dancers a total performance experience that includes many of the same demands and commitments as professional dancers experience. Both undergraduate and graduate students are encouraged to audition for the ensemble, and each year they contribute to the department’s performance history while leaving their mark on the dancers coming up behind them. Through RepCo, we share our diverse visions, styles, and aesthetics; give voice to our powerful sense of community; celebrate our love of dance; and embrace the body’s eloquent ability to say what otherwise might not be spoken.



Abby Crain is a dancemaker and performer with roots in both the Bay Area and the New York performance worlds. Her work houses emotional, visceral, political and theoretical material within simple and spacious structures. Current research includes creative practices to undermine the telios and implied universals of cadaver based anatomical theory on the moving body. She teaches and performs her own solo and collaborative work nationally and internationally, and has worked and performed extensively with Miguel Gutierrez and Sara Shelton Mann.

Robert Moses​​ has created numerous works of varying styles and genres for his highly praised dance company. His work explores topics ranging from oral traditions in African American culture to the nuanced complexities of parentage and identity and the simple joys of the expressive power of pure movement. In addition to his work with Robert Moses’ Kin, Moses has choreographed for Alvin Ailey American Dance, The San Francisco Opera, and Ailey 2 and other esteemed dance companies.He has choreographed for the SFFF, The Lorraine Hansberry Theater, New Conservatory Theater, Los Angeles Prime Moves Festival (L.A.C.E.), and Olympic Arts Festival. RMK has earned eight Isadora Duncan awards for work supported by funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, James Irvine Foundation, Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, San Francisco Arts Commission, California Arts Council, San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, and San Francisco Foundation, and among others and is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Bonnie Bird North American Choreography Award, the SF Weekly Black Box Award for Choreography, and the SF Bay Guardian Goldie Award. RMK performs at venues such as the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, Fall for Dance/City Center, Bates Dance Festival, Colorado Dance Festival and Black Choreographers Moving Toward the 21st Century. The company performs its two annual home seasons in San Francisco.

Sheldon Smith​​ is in his thirteenth year as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Dance and Theater Studies at Mills College. He teaches various composition, technology and theory related courses and continues to make dances professionally with his company, Smith/Wymore Disappearing Acts. He has taught at multiple institutions, some of which he also graduated from including the University of Illinois and Colorado College. He is fascinated by all forms of creativity but has dedicated most of his adult life to making music, dance, and video art. His work has toured nationally and internationally, and he has been nominated for multiple Isadora Duncan Awards for his witty blend of technology, movement, and text. He has also performed or collaborated with many significant local and international artists including Kathleen Hermesdorf, Scott Wells, Jess Curtis, Bob Eisen, Meg Stuart, and Carey Perloff.


Miles Lassi is a musician/audio engineer/composer based in Oakland, CA. He has performed in over 150 cities throughout North America, Europe and Asia with many different ensembles ranging from the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall to the national tour of Dirty Dancing. He has also worked with Grammy award winning producers Om'Mas Keith, Corte Ellis, Jack Vad and Tony award winner Peter Schneider. In the dance field, Miles has collaborated with Anna Halprin, Urban Bush Women, Axis Dance Company, Afro Urban Society, Gerald Casel Dance, PUSH Dance Company, SOCO Dance Theater, the Tamalpa Institute, Sonoma State University, University of San Francisco, Mills College and UC Berkeley. Miles is dedicated to creating new sounds and music and has done so at the New York Musical Festival, Lincoln Center, Apollo Theater, ODC Dance Commons, wcciJAM, the deYoung Museum, Big Sur's Esalen Institute, and the New York Film Festival.


Arielle Cole is a second year MFA Dance candidate at Mills and holds a BFA in Dance from the University at Buffalo. She is thrilled to be a part of RepCo this season in this digital format. In her spare time, Arielle enjoys making beaded jewelry and hiking with her dog.

