About Stranger Lover Dreamer:
Founded in 2013, Stranger Lover Dreamer is an Oakland-based dance theater collective under the direction of Shaunna Vella, Elizebeth Randall Rains and Andrew Merrell. The group has self-produced two full evening-length performances of sold-out shows; a self-titled production (Stranger Lover Dreamer) at the Garage, and Paul C.’s Homeroom Journal through an awarded residency at Shawl-Anderson Dance Center. Stranger Lover Dreamer builds unique and radical dance events with each endeavor. The collective is committed to exploring new ways of collaborating between themselves, and inviting guest artists of many mediums to participate in process and performance.
Andrew Merrell graduated in 2008 from California State University Long Beach with a BA in Dance. Afterwards, he danced professionally with Keith Johnson and Dancers as well as Holly Johnston’s Ledges and Bones in Southern California. Since moving to Oakland in 2010, he has had the privilege to work with many Bay-Area choreographers, such as Rogelio Lopez, Catherine Galasso, Abigail Hosein, Cathy Davalos, Deborah Slater, Nina Haft, and Randee Paufve. In the summer of 2016, Andrew received his MFA in Dance: Creative Practice from Saint Mary’s College. Since then, he has taught at a plethora of Bay Area Universities including: Saint Mary’s College, San Jose State University, and Sonoma State University, teaching everything from contemporary modern dance technique to Dance Appreciation and Dance in Film. Last year, he produced his first solo evening length work, Sympathy For A Slacker, with the support of Dance Up Close East Bay. Andrew has also been commissioned to choreograph works on college and high school programs including: Santa Ana College, Cerritos College, Saint Mary’s College, Economedes High School Dance Company, and the Shawl-Anderson Youth Ensemble. He currently teaches contemporary modern dance technique at Shawl-Anderson Dance Center. Andrew is proud to be 1/3 of the dance collective Stranger Lover Dreamer along with Elizebeth Randall Rains and Shaunna Vella, from whom he receives constant inspiration.
Elizebeth Randall Rains has been learning, moving, teaching, performing, creating and collaborating in the Bay Area dance community for many years. Her approach to choreography and dance education is grounded in mindfulness, curiosity, recognizing and building human connections, and opening pathways for transformation. Elizebeth earned her BA in Dance from SFSU and her MFA in Dance Performance & Choreography from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She has performed with numerous Bay Area companies, including Paufve Dance, Davalos Dance Company, Deborah Slater Dance Theater, Liss Fain Dance, and Dance Ceres. Elizebeth currently enjoys being a mama, teaching full-time at Saint Mary’s College, and offering a weekly embodied ballet practice for adults at Shawl-Anderson Dance Center. She is deeply grateful to Shaunna, Andrew, and all of artists that come together to be Stranger Lover Dreamer.
Shaunna Vella is a choreographer, performance artist, dance student and educator, and activist, and her work is an intersection of creative practice for survival, performance as ritual, and dynamic community building. She is Director of the LEAP ( Liberal Arts for Arts Professionals) Program and a full-time professor at Saint Mary's College and has been teaching at the college since 2004. 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 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, Dance Ceres and Deborah Slater Dance Theater. She holds a MFA in Dance: Creative Practice and BA in Dance: Performing Arts and Psychology from Saint Mary's College. She is honored to be ⅓ of Stranger Lover Dreamer.