You are here : : Season Archives > 2013 - 2014 > dance theatre GradWorks

dance theatre GradWorks

Choreographed by Lisa Frank and Sam Mitchell

Reserve Tickets

Buy Tickets Online!  

(To Buy tickets by phone or by mail, click HERE.)

@ Wagner Dance Studio 3

March 12 - 15


The Performances

...cannot be done alone (Lisa Frank): How can we form meaningful relationships within the process of creating that extend outside of the process? This work explores vulnerability, community, beginner’s mind and connection. How can we create something together and let that process inform the way we live, the way we play and the way we communicate in the world? How can we form meaningful relationships within the process of creating that extend outside of the process?


Dee(a)r Spine (Sam Mitchell) explores the connection between heritage, genetics, ancestry, and culture. As a Native American, from the Yaqui People, I have an insatiable curiosity to learn more about my culture and the traditions of the Yaqui. The work for this piece began during the summer, while I attended a residency for Indigenous Dancers at The Banff Centre for The Arts. The ancient medicine wheel became an access point, a point of departure, a doorway into a threshold and a foundation for my choreographic score. Through this, I began to feel and understand the connection of this body to the past, to the voices of my ancestors and to the voices of the ancestors who lived in this area we now know as La Jolla.

The Choreographers

Lisa Frank is currently a second-year MFA candidate in the Dance & Theatre Department of UC San Diego. Her UC San Diego credits include: Arts in Action: Connected (Choreographer), Crossing Boundaries 2012 (Choreographer/Performer) & WinterWorks (Performer). She completed her BA in Dance with a focus in Choreography, Performing and Teaching at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, IL. She has worked with and studied with such dance companies as Concert Dance Incorporated, Chicago Dance Crash, Blushing Poppy Productions, Reveries in Motion, Dance Union and with Lux Boreal in Tijuana, Mexico as part of the Cal-Laboratory Kitchen. Lisa has choreographed for St. Mary's College of Notre Dame, Southwestern Michigan College and Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. In 2009 she co-founded an interdisciplinary improvisation performance group whose primary investigations included improvisation, movement, theatre, music and writing. She has toured, shown solo and collaborative work and has taught workshops in various venues throughout the country. Her primary dance and performative studies have included: Improvisation, Contact Improvisation, Contemporary Dance and Butoh. She is also a photographer and videographer. Her current research is the development of a mindful movement program, combining dance, mindfulness, meditation, energy work and and bodywork. Some of her most influential teachers have been: Vitali Kononov, Kirstie Simson, Nancy Stark Smith, Eiko & Koma, Yukio Waguri, Katsura Kan, Stu Phillips & Frey Foust.

Sam Mitchell began his training over twenty years ago at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Sam explored improvisation, performance art and theater, while pursuing formal dance training in ballet and modern technique. Sam continued his training in the Bay Area with Joe Goode, Kim Epifano, Kathleen Hermasdorf and Augusta Moore. He also performed with Sommer Ulrickson and her company Torque. From 2000-2006, Sam was a core member of Santa Barbara Dance Theatre, where he worked under the direction of Jerry Pearson. Sam toured nationally with the company and internationally to Beijing, Chengdu and Chongqing, China. In 2007, Sam choreographed Chuck Mee’s Big Love in collaboration with Cal State San Marcos Theatre program. In 2008, Sam began working with director/artist and Fulbright scholar, Andrea Polli, in collaboration for her film The Wave.

In 2010, Sam began working with The Patricia Rincon Dance Collective. He performed in her annual dance concert along with international artists in Blurred Borders as well as toured with the company to Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2012, and in 2013 in Switzerland to perform in the TANZINOLTEN International Dance Festival, with additional performances at the Aula Rämibühl Theatre in Zurich. Sam began the MFA program for Dance Theatre in 2012 and since has created several pieces, including the site specific dance theatre piece Erhaben for Arts in Action: Connected performance in 2012, Ex Machina in collaboration with playwright David Jacobi for The Wagner Play Festival in 2013, Huerta 13 for The New Directions Concert in 2013, Hedda’ing in collaboration with the Oslo, Norway based choreographers/dancers Siri Jøntvedt and Snelle Hall for the 2013 Inaugural Without Walls Festival. Sam recently has shown his work at The San Diego Performing Arts League Star Awards at the Lyceum Theater in downtown San Diego. In June of this year, Sam will be choreographing and performing in playwright Will Given’s multi disciplinary piece Illusionary Spaces directed by Jim Carmody.

