RODRIGO ESTEVA RAMIREZ and MIRAH KELLC ESTEVA (SF Bay Area/Yucatán)
Co-founding Directors > View Curriculum Vitae here
Rodrigo and Mirah Esteva are the co-founding directors of DANCE MONKS, currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area of California in the Xučyun (Huichin) Ohlone lands and in Yucatán, Mexico of the Yucatec Mayans. They founded DANCE MONKS in the year 1999 while living in the mountains of Xalapa, Mexico, and Ook'ot International Dance Festival in 2020. They have dedicated their lives to interdisciplinary, experimental work that delves into the intimate and mythic relationship between people and Nature. They view dance as a potent medium to rekindle our relationship with the wild and the stories that reside in the land. Their most recent works ask essential questions about cultural displacement and amnesia while observing the potential of the arts to restore soul memory. In times of forced or voluntary migration, what happens to the old stories and traditions that bond people with the land? How can we, as artists, create refuge or fertile ground for this wisdom to continue to grow for future generations? Rodrigo and Mirah are committed to making art as a way of life; a daily discipline in deep listening and responsive action. They often collaborate with experimental artists and change-makers whose work involves mythology, folklore, and ritual.
Rodrigo and Mirah have taught and performed internationally over the last 20+ years as a duet and extensively with world-renowned companies including as members of the physically integrated AXIS Dance Company (2007-08, Oakland), Pearson Widrig Dance Theater (1994-2001, NYC), Apostalia Papadamaki (1993-96, Greece) and Gerado Delgado (1992, Mexico City) in major festivals, universities and venues throughout the United States and Mexico as well as in Canada, Peru, and Europe, including at The Joyce Theater (NY), The Kennedy Center (DC), The Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors Festival (NY), Bates Dance Festival (ME), Middlebury College (VT), CounterPULSE (San Francisco), PS122 (NYC), Dance Theater Workshop (NYC), Central Park Summer Stage (NY), Symphony Space (NY), Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (VT), San Francisco International Arts Festival (SF), Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts (Arizona), Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography (FL), European Dance Development Center (Amsterdam), Bates Dance Festival (ME), Bard College (NY), University of Veracruz in Xalapa (Mexico), ODC (San Francisco), Iberoamericana University (Mexico City), FAEL (Festival de Artes Escenicas) of Lima, among many others. View their Complete curriculum here or download their CV's below.
DANCE MONKS' original works have received the following awards or been made possible thanks to the financial support and/or commissions of San Francisco Festival of Latin American Contemporary Choreographers (FLACC) (2020), BulbFest (2019), Berkeley Civic Arts Grant (2018-19), D.I.R.T Festival (2017), Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (2016), Kenneth Rainin Foundation (2016), Zellerbach Family Foundation (2007 & 2016), FAEL (Festival Internacional de Artes Escenicas (Peru) (2012), East Bay Foundation for the Arts (2008-09), NOH Space (2008), The Open Circle Foundation (2007, 2009, 2010, 2013), sponsors and generous individuals.
MIRAH KELLC ESTEVA was raised in the green mountains of Vermont, land of the Abénaki. Her mother is of Slavic traveler-people heritage and her father's family is originally from County Kerry, Ireland. Mirah is a traditional seer and diviner, inherited from her mother's lineage, and that way of life is essential to her creative process as an artist. Mirah holds a Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) in Dance (2014) from Hollins University in conjunction with Duke University/ American Dance Festival (ADF), William Forsythe, and HfMDK/MA Code in Frankfurt, Germany. She also studied dance formally as an undergraduate at the School for New Dance Development (SNDO/EDDC) of Amsterdam, Oberlin College (OH), and received her Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) from Goddard College (VT) with a focus in Interdisciplinary Arts in Education. She holds a National certification in Yoga and was assistant to Saraswathi Devi, Director of Yogalayam. Mirah has studied dances of the African Diaspora for thirty years with many teachers including Cuban and Haitian Folklore starting as a young girl with her madrina Dr. Yanique Hume (of Jamaica), a renowned author and scholar of the Lukumi Babalu Aye tradition. Mirah began her training as an elite-level gymnast qualifying for the National Junior Olympic team (1990). She grew up performing with the Avant-Garde multi-generational company, Cradle to Grave Arts/Working Ground, directed by Hannah Dennison. As company members, they create Site-specific performances and studied with renowned postmodernists including Simone Forti and Liz Lerman as well as Body-Mind Centering (of Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen), Experiential Anatomy (based on Irene Dowd's Taking Root to Fly).
RODRIGO ESTEVA RAMIREZ was born and raised in Mexico City, overlooking the volcanos of Popocatépetl and Iztaccihuatl of the Náhuatl peoples. Rodrigo is a mestizo of indigenous Oaxacan and European ancestry. Mr. Esteva began his training in classical Ballet with Dagmar Kortum and at the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico (National University of Mexico). He performed with the renowned late Gerardo Delgado, Founder of En Dos Partes, of Mexico City including as finalists in INBA/UAM. Rodrigo studied formally at the Trisha Brown School (NYC), The Merce Cunningham School (NYC), and Nikolais and Lois Dance Lab (NYC) with support from FONCA Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes (National Endowment for the Arts in Mexico). He is a Certified Shiatsu Therapist and graduate of the advanced studies program at the Acupressure Institute of Berkeley with twenty years of experience in this form of traditional Eastern Medicine. He studied directly with renowned author and founder of the program, Michael Gach, as well as with Kaleo Ching, Sylvia Nachlinger, and Alice Hiatt. Rodrigo is a certified Acu-Yoga teacher, a practice that incorporates Yoga and Self-Acupressure. He has been the primary Shiatsu therapist at Levi Strauss Company headquarters in San Francisco since 2014 and has offered hands-on healing at the Academy of Science, UCSF Hospital, SF Children's Hospital, among many others. Rodrigo is also an avid gardener and long-distance runner.