Salvador Ruiz Esquivel, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Moving Arts Española, Receives UniVisionarios Award
Salvador Ruiz Esquivel, executive director of Moving Arts Española, with his UniVisionarios Awards. Courtesy/DEA
ESPAÑOLA –– Moving Arts Española executive director and co-founder Salvador Ruiz Esquivel has been recognized as one of UniVisionarios’ most influential Hispanics. Ruiz Esquivel received his award in the entrepreneur category.
In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, the 12 recipients were honored at the UNIVISIONARIOS Gala on September 22 in Washington, DC.
This is UniVisionarios’ first initiative to honor America’s most influential Hispanics and how their contributions advance the Hispanic community and this country. Univision recognizes and celebrates entrepreneurs, educators, trailblazers, innovators and icons, as each plays a vital role in the leading and growing Hispanic cultural landscape.
Mexican-born Ruiz Esquivel co-founded Moving Arts Española in 2008 with partner Rep. Roger Montoya. Moving Arts Española, a non-profit community organization, offers after-school and summer dance, movement, and arts programs, as well as free lunch programs and peer-to-peer tutoring to young people in the Rio Grande Valley.
As Executive Director of Moving Arts Española, Ruiz Esquivel has built a strong reputation for transforming children’s lives through vibrant after-school arts and culture programming. This rural community in northern New Mexico bears the brunt of ancestral trauma, addiction and poverty. Adopting the motto “Art is medicine”, Moving Arts Española has become a guiding force in the lives of young people in the 28 communities it serves.
For the past 14 years, Ruiz Esquivel has orchestrated instructors and classroom logistics to deliver high quality, low cost instruction in gymnastics, dance (ballet, creative movement, flamenco, folklorico, hip hop), theater , music (guitar, keyboard, vocals,) culinary and visual arts to up to 450 students per semester. With a background in business, Ruiz Esquivel has helped write grant applications for Moving Arts Española, 82% of which are approved.
Born in 1966 in Guadalajara, Jalisco Mexico, Ruiz Esquivel was the eighth of nine siblings. From her early years in elementary school through high school, Folklorico dancing was her passion and joy. But to repair the relationship with his father, he gave it up. At 23, he left Mexico for Los Angeles, where he completed ESL, perfected his English and became an entrepreneur, importing furniture and accessories from Mexico to the United States. In 1992, he moved his business to Santa Fe.
Shortly after meeting Montoya in 2007, he was invited to teach folk dance and visual arts to students at Española public schools. Ruiz Esquivel had not danced for over 20 years. He saw the children come to life and felt the same joy within him. With his passion reignited, he understood the transformative power of dance, movement and the arts. He saw great need in the Española Valley and believed he and his partner could help neglected and forgotten children in families broken by addiction and trauma.
Fourteen years later, the alumni of Moving Arts Española continue their artistic education and become teachers, art therapists, community leaders and even prima ballerina. More than 60 Moving Arts Española graduates have enrolled in New Mexico School for the Arts High School. With their free meals program, they served over 50,000 nutritious meals that were vegetarian and made with local produce in the kitchen of Moving Arts Española. Opening a 2,400 square foot digital media lab this semester teaches video and film production, editing, music production and culinary arts, as well as career counseling and comprehensive behavioral health services for students aged 13 to 25.
In 2019, Ruiz Esquivel’s partner and co-founder of Moving Arts Española, Montoya, was recognized as a CNN Hero.
Ruiz Esquivel is a beloved teacher, founder and director of Moving Arts Española – a resilient immigrant who has overcome barriers of discrimination, language and assimilation to co-create a remarkable center where cultural expression and art transforms the learning of students and their families. Through her work, thousands of young people have found healing and educational opportunities, graduated from top high schools and colleges, pursued careers in the arts, and become leaders in the community. Ruiz Esquivel raised young people from one of the most vulnerable communities in the country and helped them find the path to success.
Donations to the Moving Arts Española Student Program are tax-deductible and can be mailed to Moving Arts Española, PO Box 505, Velarde, NM 87582.
Contact Ruiz Esquivel at [email protected]