Director of Dance
Ms. Cartagena’s training includes the American Dance
Festival, International Ballet Competition, Ballet
Aspen/Ballet West, Harvard University, two
consecutive scholarships to the Joffrey Ballet,
Florida State University (BFA), and the University
of California, Irvine (MFA)Her recent performance in
Loretta Livingston's Blooming, Re-Joyceing,
was named one of the Best Dance Performances of
2006 by the LA Times. Currently Alyson
is working on certification in Integrated Movement
Studies at Loyola Marymount University and
certification in Isadora Duncan technique in New
Article published: June 8, 2010
Orange County Register
Alyson Cartagena's life is 'the dance'
ALISO VIEJO – Alyson Cartagena of Aliso Viejo is
doing what she loves at Rio Hondo College as an
assistant professor and director of dance. Light on
her feet, Cartagena teaches advanced students, and
her company in which she dances, Loretta Livingston
& Dancers, was once named one of the top 10 best
dance performances by dance critic Lewis Segal from
the Los Angeles Times. Read On.
Q: What were your career dreams as a kid?
A: I always wanted to tour and perform as a dancer
and fortunately that dream came to fruition having
traveled to Japan, Mexico, New York and Texas. I
never imagined myself as a professor, but being the
director of dance is an extension of my dream with
even further reaching success because I am assisting
others in reaching their goals.
Q: What is the Rio Hondo Dance?
A: The Rio Hondo Dance Collective is a touring
ensemble comprised of Rio Hondo College's advanced
dancers. Under my direction, the repertory company
performs at area festivals, workshops, and dance
concerts, including Evening of Dance and Works in
Progress. Collective dancers also represent the
college at the American College Dance Festival.
Q: Could you tell us about your role as director?
A: I serve as choreographer, rehearsal director,
fundraising coordinator, and producer of the Rio
Hondo Dance Collective, as well as teach and manage
the dance, yoga, and Pilates courses.
Q: How long have you been dancing?
A: I have been dancing professionally for more than
18 years. My last project was when I was nine months
pregnant with my daughter. It was the most beautiful
solo I have ever been lucky enough to perform and
one of my favorite Los Angeles concerts.
Q: What is your training?
A: The American Dance Festival, International Ballet
Competition, Ballet Aspen/Ballet West, Harvard
University, two consecutive scholarships to the
Joffrey Ballet, Florida State University (Bachelor
of Fine Arts), and the University of California,
Irvine (Master of Fine Arts).Recent projects include
performing in the world premier of Loretta
Livingston's "Two Thousand Steps" at the Orange
County Performing Arts Center, "Dances for White
Rooms" at the Luckman Center, "Read the Bones" as
part of L.A. County Library's Soundings series, and
"Almost There," a site specific work in Los Angeles'
7th Street Metro station.
Q: Any community volunteering or philanthropic work
A: As an educator, I am always volunteering my time
and talent to assist students. This may mean working
late nights in the theater or full weekends with
dance projects (auditions, workshops, performances,
and fundraising activities).
Q: How has what you are doing benefited or enhanced
A: It is my life. All the joys and struggles of the
everyday are reflected and mirrored in dance.
Q: What is the best part of what you do?
A: I really enjoy working with all levels of dance
students. Nothing is more satisfying than helping a
beginner transition from their first dance class to
performing on stage. It is also equally satisfying
to see a well-skilled or technical dancer transform
from a student to professional with full effort
"Caught in the Act"
like to nominate Alyson Cartagena for all the time
she has spent with providing the school and
community with dance performances. In the last
month, she choreographed a performance for the Gala,
hosted national dance week (offering five different
master classes), had the “Evening of Dance” for
three nights (Thur-Sat--all packed—standing room
only), then performed at Soka University the day
after (Sunday), and then once more for the
children’s center (Monday). If that isn’t a sign of
dedication and hard work, I don’t know what is! In
addition to all the dance events, she also helped me
and co-coordinated “Summer Shape-Up”. Can we say
dance artist and former member of Loretta Livingston
and Dancers, a contemporary dance performance
ensemble based in downtown Los Angeles. Ms. Lopez
has also worked with choreographers Ellen Davis,
Carol McDowell, Jeremy Hahn, Arianne Hoffman, Diana
Smiarowski and Meg Wolfe. Rachel has performed in
Mexico at El Centro Cultural Tijuana with Grupo de
Danza Minerva Tapia and in New York as a part of
Movement Research at the Judson Church. Most
recently she performed Keith Glassman's work in
coffeehouses around Los Angeles. As a
choreographer she has created work for Highways
Performance Space, American College Dance Festival,
Rio Hondo College, Santa Monica College's Synapse
Dance Theater, El Camino College and Kol Neshama
Performing Arts Conservatory. In 2010 she was
awarded a Durfee Grant and created Thanksgiving for
Heroes, in collaboration with the San Francisco Bach
Choir, a site-specific dance honoring fallen heroes.
