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Breathe Here/ Respira Aqui [Current Project]

Directors/Performers: Mirah Kellc Moriarty and Rodrigo Esteva, DANCE MONKS (Mexico/Bay Area)

Photographer/Videographer: Sebastian Esteva, Latinx youth activist

Sound: Live music, TBA, and wisdom stories from current and formerly homeless friends/neighbors

Breathe Here/ Respira Aqui is an interdisciplinary performance installation of temporary refugios/places of refuge designed to draw attention to the need for uplifting, affordable, and culturally vibrant live-work housing for artists and low-income families in the Bay Area. The work speaks to the need for access to land for food cultivation, sanctuaries of rest, and spaces that welcome creativity as a catalyst for change. DANCE MONKS created this project in response to the (intimately related) need for public mental health support and resilience training for turbulent times exacerbated by Covid. They will offer live movement workshops and a short, magical realism film (projected onto public buildings) of self-care sequences, including self-acupressure for resilience, emotional balancing, and immune system support.

WE WELCOME YOUR SUPPORT! We are fundraising for this important project and are also currently seeking an empty house in the East Bay for the temporary public performance installation. Do you own a currently empty place or want to get involved? CONTACT US or DONATE HERE! 

DANCE MONKS participated in The Civic Arts Commission study on affordable housing for artists in 2021. 


Thank you to Berkeley Civic Arts (2021-2022) for your support. Photo Credit: Sebastian Esteva


DANCE MONKS est. 1999, currently live in the San Francisco Bay Area of California in the Xučyun (Huchiun) Lisjan Ohlone lands and in Yucatán, Mexico of the Yucatec Mayans.

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Fire in the Mountain (2020)

Directors: Mirah Kellc Moriarty and Rodrigo Esteva, DANCE MONKS

Photography: Eric Koziol, Eye Lasher Films

Music: Laura Inserra, Samavesha

Official Selection at ODC State of Play Festival (SF) 2022, Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema (SF) 2021, Essence of Embodiment Dance on Film Festival (Jersey City) 2021, and Festival of Latin American American Contemporary Choreographers (San Fransisco) 2020.

UPCOMING SHOWING: at The MilkBar #51 on October 14, 2022 //Buy your Tickets Here

Made possible thanks to a Berkeley Civic Arts Grant and FLACC 2020.  

Photo Credits: Eric Koziol

The Tree and Me (2019) was a duet we created with a large, old Acacia tree on-site at the currently endangered public space, the Albany Bulb.  We began by listening to the stories that were held in the land while asking the question- what wishes to be spoken and what wants to remain in silence?

Commissioned by Bulb Fest 2019 

Photo Credit: Edward Grylich & Sarah Lin

Article in SF Chronicle May 28, 2019

The Wall Between Us (2017) was based on a collection of real stories of families currently separated by the US-Mexico border. The duet was part of an ongoing interdisciplinary exchange between US and Mexican artists to deepen relationships and hold necessary conversations, especially during the political climate.


Premiered at the D.I.R.T Festival, San Francisco.

Photo Credit: Esteva Family Photographer: Robbie Sweeny

TLAOLI: People of the Corn (2016)  was an interdisciplinary investigation of corn as essential to Mexican cultural identity; the mythical relationship between people and plants, traditional sacred farming, and agricultural rituals. The artists asked crucial questions about cultural displacement and amnesia while observing the potential of the arts as seeds to restore soul memory. In times of forced or voluntary migration, what happens to the old stories and traditions that unite people with the earth? How can we, as immigrant artists and cultural centers, create a refuge or a fertile ground for this wisdom to continue to grow for future generations? DANCE MONKS initiated a series of Tiangis (markets) for Mexican immigrants as an essential piece of this project that continues to date.

Directed and performed: by Mirah Moriarty and Rodrigo Esteva with Sebastian Esteva

It was made possible thanks to Doris Duke Foundation with the additional support of the Kenneth Rainin Foundation and the Zellerbach Family Foundation.

Photographer: Robbie Sweeny

Article published by In-Dance June 1, 2016

Review published by Alameda Magazine 2016

Review published by SF Gate June 20, 2016

Review published by SF Chronicle June 23, 2016

View excerpt of Tlaoli: People of the Corn

NOMAD: The Blue Road (2014)  was a site-specific ritual performance that followed the (now primarily) underground Strawberry Creek in Berkeley, California. In response to the California drought and current water crisis around the world, NOMAD invited the audience to remember our vital, often forgotten relationship with water. The event was also held in continuous support of the current international movement to "daylight" rivers in urban places. 

Directed by Rodrigo Esteva and Mirah Moriarty in collaboration with José Navarrete, Debby Kajiyama, Dohee Lee, Adria Otte, Pauchi Sasaki and Jennifer Curtis.

Made possible by the Open Circle Foundation.

Photographer: Ambre Murard

Article published by In Dance May 1, 2014

Review published by Berkeleyside May 19, 2014

View Excerpt of Nomad: The Blue Road

Muru (2012) signifies seed in Quechua and endless dream in Japanese. This interdisciplinary performance included live dance, an orchestra, and video mapping. OIE Collective directed the work with Pauchi Sasaki (Peru), Jennifer Curtis from ICE (NY / SF), Dohee Lee from Puri Project (Korea / SF), and Zulu Tsuruyama (Japan). 
Festival de Artes Escenicas (FAEL) at Municipal Theater of Lima, Peru.
Photo Credits: Edi Hirose

Article published in RPP Noticias February 19, 2012

Article published in Sonidos Peru February 22, 2012

Article published in El Comercio February 28, 2012
View excerpt of MURU


Star Rider (2012) was a site-specific performance on the site at Woodstock Public Library, NY, created by DANCE MONKS in direct collaboration with their son, Sebastian Esteva (at age 9). This whimsical production was inspired by Sebastian's original song of the same title.

