Personal profile


Shaunna Vella is a choreographer, dancer, educator, and activist and her work is an intersection of creative practice for survival, performance as ritual, and dynamic community building. She is the Director of the LEAP Program (Liberal Education for Arts Professionals) and a full-time adjunct professor at Saint Mary's College. Shaunna has been teaching at the college since 2004, and currently teaches Technique, Composition and Dance Studies courses in the undergraduate and the MFA dance programs on campus.

She has been creating dance in the Bay Area since 2000, and her choreography is political and interdisciplinary, combining highly-physical movement, text, improvisation scores, musical collaborations, bold aesthetics and queer-feminist theory. Her work investigates performance as community ritual with an emphasis on audience participation, building sites for introspection, to explore socio-cultural-political constructs, to immerse in the sacred, queer and divine. Her choreography and performance installations have been seen at Counterpulse, ODC Theater, Dance Mission Theater, Shawl-Anderson Dance Center, The Garage, Studio 210, Ashby Stage, The Flightdeck, Temescal Arts Center, as well as open spaces and unexpected corners.
She is the co-director of Vella & Merrell Dance, a queer dance-theater company based in Oakland, CA ( 
Shaunna continues to teach, study, collaborate and perform around the world with artists she admires greatly. She has had a celebrated performance career working as a dancer for many nationally recognized dance companies in which she had the opportunity to travel on many international tours. She has created and performed works with Rogelio Lopez and Dancers, Anne Bluethenthal and Dancers, Davalos Dance Company, Liss Fain Dance, Paufve Dance, Agora Dance Project, Josh Prince, Dance Ceres and Deborah Slater Dance Theater. In 2007, she served on the Isadora Duncan Dance Committee.
She holds a MFA in Dance: Creative Practice and BS Psychology and Dance from Saint Mary's College.

Contact Information

School of Liberal Arts » Performing Arts: Music, Dance and Theatre
School of Liberal Arts » Performing Arts: Dance
SMC Email Address: 
Contact Information: 
Dante 109
Phone: 925-631-8539

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