Team DISCO RIOT

DISCO RIOT is here to produce and support innovative dance programming, and the folks listed below carry that mission in a myriad of ways as part of Team DISCO RIOT. There’s a ton of work (and play) to be done in this (r)evolution, and these brilliant and dedicated people are part of what makes it possible.

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DISCO RIOT Artistic Director and Co-Founder, Zaquia Mahler Salinas, is from San Diego. After receiving her BA in Dance with Honors from UC Santa Barbara in 2011, she returned to San Diego and danced for Jean Isaacs’ San Diego Dance Theater from 2012-2018. In 2017 she obtained her MFA in Dance: Creative Practice with Honors from Saint Mary’s College of California where she focused on dance as a platform for social justice. Zaquia is also a dance educator; she is the Coordinator of the Envision Dance program and Conservatory at Canyon Crest Academy. As an artist, Zaquia has been choreographing and producing work since 2011, and has presented live and filmed dance works throughout California, Texas, Peru and Mexico.

Zaquia Mahler Salinas

Artistic Director
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Marty graduated with a BA in Dance from New Mexico State University in 2011. He performed in San Diego Dance Theater's Annual Trolley Dances in the Fall 2011, which inspired a relocation to San Diego. Since then, Marty continues to perform in Trolley Dances each year and danced for many local San Diego dance artists and companies including Visionary Dance Theater (2012-2015), The PGK Dance Project (2014-2020) , Compulsion Dance and Theater (2014-2019), as a guest artist for San Diego Dance Theater (2019), and he’s currently a company dancer for Malashock Dance (2014-present). He has also been exploring his creative side more recently, choreographing work for productions with Diversionary Theater and DISCO RIOT. Marty is thrilled with his decision to move to Southern California and be part of such a wonderful community of devoted artists.

Marty Dorado

Dance
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Sol dela Rosa graduated from London Contemporary Dance School in 2018, where they had the honor of teaching through The Place CAT Scheme, as well as performing for Theo Clinkard, James Cousins, Xin Xin Song, and Hofesh Schecter. Sol trained in Cunningham, Release, Action Theatre, Gaga, Flying-Low, and Contact Improvisation, all of which inspire their own practices. In California, Sol has been a company member for San Diego Dance Theater and has also performed for Blythe Barton, Somebodies Dance Theatre, Anne Gehman, and Keith Johnson. They have shown their work at The Place’s Robin Howard Theatre, ArtPowers New Adventurers, SDSU’s Make it Concert, CECUT in Mexico, Saville Theatre, White Box, and has received awards through SDDT Young Choreographers Showcase & Lux Boreal’s 4×4 TJ Nights. Sol began dancing at 19 through San Diego City College, and is forever grateful for the guidance and support from the faculty for helping them shape the path and human they are becoming.

Sol dela Rosa

Dance
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Lauren Christie has been a member of DISCO RIOT since its inception. She also performs with Malashock Dance and San Diego Dance Theater. Since moving to San Diego, Lauren has been honored to work with many local artists including: Blythe Barton Dance, Erica Buechner, Thom Dancy, Jean Isaacs, John Malashock, Zaquia Mahler Salinas, Khamla Somphanh, Gina and Kyle Sorenson (somebodies dance theater), and Chelsea Zeffiro. She has also performed throughout the Mid-Atlantic region with DC-based Christopher K. Morgan & Artists (2012-2018). Carmel Morgan of CriticalDance writes that Lauren is “captivating…an agile performer with a knack for getting under your skin.” She received her early training at the Ballet Memphis School, and earned her BA with Honors in Public Communication and French with a dance minor from American University. In addition to her work as a performing artist, Lauren also teaches yoga and movement, and occasionally choreographs her own work.

Lauren Christie

Dance
Nicole

Nicole Oga is a radical thinking dance artist and community organizer who approaches her work through an intersectionality lens that is influenced by abolition and socialism work. She was born and raised in Novato, CA where her dance journey began by joining the high school show choir. She moved down to San Diego and received a BA in Dance from UC San Diego. Nicole is trained in contemporary, modern, improvisation, ballet, jazz, tap, and contact improvisation. She is a constant student who believes life is a continuous journey of learning, growing, and evolving. In both her dance and organizer work, Nicole regularly questions and evaluates her practices and methodologies to ensure she is inclusive and in true solidarity with her community - listening to, collaborating with, and centering those who are at the margins. Nicole cultivates genuine empathy, compassion, and kindness through embodying revolutionary love, which will transform the world into an equitable society where all are truly liberated.

Nicole Oga

Dance
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Chelsea Zeffiro is a dance artist specializing in experimental and collaborative performance between theater, dance, and film. Zeffiro’s current practice is rooted in research, writing, and process – devising character and script reflexively, with who and what is in the room. As a performer, Zeffiro works collaboratively with artists, choreographers, and directors on processes wherein she is able to utilize her improvisational and technical background from development through performance. Zeffiro received her BA in Comparative Literature from the University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA) and her MFA with a Fellowship in Dance from the University of the Arts (Philadelphia, PA).

