Originally from New York, I am an accomplished dancer, teacher and choreographer who ran my own company, Rita Rivera & Dancers from 1983-1996. I was the founder and artistic director of the Santa Cruz Dance Gallery from 1993-2000, the first independent dance performance center in Santa Cruz, California. I have been a guest artist at Cabrillo College, Theater Arts faculty at San Jose State University, University of California Santa Cruz and Sonoma State University.
My dance training in New York was greatly influenced by dancer and choreographer Erick Hawkins. Erick was the master of natural and fluid movement and was an important voice in the development of contemporary dance in our country. My work with Erick Hawkins lead me to study with Andre Bernard at NY University in the early 70’s with a focus on experiential anatomy and continued studies with Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, the acclaimed founder of the School of Body Mind Centering.
The opening of the Santa Cruz Dance Gallery was an exciting time for me, the dancers of my dance company and our dance community at large.
Opening the Dance Gallery at 418 Front Street was spear-headed my myself and the late Ronn Reinberg, who was instrumental with his support in creating an independent dance/performance studio in Santa Cruz.
My desire to deepen into the field of movement awareness lead me to study the Alexander Technique
for several years before I entered the teachers training program, completing my certification in 1993.
I have completed certification in "Healing the Light Body" through the Four Winds Society, founded by Alberto Villoldo. The Four Winds Society is dedicated to preserving the Incan shamanic traditions by exploring
the realms of the soul, of nature and ancient shamanic rites of passage.
My investigation has taken me into the high Andean mountain passes and to the shores of Lake Titicaca visiting and sitting in ceremony at sacred sites and temples with extraordinary medicine men and women.
I have completed six levels of Visionary Cranio-Sacral training through the Milne Institute in Big Sur, California with Dr. Hugh Milne.
In 1996 I traveled with Luke Chan, who is a master Chi-Lel Chigong practitioner to Qinhuagdao, China. I have received first level certification in Chi-Lel Chigong through the "Medicineless Hospital" founded by Dr. Pang.
Photo Shoot at the Dance Gallery
before renovations began.
Restorative Movement & Dance
The Melt Method
My life long dance training and passion for the healing arts has been my foundation for developing classes that use movement and awareness to facilitate insight, transformation and integration in the Body Mind Spirit.
In 2016 I began to design and offer Restorative Movement & Dance classes and workshops. My desire to keep the body moving and to age gracefully became the driving force in designing classes that that would honor the body in all of its stages.
I have completed the first level certification of the Melt Method, designed to address muscular skeletal stress by using soft & hard balls and a soft roller to re-hydrate our connective tissue system.
The focus of my classes are to:
Keep the body moving by exploring micro movements to pedestrian movements to extended movements
Honor the body, even with perceived limitations
Develop a keen sense of awareness about posture and how we use our body
Open and allow insights that support integrating our structure
Become conscious of the impact of the mind and our thinking
Discover how the mind is reflected back to us through our body
My chi-gong practice is a corner stone in my own wellness program. I offer 3 day intensives and private sessions for people to discover how this practice can facilitate healing and well-being.
Chi-gong for Healing
2020 and Beyond
2020 has been a challenging year, for individuals, families, communities and countries. Besides Covid, here at home in California, we've had devastating fires.
In this time of "figuring things out" I have moved into doing virtual sessions. At first, I was resistant - but, clients wanted to continue to work and I gave it a shot.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn how effective it was to do virtual work. I'm so pleased that I can still continue to work and this also enables me to work with students outside of my area.
So in-person or virtual, we can work together!
Breathe, be present…