Ye Feng enjoys her first year in the MFA program at Mills. She has been continuously expanding her vocabulary of dance and choreography. Ye Feng enjoys the cultural diversity in the Mills community.

Tawni Pizzagoni is thrilled to be a part of RepCo this season. She earned her BA in Dance from San Jose State University and is currently in her first year at Mills College. Outside of school, Tawni loves spending time in nature and traveling to new places.

Wade Reynolds is excited to be a part of the 2020 Repco season. Wade is a first year candidate in the MFA program at Mills College. She received her BFA in Dance and Choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2012 and is new to the Bay Area. When she isn’t dancing, Wade enjoys seeing live music and exploring Oakland.

Stephanie Tobon is from the Bay Area. Growing up, Steph trained in Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical, and Contemporary. She moved on to perform and choreograph at Diablo Valley College, where she obtained her AA in dance. She has danced with Coterie DAnce company and performed in dance festivals around the Bay Area. Stephanie received her BA in dance and psychology in May of 2020 from Mills College. She is currently a dance educator and continuing to choreograph whenever she can! Recently she has taken an interest in screen dance and hopes to continue to explore further during her time as an MFA candidate in dance at Mills College.

Mikaili Thomas is a freshman this year, living at home in San Diego while she takes classes virtually. Her favorite dance styles are Hip-Hop and Contemporary. She likes to spend time with her family and dogs as well as eat tasty food.

Caitlin (Cat) Vanderveen is honored to be a part of the 2020 RepCo season. She is in her first year in the MFA in dance program here at Mills and received her BA with Highest Honors in Theater and Dance from the University of California, Davis. 

We extend our collective thanks to President Beth Hillman and Provost Chinyere Oparah for their ongoing support of the performing arts.

Sincere thanks​​ go to the volunteers from the Dance Department and the Mills community who helped with many details, small and large, in putting the show together!

Upcoming Dance and Theater Studies Events

November 30, 2020 at 7:30pm
B.L.A.C.K. Speaker Series
Stephanie Hewitt

December 4, 2020 at 3:30-4:30pm
Dollar Dance Day
Hip Hop (Open Level)
Joey Hernandez

December 4 & 5, 2020 at 7:00pm
Theatre Studies Senior Showcase
Whistling in the Hurricane: An Evening of ZOOM Theater

December 12, 2020 at 7:00pm
Studio One Night
Live Stream Screendance Presentations

Dance and Theater Studies

Mills Dance is at the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area's large and dynamic urban dance community.

Launched in 1938 as one of the first and most visionary dance programs in the country, and
offers an undergraduate BA in Dance, as well as graduate programs offering both MA in Dance and MFA in Dance, Mills uniquely trains students to be both artist-thinkers and refined practitioners competent in multiple dance idioms. The curriculum is designed to develop each dancer's technical, performance, and choreographic abilities while urging students to seek creative inspiration in the world around them. Within the broad context of liberal arts, students study dance history and theory and are introduced to some of the fundamental philosophical ideas of dance and culture studies.

Department Faculty:
Ann Murphy — Associate Professor and Department Head, Dance and Theater Studies
Victor Talmadge — Professor of Practice, Theater
Sheldon Smith — Adjunct Professor of Dance and Department Technologist
Robert Moses — Melody and Mark Teppola Visiting Distinguished Professor

Visiting Professors and Adjuncts:
Katherine McGinity — Assistant Adjunct Professor of Dance
Abby Crain — Assistant Adjunct Professor of Dance
Abigail Keyes — Assistant Adjunct Professor of Dance
Philip Amo Agyapong — Assistant Adjunct Professor of Dance
Suhaila Salimpour — Assistant Adjunct Professor of Dance

Dance Wellness & Injury Prevention Program
Dr. Cicely Hart

For information about
Mills College Dance and Theater Studies Programs, please call:
Dance Office – 510.430.2175
Undergraduate Admissions – 510.430.2135
Graduate Admissions – 510.430.3309
Financial Aid Information – 510.430.2134