We Have Ourselves

Dance Event

Saturday, October 19, 2019, 8 – 10pm PDT
Marilyn McArthur Holland Theater, Lisser Hall

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We Have Ourselves

Presented by Mills Performing Arts and Mills College Dance Department

Latanya d. Tigner, Mills Performing Artist-in-Residence 2019, in collaboration with the Bay Area’s longest running African American dance company, Dimensions Dance Theater and Mills alum Erik K. Raymond Lee proudly present We Have Ourselves, an evening of communal claiming and reclaiming of safe spaces, freedom and joy.

Lee, who joined Dimensions in 2011, views dance as a branch of his Christian ministry. “My mission is always to draw others toward living their best life with love for themselves and others,” said Lee. Titled Armed With Joy, Lee’s new piece explores the idea that joy is the best bulwark against the inevitable slings and arrows life sends. “Joy allows us to see hardship as an opportunity rather than a punishment or reason for despair,” added Lee. Set to a mix of South African house and gospel music, Armed With Joy is a celebratory work for Dimensions’ full company, including Lee himself.

Tigner, who joined the Dimensions company in 1986, has had several of her original works commissioned by Dimensions over the years. Sanctuary, her newest, examines different ideas of safety, both in places of solitude and of community. “Sanctuary questions whether there’s safety in freedom, and in turn whether there’s freedom in safety,” said Tigner, who draws on historical examples from apartheid-era South Africa as well as the United States. 

In another part of the work, the company will evoke a range of steps from African American social dance. “I’ve invited three other members of the company to contribute a short phrase from their respective backgrounds -- Los Angeles line dancing, Detroit Hustle and house -- that will be adapted into the larger whole. These are steps that invoke a joyful homecoming, a family reunion, and I want to bring some of that basement house party vibe into the theater.” 

Armed With Joy

Choreography: Erik K. Raymond Lee

Let our joy and love be the driving force of which we use to live and thrive. "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance" James 1:2-3 (NIV).  Thank you to every person who promotes brilliant, unapologetic black joy!


Choreography: Latanya d. Tigner

We have the human right to physical, spiritual and emotional safety in our skin, the cultural spaces of our birthrights, and the communal spaces of our people. May we always find freedom on the 1. 

Photo by Edward Miller Photography