Mills College Celebrates its 80th Anniversary of Dance and Theater Studies

Oakland, CA—October 31, 2019

Second Line DancingMills College’s Dance and Theater Studies Department is pleased to announce a Second Line Parade on Friday, November 1 at 6:30 pm to celebrate 80 years of Performing Arts at Mills. The event, titled Footwork! emulates a New Orleans Second Line Parade tradition. The event will honor the achievements of the department’s many influential black alumnae. Admission is free, and the public is warmly invited to join students and faculty in the procession. No previous dance experience is required to participate. To register, visit

Second line is an improvisational dance form rooted in New Orleans' African American communities. Mills College’s current and first-ever Artist-in-Residence, Latanya D. Tigner, who descends from a family of second liners in New Orleans, will lead the parade alongside members of Dimensions Dance Theater, the oldest continuously operating African American dance company on the West Coast, and MJ’s Brass Boppers brass band. The parade will begin at the College’s entrance gates, and proceed to Lisser Hall. A demonstration in basic second line footwork will follow inside Lisser Hall’s Holland Theater.

Following the parade, at 7:00 pm, Mills’ Dance and Theater Studies Department will sponsor a public lecture in Lisser Hall. Rachel Carrico, visiting from the University of Florida, will trace connections between Oakland and New Orleans as she explores the rich history of second line dance.

In Memory Of:
Footwork! is presented in memory of dancer and Mills College alumna Thea Faust Anderson, 1992–2016, and sponsored by Thea Project funders and an anonymous donor. The Thea Project brings together many aspects of Anderson’s life: dance, service, and an abiding love for all kinds of people. Anderson followed her sister, Madeleine, to Mills College, where she explored creative writing, ceramics, bookbinding, literature, and feminist studies. She graduated with a BA in Dance in 2014.

About Rachel Carrico:

Carrico is an Assistant Professor of Dance Studies in the School of Theatre + Dance at the University of Florida (UF). Her research explores the aesthetic, political, and social histories of second lining, an improvisational dance form rooted in New Orleans's African diaspora parading traditions. Before joining the faculty at UF, Dr. Carrico held faculty appointments at Reed College, Colorado College, University of Oregon, and Wilson College. In 2015–16, she was the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Dance Studies at Stanford University. She holds a PhD in Critical Dance Studies from the University of California–Riverside, an MA in Performance Studies from NYU, and a teaching certificate from the Limón Institute. She parades annually in New Orleans with the Ice Divas Social and Pleasure Club.

About Dimensions Dance Theater:

For four and a half decades under the leadership of Co-Founder and Artistic Director, Deborah Vaughan, Dimensions Dance Theater has dedicated itself to creating, performing, and teaching dance that reflects the lives and historical experience of African Americans. Under Vaughan’s leadership, Dimensions presents traditional African dances, as well as original contemporary choreography drawn from African, Jazz, and Modern dance idioms. Its repertoire includes original works by its award-winning artistic director along with commissioned works by some of the most acclaimed choreographers in Africa and the African diaspora.

About MJ’s Brass Boppers:

Founded in San Francisco in 2008, MJ’s Brass Boppers is a New Orleans-style brass band whose founding members were born and raised in New Orleans. The group’s sound has been meticulously formed over years of practicing and experimenting together from concert halls to street corners, fusing classic New Orleans performance styles with funk, jazz, modern pop, and a second line twist. The group has opened for George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, The O’Jays, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Ave., Funky Meters, George Porter Jr., Zigaboo Modeliste, Kermit Ruffins, Katdelic, and many more.

About Latanya D. Tigner:

Latanya D. Tigner has performed professionally with Dimensions Dance Theater under the leadership of Deborah Vaughan since 1986, and has studied and toured nationally and internationally, performing multidisciplinary works rooted in African diasporic dance forms. Tigner holds a BA in Physical Education/Dance and a Master’s Degree in Arts Administration. She directs Dimensions’ youth company, and she teaches dance at UC Berkeley and Mills College. Tigner has created commissioned works for Dimensions Dance Theater, the Black Choreographers Festival, Robert Moses’ Kin and Mills College, and she has presented her work at the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, Cuba Caribe, and Congo’s Mabina Dance Festival in Brazzaville. She has also set choreography for Cal Shakes' SF Shakespeare, Ubuntu Theater, Delina Brooks, Contra Costa College, and Li Smith's production of Purlie Victorious. Tigner also holds the position of Co-Artistic Director of World Arts West’s esteemed San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival for the 2018–20 seasons. Recently, Tigner was named Resident Artist at Mills College’s Lisser Hall. Tigner’s 30-year observation, research, and study of African dance retention in African American social dance led to the launch of Dancing Cy(i)phers, an annual symposium connecting the coded languages of African rooted dance.

About Performing Arts at Mills College:
The Mills College Dance and Theater Studies Department is one of the oldest continuously operating dance departments in the United States. Offering BA, MA, and MFA degrees in dance, the program is designed to help dance artists hone their skills in performance and choreography. It provides a strong theoretical and historical base to enable its graduates to enter the world as capable and knowledgeable artists. Our alumnae and alumni are teaching in colleges and universities in virtually every part of the United States and include successful choreographers Trisha Brown, Molissa Fenley, and Nora Chipaumire. Our goal is to help students actualize their potential by broadening their knowledge of dance and nurturing their development as artists. We train dancers, choreographers, and dance scholars who will contribute to and affect the future of dance by creatively stretching dance boundaries.

Discover more about Mills Performing Arts.