Chelsea Zeffiro

Dance
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Odessa Mae Uno is a Filipino American movement based artist currently working in Southern California. With a mission to make dance an accessible art form, her current practice involves developing and nurturing spaces that encourage movement as therapy, investigation, and celebration. The foundation of all of her work endlessly references her belief in the importance of community, love, and integrity. She currently choreographs her own works and performs with various projects and companies throughout San Diego including Fresh Congress Dance, Maraya Performing Arts, Malashock Dance, and San Diego Dance Theater. Uno received her BFA in Dance from California Institute of the Arts where she studied performance, choreography, and pedagogy.

Odessa Uno

Dance
Guillermo

Guillermo Castro from San Diego, CA, is a University of California, Santa Barbara graduate with a BFA in Dance and Choreography with honors. His formal dance training began at the age of 13, training under Rayna Stohl and Ericka Moore. After high school, Guillermo stayed local and continued at MiraCosta, training and performing. During his time in San Diego, he had the pleasure of working with choreographers Khamala Somphanh, Zaquia Mahler Salinas, and Sadie Weinberg. He has performed with Unity Dance Ensemble, Selah Dance Collective, Nebula Dance Lab, The UCSB Dance Company and was an apprentice with Santa Barbara Dance Theater under the direction of Christopher Pilafian. Guillermo has performed works by Jose Limon, Shen Wei, Andrea Shermoly, Stephanie Miracle, Brandon Whited, Nancy Colahan, Edgar Zendejar, and Ephrat Ashire, amongst others. Guillermo has recently moved back to San Diego, and is excited to be dancing with DISCO RIOT for its third season.

Guillermo Castro

Dance
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Desiree Cuizon achieved a Bachelor of Fine Arts, in Dance, from San Diego State University in 2008. She had the privilege to perform and travel internationally in Mexico, Switzerland, Germany, Poland, and Indonesia. Since graduating she became a dance company member with Joe Alter Dance Group (2009-2010), The PGK Dance Project (2012-2016) and San Diego Dance Theater (2015 – 2018). Desiree also worked with various independent and local artists including: Somebodies Dance Theater, Anne Gehman, Blythe Barton Dance, Boroka Nagy, Khamla Somphanh, IsadoraNow, `{`the`}` movement initiative and more. In 2016, Brittany Taylor and Desiree premiered their first co-choreographed work, Avenue Lexicon, and since then they continue to collaborate via the B.A.D. Dance Collective. Most recently she is grateful for the performance and creative opportunities Zaquia Mahler Salinas has created through DISCO RIOT. In addition to dancing professionally, Desiree is a certified Massage Therapist and Pilates Instructor. She is currently back in school to achieve her Doctorate in Physical Therapy in order to work with dancers and other athletes via injury prevention, rehabilitation, and refined performance skills.

Desiree Cuizon

Queer Mvmnt Fest Lead Artist
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Trystan Merrick studied ballet under the tutelage of Ahita Ardalan, formerly of the Paris Opera Ballet. In addition to most of the full length classical ballets, they have performed the works of such great choreographers as Twyla Tharp, Robert Cohen, James Canfield, Peter Anostos, Septime Webre, Merce Cunningham and George Balanchine to name a few. Trystan started their professional career with Nevada Ballet Theater in 2007, and has since danced for San Diego Ballet, San Diego Dance Theater, Malashock Dance, Owen Cox Dance, Concept Zero, City Ballet of San Diego, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, and The California Ballet. Through the lens of a queer nonbinary artist, Trystan has presented work for DISCO RIOT, San Diego Dance Theater, and The California Ballet. While navigating their performance career Trystan prioritized developing experience as a teacher, choreographer, and artistic leadership. They believe that being able to relate and empathize with intersectionality within our dance and queer communities will certainly bring us to a future were there is opportunity for all.

Trystan Merrick

Queer Mvmnt Fest Lead Artist
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Gloria Lanuza, arts educator, advocate, performance artist and creator, has been surrounded by global art and culture since childhood. Her family of artists and educators guided Gloria’s training, performance opportunities and arts experiences throughout her childhood and adolescence. Lanuza began her arts training with classical piano, violin and Ballet, and then in her young adulthood, Ms. Lanuza chose to focus on global art forms. Her love for world art and culture has opened many opportunities and has given Gloria perspective on the positive impacts that can come from learning and understanding another's artistic expression. Gloria has performed professionally for 20 years and throughout that time has also produced, choreographed, directed and taught for many well renowned educational institutions, corporations, community organizations and international tours. Recently, besides her professional dance work, Lanuza has begun taking on more administrative roles, and is thrilled to use her skills with Disco Riot. She is proud to work for a local dance art company that challenges how we view, create and experience dance. ``I will strive to uphold the vision and mission of DISCO RIOT, through my work in past experiences as a dance artist and arts advocate, with responsible engagement, organization and clear communication towards our employees, collaborators and community.``

