Alumnae/i Profile

Jochelle Pereña, MFA

Jochelle PereñaJochelle Pereña hails from a tiny island in the Puget Sound where she grew up watching the choreography of birds in flight and trees in windstorms. She has trained in the studios of Seattle, the farmlands of the Lost Coast, the nightclubs of West Africa, and more formally at Laban, London (Professional Diploma in Dance Studies, 2005) and at Mills College, Oakland (MFA in Choreography and Performance, 2011). While at Laban she was awarded the Mary Zemke Memorial Prize for Leadership, and at Mills she received the E. L. Wiegand Foundation Award for Outstanding Leadership and Departmental Excellence.

Jochelle is honored to have performed works by Amy Voris/sentient dogs (UK), Marie-Gabrielle Rotie (UK), Gary Lambert (UK), Stacey Hindon, KT NIehoff, Yukie Fujimoto, Bianca Brzezinski, Trisha Brown and Yvonne Rainer. She currently dances for Bay Area companies Sheena Johnson/REBEL HOME and Shinichi Iova-Koga/inkBoat. Infused with butoh and physical theatre, Jochelle's own choreography explores how masking and concealing can reveal something new and unexpected in the familiar human body. She has presented solo and ensemble work at London's Bonnie Bird Theatre and Clarence Mews, Seattle's NEXT Festival, Vashon's New Works Festival, San Francisco's Garage and Dance Mission Theater, and Oakland's Temescal Arts Center. Along with collaborator Ashley Trottier, Jochelle creates visceral and raw dance theatre with their performance collective The Thick Rich Ones. thethickrichones.org

A passionate performing arts teacher, Jochelle developed the dance and drama programs at West County Community High School in Richmond, CA and has taught with the Summer Program at Cornish College of the Arts, the Dance Department at Mills College, the DanceAbility integrated family dance program at Laban, and with Artis, London, and Vashon Allied Arts. Presently she designs standards-based age-appropriate creative dance curricula as a teaching artist with Luna Dance Institute, Berkeley.

What about your Mills experience have you continued to benefit from since graduating?

Having taken the time to really hone my choreographic voice while at Mills, to have made countless pieces, experimented, taken risks, opened myself up to receive critical feedback and have my aesthetic be challenged, I now feel more confident to call myself an artist, a choreographer. I have a clearer vision of what I want to say with my work, and how I want to say it.

Also, the relationships I developed as a student with my professors and fellow dancers continue to prove invaluable. These are the people I call when I need help writing an article or a press release, or when I'm looking for dancers or feedback or advice. They are dear friends and mentors who have all taken different paths in relationship to dance, and who continue to inspire me.

How has dance helped shape your current work or passions?

I feel very honored and fortunate to be able to work in the dance field as a Teaching Artist and Studio Manager with Luna Dance Institute. I teach creative dance in the public schools and in our studio program, and support teachers and dance artist through workshops and consultations through our Professional Learning department. When I am not working and teaching, I am in the studio experimenting, researching and rehearsing with my collaborator Ashley Trottier, developing new dance theatre pieces and discovering what it means to run a dance company. So I approach dance from many different angles—as an educator, researcher, artist, choreographer, performer, ambassador, audience member—and it is an integral part of my life.

Jochelle Pereña has been instrumental in the formation of the Mills Dance Alumni Association.

Contact the association at millsdancealum@gmail.com to be put on the mailing list.

Check out the facebook group: Mills College Dance Alumni Association

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Last Updated: 10/7/13