Rachel currently teaches yoga, Pilates and modern
dance at Rio Hondo College and has taught at Cal
State Long Beach, Long Beach City College, American
College Dance Festival and Saint Joseph's Ballet.
She runs Creative Movement Dance Studio,
improvisation and choreography classes for young
girls, carrying on the tradition of her mentor Karen
Fox. Rachel received a BA in Psychology from U.C.
Santa Cruz and an MFA in Dance from U.C.Irvine.
McDowell is an interdisciplinary dance artist
and educator. Born in California and raised in
Hawai’i, she fell in love with modern dance while
studying with Betty Jones. Since then, McDowell has
danced Kei Takei's "Light," Jack Moore’s "Four
Songs," Pooh Kaye’s "Active Graphics," Barbara
Dilley’s "Naked Face," Tim Miller's "Cost of
Living", and most recently Victoria Mark's "Medium
Big Inefficient Considerably Imbalanced Dance." Her
own work has been presented at the Craftwoman House,
Skirball Cultural Center, Sweeney Art Gallery,
Anatomy Riot, Highways Performance Space, The
Kitchen, Dance Theater Workshop, Performance Space
122, and abroad. Grants and artist residencies have
come from Hothouse/UCLA, Indonesian Dance Festival,
National Dance/Media Fellowship, APPEX, Djerassi
Foundation, Colorado Arts Council, Aesthetic
Education Institute of Colorado, Jerome Foundation,
DIA Art Foundation, and Hawaii Department of
Recent projects include collaborative projects with
performance artist Mariel Carranza, Jerri Allen &
Inez Bush’s “Debating through the Arts,” and
choreography for Asher Hartman’s “Annie Okay”
presented by Machine Projects at the Hammer Museum.
McDowell is completing her PhD in Culture and
Performance at UCLA. She teaches dance studies,
composition, improvisation, repertory and yoga at
CSULB, Rio Hondo College, and West LA College, and
has been a guest artist at Pomona College and
Moorty is a choreographer, interdisciplinary
performer, and educator whose work draws on
contemporary Indian and western dance, theater, and
community engagement. She is co-founder of the Post
Natyam Collective (www.postnatyam.net)
and has toured individual and collaborative
performances to Canada, Europe, and India and since
2004. She has also performed her work locally in
venues such as the Barclay theater, the Hollywood
Bowl, and the Red Cat. Shyamala has also been making
work with TeAda Productions (www.teada.org)
since 2002, including two interdisciplinary solo
shows: Carrie’s Web, and RISE - which was acclaimed
as a “tour de force” in the LA Times. As a
performer, she has worked as an ensemble member with
Great Leap, the Rangoli Foundation, and as a soloist
and principal dancer for the Aman International Folk
Ensemble. Shyamala holds an MFA in choreography from
UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures, and
has taught dance, yoga and pilates at UCLA, Cal Poly
Pomona, Cerritos College, Cypress College, LA Trade
Tech College, Rio Hondo College and West LA College.
Her yoga teacher training was completed at Yoga
Works and her Pilates Mat Certification was done
with BASI. Dedicated to healing and connecting
individuals and communities, Shyamala and also
facilitates healing through the arts for women who
have experienced domestic violence and other
traumas. Shyamala has been honored to received two
Durfee ARC grants, and a Long Beach Arts Council
Professional Artist Fellowship.
Joel Smith is a director,
choreographer and performer with an MFA in
experimental choreography from UC Riverside and BA
in studio art and theater design from UC Davis. He
is the co-artistic director of casebolt and
smith, a duet dance theater company, with
artistic partner Liz Casebolt. Founded in 2006,
casebolt and smith is based in Los Angeles,
tours nationally and internationally, is a member of
Pentacle (DanceWorks Inc) and has been presented at:
Vancouver International Dance Festival, Cathedral
Quarter Arts Festival in Belfast, N. Ireland, Joyce
SoHo in NYC, Contemporary Arts Forum in Santa
Barbara, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Tempe
Center for the Arts in Tempe, St. Joseph College in
Brooklyn, Southern Theater in Minneapolis, Culver
Center for the Arts in Riverside, Highways
Performance Space in Los Angeles, and Actors Company
Theatre West Hollywood. Smith is also on faculty at
Scripps College, UC Riverside, and UCLA.