RODRIGO ESTEVA RAMIREZ and MIRAH KELLC ESTEVA (SF Bay Area/Yucatán)
Rodrigo and Mirah Esteva are the co-founding directors of DANCE MONKS est. 1999, currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area of California in the Xučyun (Huchiun) Lisjan Ohlone lands and in Yucatán, Mexico of the Yucatec Mayans. They founded DANCE MONKS in 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 ancient relationship between body and place. They view dance as a potent medium to rekindle our relationship with the mythic and mend the stories that are held in our bodies and the land. 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 artists and change-makers whose works hover on the threshold of the imaginal world, moving through the seen and unseen. Their works ask essential questions about cultural displacement and amnesia while embracing the arts' ability 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 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. They have also taught children (K-12) extensively in public and private schools and programs in both Mexico and the United States, including establishing Nature and Arts, an award-winning environmental education through the arts program, for elementary-aged students. 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 Berkeley Civic Arts Grant (2021 & 2018-19), San Francisco Festival of Latin American Contemporary Choreographers (FLACC) (2020), BulbFest (2019), 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.
RODRIGO ESTEVA RAMIREZ was born and raised in Mexico City, overlooking the volcanos of Popocatépetl and Iztaccihuatl of the Náhuatl peoples. Rodrigo is mestizo of indigenous Oaxacan and European ancestry. As an artist, he is dedicated to unblocking energy pathways through movement towards transformational and heightened states of being. 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 at Palacio de Bellas Artes. 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, Meditation, 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, practices grounded in the sacred knowledge of his indigenous ancestors.
MIRAH KELLC MORIARTY was raised in the green mountains of Vermont, lands of the Abénaki. Her mother is a fabric artist from a family of traditional weavers of Slavic traveler heritage and her father is a photographer whose family were stonemasons from Ireland. As an artist, she is devoted to listening to that which wishes to be spoken, the stories and wisdom that are held deep in our bodies and in the land, or what the Irish call Tuiscint na Talún. 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, visual art/ installation, and costume formally as an undergraduate at the School for New Dance Development (SNDO/EDDC) Hogeschool voor de Kunsten of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Oberlin College (OH), and received her Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) from Goddard College (VT) with a focus in Interdisciplinary Arts in Education. Mirah holds a National certification in Yoga and was assistant to Saraswathi Devi, Director of Yogalayam for twelve years. She also studied the sacred dances of Cuban and Haitian Folklore starting as a young girl including with her lifelong mentor, Dr. Yanique Hume, a scholar of the Lukumi Babalu Aye tradition. Mirah trained as an elite-level gymnast qualifying for the National Junior Olympic team (1990). At age 14, she was the youngest member of the avant-garde multi-generational company of women, Cradle to Grave Arts/Working Ground, directed by Hannah Dennison. As a company, they created site-specific performances and studied with renowned postmodernists including Simone Forti and Liz Lerman as well as Body-Mind Centering of Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, Somatics and experiential anatomy based on Irene Dowd's Taking Root to Fly.