Gloria Lanuza

Operations Manager
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Jonny Tarr. I am originally from Wales, UK, but somehow always knew I would end up in California. I started playing the saxophone when I was 11 years of age because I thought it would get me girls and I ended up really loving it. I got involved with Jazz early on and found that this was a solid foundation for understanding many more genres of music. I went to Paul McCartney's Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts to get my music degree and after college I toured Europe, the US and Japan and played nearly every major festival in the UK. I was one of the first people in Europe to play saxophone with House music DJs and found that I was very interested in music that made people dance. This is the music I want to create. With the realization that the Sax is not really a writing tool, I taught myself guitar and piano. I used my understanding of music theory to help me form bands and a unique solo show where I can pretty much incorporate all of my skills at once.

Jonny Tarr

Music
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Taylor is a San Diego-based Lighting Designer who is grateful to be a part of the DISCO RIOT team; she believes that DISCO RIOT is the future of dance in San Diego. She attended California State University, Fullerton, where she received her B.A. in Theatre Arts for Design and Production, where she became fascinated with lighting design. She has worked with DISCO RIOT, San Diego Dance Theatre, Malashock Dance, San Diego Ballet and collaborated with choreographers in Southern California. She is grateful to be a part of the creative process and in collaboration with innovative artists to bring impactful storytelling to the dance community. Taylor is thankful for her supportive family, friends, and the DISCO RIOT team throughout her design career.

Taylor Olson

Lighting
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Erika is the Co-Founder and Board Director/CFO of DISCO RIOT. She grew up in an entrepreneurial family and after graduating with honors from the University of Texas in Austin, served as controller for her family’s lucrative hardwood flooring business. Since then she has volunteered for several organizations, and served as a board member on the NWFA. She is fiercely dedicated to her family and community, and believes that through art-making and embodiment, we can cultivate increased awareness and celebration for the diversities of our lifestyles, as well as the awe of interconnectedness that is inherent in the everyday.

Erika Wexler

Board of Directors
Joyce

is a SoCal native, trained in modern, contemporary, jazz, ballet, and tap. She is a certified Progressing Ballet Technique® (PBT) instructor. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from UCLA. As a dance teaching artist, Joyce has trained dancers of all ages and has performed and collaborated with artists all over California - Modern City Repertoire, Strong Pulse Dance, Epiphany Dance Theater, Surhabi Suraf, Sarah Bush Dance, Amy Lewis, Five Feet Dance, and Chris Black Dance. In 2015, Joyce founded TILTshift Dance. Now in San Diego, Joyce continues to teach and make work.

Joyce Lien Kushner

Board of Directors
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Jennifer Samore currently works in the pharmaceutical industry supporting the development of novel drugs for neurological and endocrine disorders. She holds a Bachelor’s in Biochemistry from UCSD and a Masters in Kinesiology from PLNU. She is also a certified yoga teacher and Mindfulness meditation teacher. She studied the Clinical Applications of the Polyvagal Theory in Barcelona with Deb Dana and completed the Beginning and Intermediate Somatic Experiencing Training. She believes deep listening and movement are the medicine of the moment and she is committed to crafting a vital life.

Jennifer Samore

Board of Directors
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Zach Leffers is neither a dancer nor an artist. Rather, he is an adman. Zach has done brand & advertising strategy for a variety of national and international brands, including Wendy’s, Facebook Reality Labs, The North Face, and Dick's Sporting Goods. He is currently the Strategy Director at renowned advertising agency Mekanism SF. Living in Kansas City with his 3-year-old dog and 18-year-old cat, you'll probably find him climbing up rocks or shaking tiki cocktails. Zach is the Brand & Marketing Overlord for DISCO RIOT.

Zach Leffers

Board of Directors
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Elva Salinas currently serves as Trustee on the Grossmont Union High School District Board and delegate of the California State Board Association where she continues her work in equitable and affordable education and humane immigration rights advocacy. She is Professor Emeritus of English and Chicano studies with 39 years of teaching and professional leadership training experience at San Diego City College. She is the recipient of the Golden Apple -Faculty of the Year Award, KPBS and Union Bank Hispanic Heritage Local Hero Award in education and the Board of Governors Exemplary Program Award for A Pedagogy of Love: A Professional Development Model for Educational Practitioners. She believes that education must be transformational, that culturally and personally relevant experiences are essential to learning and that each one of us can become social change agents.

Elva Salinas

Honorary Mother of Radical Funk

We work with many other artists in San Diego and beyond – you can find info about these artists linked to the projects they’ve contributed to.