RODRIGO ESTEVA RAMIREZ and MIRAH KELLC ESTEVA
Co-founding Directors > View Curriculum Vitae here
Rodrigo and Mirah are the co-founding directors of DANCE MONKS (SF Bay Area/Yucatán), currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area of California in the Xučyun (Huichin) Ohlone lands and in the 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. Their interdisciplinary, experimental work delves into the intimate and mythic relationship between people and Nature. They view dance as a potent medium to rekindle our relationship with the environment and one another. Rodrigo and Mirah are committed to making art as a way of life; as 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 of the diaspora.
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 Company (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 the Complete curriculum here.
Mirah Kellc Esteva was raised in the green mountains of Vermont, land of the Abénaki. Her mother is of Slavic Romani/traveler heritage and her father is of Irish, Miq'Mak, and Nigerian ancestry. Mirah holds a Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) in Dance (2014) from Hollins University in conjunction with the William Forsythe of Germany and Duke University/ADF. Mirah 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. She holds a National certification in Yoga and was assistant to Saraswathi Devi, Director of Yogalayam, for ten years. Mirah began her training as an elite-level gymnast qualifying for the National Junior Olympics (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 studied with renowned postmodernists 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). Mirah has studied dances of the African Diaspora for thirty years including dances of the Orixás with Dr. Yanique Hume, renowned scholar of the Lukumi Babalu Aye tradition of Cuba.
Rodrigo Esteva Ramirez was born and raised in Mexico City, overlooking the volcanos of Popocatépetl and Iztaccihuatl of the Náhuatl and Totonaca peoples. Rodrigo is a Mexica 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 also a certified Acu-Yoga teacher, a practice that incorporates Yoga and Self-Acupressure. Rodrigo is currently 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. He is an avid gardener and long-distance runner.
DANCE MONKS' original works have been made possible thanks to the support of the Berkeley Civic Arts Grant (2018-19), Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (2016), Kenneth Rainin Foundation (2016), Zellerbach Family Foundation (2007 & 2016), East Bay Foundation for the Arts (2008-09), NOH Space (2008), The Open Circle Foundation (2007, 2009, 2010, 2013), sponsors and generous individuals.