Artists' Statements

Lisa Frank - What motivates me is movement of all kinds; humans being; honest experiences; mindfulness; awareness; slowing down; uncovering the real; movement for the sake of healing and understanding; the mindbody; observing; witnessing oneself for the sake of self knowledge; witnessing other for the sake of community, change, growth, and compassion.

I appreciate the wisdom of the body and am grateful for all opportunities to dive deeper into the messages it holds. In my work, I am motivated by helping others tune into this wealth of knowledge, and am interested in how humans connect and find relationship with one another. I’m inspired by people discovering a finer tuned understanding of their physical experience and a deeper sense of being. My choreographic work is themed upon a real openness, vulnerability and physical experience that bring people together. In my work I aim to assist people discover something new about their bodies as well as their relationship to momentum and gravity. My aspiration is to continue to use movement as a form of education and motivation, as a way to re-educate people about what is possible within their physical experience. For me, watching a body become aware of itself, grow and change is one of the most beautiful things that exists and I love watching this learning unfold. I’ve taught beginning level dancers for most of my teaching career, and by far I’ve found it the most rewarding and fascinating. In my current work I’m exploring the possibility of movement as a vehicle for community and connection. My attempt is to create an experience for the movers, to create something they can participate in just as they are and be moved by the invitation and permission to both be with themselves and with others in new ways.

Sam Mitchell’s inspiration lies between the intersection of dance, theatre, film and design and of course, music. His work often pushes the limits of physicality into exhaustion and positions itself starkly against stillness and silence. As an Indigenous artist, from the Yaqui people, he has a relationship with his culture, one that is at times on the peripheral as “Scholarship through the body” and other times directly in relation to deepening that relationship through dialogue with tribal members and community. There is the passionate desire to create and sustain a training practice that activates the performer on stage and allows them to cross the threshold into the worlds of the past, present and future, simultaneously.

Special thanks to Ancient California Culture Consultant", Abel Silvas. Thank you for your consultation, knowledge and passion for honoring our ancestors.


The Movers

The Creative Team

Michael Robinson
Kristen (Chet Oon)
Mariele Mondala
Aimee Ermel
Minjee Hahm
Cecilia Chow
Vanessa Lopez
Nicole Rodriquez
Ya Gao
Jiayun Shao
Marianne Encarnacion
  Rosalie Ellis
Nga Lam Chan
Lai Him Chong
Silke Buse
Miguel Parada
Tommy Stowe
Harry Bui
Isabella Neustadt
Yue Cao
Chi Wang
Fuliujiao Wei
Choreography-Lisa Frank
Sam Mitchell
Scenic Designer-Mingshuo Zhao
Costume Designers-Janet O’Neill
Lighting Design/Digital Media-Bo Tindell
Chris Lundahl
Anthony Jannuzzi
Trickster choreography-Charlie Oates
Sound Designer-Ryan Welsh
Dramaturgy-Julie Burelle
Production Stage Manager-Kate Guthrie
Asst. Production Stage Mgr.-Sarah Dion
Live Music-Tommy Babin



Wed, March 12, 7:30 pm OPENING
Thu, March 13, 7:30 pm  
Fri, March 14, 7:30 pm  
Sat, March 15, 7:30 pm CLOSING

Located at: Wagner Dance Studio 3

Parking Passes Required: Monday through Friday. Weeknight passes are $2 per vehicle from the vending machines located in the UC San Diego Theatre District/La Jolla Playhouse parking lots and entry display case. Please remember your parking space number. You will need it to purchase your parking pass.

Note: Machines take all major credit cards except Discover and when paying with cash you must use exact change, NO CHANGE GIVEN.

Parking Passes Not Required: Saturdays and Sundays

Cars without permits are subject to ticketing by UCSD Campus Police. The Theatre & Dance Department does not have the authority to waive and cannot pay parking tickets.



Advance tickets for this production are available Monday-Friday, noon to 6 pm by calling the Box Office at 858.534.4574 or in person at the Theatre District’s Central Box Office at the Sheila & Hughes Potiker Theatre. 

At-the-Door tickets, if available, can be purchased one hour before show time at the performing theatre’s box office at Wagner Dance Studio 3.

General Admission: $20
UCSD Faculty/Staff/Alumni Association,
and Seniors (over 62): $15
UCSD Students/UCSD Alumni Association (with ID): $10

Reserve Tickets

Buy Tickets Online!  

(To Buy tickets by phone or by mail, click HERE.)

Of Interest:

TheatreForum - An international theatre journal since 1992
La Jolla Playhouse - UCSD is home to this Tony Award winning theatre
UC San Diego Home Page - UC San Diego's Main Web Site
9500 Gilman Drive MC0344
La Jolla, CA 92093
Tel: (858) 534-3791