Commissioned by the Woodstock Public Library, NY.

Origins (2009) was an in-process sharing of a multimedia creation directed by DANCE MONKS in collaboration with Tawera (Rodney) Bell (formerly of AXIS Dance) and Olivia Eng with live music by Laura Inserra, Pauchi Sasaki and Claudia Cuentas. The artists investigated and chose the mythology of the old world connected to their ancestral origins (Maori, Mexican, Chinese, Slavic) as a starting point.


Made possible by the East Bay Arts Center / Center for Cultural Innovation, The Open Circle Foundation and the Artists Residence Program of NOHSpace, SF.

Road (to Remembrance) (2009) was a solo created by Mirah and inspired by the process of "descansos" or "to put to rest" by Dr. Clarissa Estes, a ritual process that marks the passages of life.  She performed inside a tent she made of more than 1,000 pieces of paper with projections of her ancestors and a sound landscape by the renowned musician, Pauchi Sasaki.

Photo Credit: Rodrigo Esteva

Body & Sound Festival (2012) was curated by DANCE MONKS with movement/practice workshops and live music performances by internationally renowned artists Pauchi Sasaki (Peru / Japan), Laura Inserra (Italy), T-Bird Luv (Brooklyn) and Dohee Lee (Korea).


KUNST STOFF ARTS, San Francisco.

Photo Credit: Pauchi Sasaki

Cave (2009) was a site-specific in a man-made "cave" on the side of the mountain in Hawk Hill, choreographed by DANCE MONKS with dancers Melecio Estrella (by Joe Goode Performance Group), Christine Bonansea, Olivia Eng and guests.
Directed by Laura Inserra de Samavesha and the piece included 20 hang players who were commissioned by Green Music Network.
Montaña Que Habla/ Talking Mountain (2008) was a music and dance collaboration performed by Laura Inserra, Pauchi Sasaki, Claudia Cuentas, Mirah Moriarty and Rodrigo Esteva.

Samavesha Space Richmond, CA.

Postcards of Mexico (2007) was a multimedia contemporary performance with traditional Mexican folk music and photographs of Sebastian Belaustegui (Author of Guardianes del Tiempo / The Guardians of Time).  The piece focused on endangered ways of daily life in Mexico due to the influx of large US corporations.


Premiered at CounterPULSE, SF. Made possible by the Zellerbach Family Foundation.



GREEN: A Force of Nature (2005)  was an interdisciplinary environmental performance focused on returning Nature to cities through body memory. The piece included site-specific video projections filmed along the California coast.


Premiered at CounterPULSE, SF. Performed by Olivia Eng, Mary Starr Hope, Brit Karhoff, Mirah Moriarty and Rodrigo Esteva. Made possible by the Zellerbach Family Foundation and the Círculo Abierto Foundation.

El Otro Lado (The Other Side/of the border) (2005)  was created from a series of interviews conducted by artists (in Spanish and English) to a wide variety of folks living on the Mexican side of the border and their vision of "the other side." This piece asked the questions: How do you envision the "other side?" How do we see ourselves at the US border, along the US and Mexico? What are our experiences? What are our prejudices? What would you like to be different? The recorded interviews were the soundscape of a love duet between the artists Rodrigo (Mexican) and Mirah (born in the United States) and included firsthand experiences of racial prejudice, childhood imaginings, memories and folk wisdom.

Commissioned by the Summer Language Institute of Middlebury College, VT.


Tierra Imaginaria/Imagined Land (2003-04)  was a specific group piece for the site directed by DANCE MONKS at the Universidad IberoAmericana (Universidad IberoAmericana) in Mexico City. The work was carried out in and around the trees on campus and included visual installations of found objects, including mountains of jacaranda flower petals (bluish).

Commissioned by the Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City.




Lulabai (2002) was choreographed for dancers of the Ollin Yoliztli School of Arts. The work was inspired by drawings of elementary students in the Madrid School of their "ideal worlds", which were projected as part of the installation for the live presentation.


Premiered in Escuela Madrid and the UNAM (National University, Mexico City as Colores. Commissioned by Escuela Madrid, Mexico City.





La Casa de las Mariposas/ The Butterfly House (2000) was a series of dreamlike landscapes, inspired by living in the mountains of Xalapa, dancing along streams, rocks and in the forest for 5 to 6 hours a day. The performance included a large papier-mâché, white horse.

The Green Project (2000-present) was created from a deep and modern need for children to reconnect physically and imaginatively with nature through embodied experience. Green is a carefully constructed residency program by which young people or a multigenerational audience move in partnership with the land and each other. The project culminated in an original multimedia presentation with dance, stories and live music created in collaboration with the community, along with professional artists.

Previous youth projects include: The Great Dreamer (Malcolm X), Rain Dances (Highland Elementary), Wild Child and other tall tree tales (Berkeley Arts Magnet), Green Project Bike Tour (East Bay), Madrid School (City of Mexico)) and Conversaciones con árboles, Nayarit (Mexico).

Made possible by The Open Circle Foundation and The Zellerbach Family Foundation.

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