We Are Disco Riot

Our mission is to grow social consciousness and connection through collaborative, thought-provoking movement-based arts in San Diego.

disco gives form to riot


DISCO RIOT exists to elevate a collaborative art culture in San Diego and beyond — because the world needs more movement-based art. We connect dancers and artists who want to move themselves and audiences in ways that push boundaries to make high impact art that promotes community, justice, and movement as a form of radical expression.


DISCO RIOT produces and supports innovative dance programming, connects artists across media and form to grow and intensify our community, and provide an educational space that reflects contemporary and progressive professional realities.


Our intent is to incite the exploration and (r)evolution of what our arts community can truly be, and to change the culture of how dance exists within it. Dance is potent; dance should move people. DISCO RIOT is here to make people feel and see something significant, and to move them towards the unexpected.

Artistic Director

Zaquia Mahler Salinas

DISCO RIOT Artistic Director and Co-Founder, Zaquia Mahler Salinas, is a native of 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 from Saint Mary’s College of California where she focused on dance as a platform for social justice. She is currently serving as dance faculty at San Diego City College. As a choreographer, Zaquia has presented dance works throughout California, and more recently in Texas, Peru and Mexico.

Executive Director

Erika Wexler

Erika Wexler is  co-founder and Executive Director of DISCO RIOT.   She grew up in an entrepreneurial family and after graduating with honors from the University of Texas in Austin,  she served as controller for her family’s lucrative hardwood flooring business for numerous years. Since then she has volunteered for several organizations, and served as a board member on  the NWFA. Her love of movement and dance goes all the way back to childhood, and has been an excellent guide to making authentic lifestyle choices. She is an avid traveler, studying and documenting diverse lifestyles and communities around the world.  She believes that through embodied practices, anyone can awaken to the whole self in a way that honors our inherent differences and allows us to feel the intimacy and awe of interconnectedness. She currently resides in San Diego, CA with her husband and two small children.  She balances her fierce sense of responsibility by dancing with her shadow on the beach, socially engaging others and honoring a deep and profound personal practice.

Brand & Marketing

Zach Leffers

Zach Leffers is neither a dancer nor an artist. Rather, he is an adman. Zach has done brand planning & advertising strategy for a variety of national and international brands, including Wendy’s, Titleist, and WD-40. He recently relocated to Kansas City on official cheeseburger business as Senior Planner at renowned global advertising agency VMLY&R. Zach is the Brand & Marketing Overlord for DISCO RIOT.


Desiree Cuizon

Desiree Cuizon earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts, in Dance, from San Diego State University in 2008. Since graduating, she has been a dance company member with Joe Alter Dance Group (2009-2010), The PGK Dance Project (2012-2016) and San Diego Dance Theater (2015 – 2018). Desire has performed in many works choreographed by Zaquia, beginning in 2013 with “in_Genuine.” She continues to work with various independent and local artists, and is looking forward to the first season of DISCO RIOT. She is extremely grateful for this dance community.


Lauren Christie

Lauren Christie is currently dancing professionally with San Diego Dance Theater and Malashock Dance. Since relocating to San Diego, she has been honored to dance for local artists including: Blythe Barton Dance, Erica Buechner, Gina and Kyle Sorenson (somebodies dance theater), Aurora Lagattuta, Zaquia Mahler Salinas, and Chelsea Zeffiro. Described as “fresh and talented” by The Washington Post, Lauren has also performed throughout the Mid-Atlantic region with DC-based Christopher K. Morgan & Artists since 2012. Carmel Morgan of CriticalDance writes that Lauren is “captivating…an agile performer with a knack for getting under your skin.” She is thrilled to join DISCO RIOT for its debut!


Jaime Nixon

Jaime Nixon graduated from London Contemporary Dance School in 2018, where he 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. Jaime trained in Cunningham, Release, Action Theatre, Gaga, Flying-Low, and Contact Improvisation, all of which inspire his own practices. In California, Jaime is now a company member of San Diego Dance Theater and has also performed for Blythe Barton, Somebodies Dance Theatre, Anne Gehman, and Keith Johnson. He has shown his work at The Place’s Robin Howard Theatre, ArtPowers New Adventurers, SDSU’s Make it Concert, CECUT in Mexico, Saville Theatre, Whitebox, and has received awards through SDDT Young Choreographers Showcase & Lux Boreal’s 4×4 TJ Nights. Jaime began dancing at 19 through San Diego City College, and is forever grateful for the guidance and support from the faculty for helping him shape the path and human he has taken on.


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.


Sarah Navarrete

Sarah Navarrete is a dance artist and photographer based out of Austin, Texas. Her work, capturing the moving body, investigates the fabric of our inner world by exploring identity and universal vulnerability. Originally from El Paso, Texas, she was named East Side Magazines Top 5 Artists to watch in 2018.

Honorary Mother of Radical Funk

Elva Salinas

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.

In cooperation with


DISCO RIOT is you, too!

We believe that more collaboration and community (not just artists, but enthusiasts and patrons as well) is the key to growing a healthy and progressive arts scene in San Diego, so check out what we’re up to and join the party! Apply for a residency, come see a show, move with us, volunteer, connect, and share us with your friends. There are so many ways to be part of the DISCO RIOT (r)evolution.

DISCO RIOT can’t do what we do without the generous support of community.

We’d like to send a heartfelt THANK YOU to our Season 2 Donors:


Friends of DISCO RIOT ($100+)

Leslie Armstrong, Tina Carreras, the Christie family, Janet Jarrell, Michelle Josey, Adam Lock, Andrew Lock, Jenn Samore, Elizabeth Weinberg, The VML Foundation


Supporters of the Glitter Hustle ($500+)

Robert Wexler


Advocates of Righteous Movement ($1000+)

Bessemer Trust, Anita Martinez & Jim Mahler, Elva Salinas, Cheers to Family LLC