My name is Omar Rivéra and I was raised in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, California. Ever since a young age, I was the dramatic child amongst my siblings and cousins. I took every opportunity I had to be expressive and perform in front of an audience. My earliest dance memories stem from being in my backyard choreographing on and with my cousins to Shakira and putting on full productions in front of family members & close friends at gatherings.
It wasn’t until we moved to Texas when I was 11 years old that I had the meaningful conversation with my parents that I wanted to take dance seriously and enroll in weekly dance classes at a local studio. From the first class, I was in awe of having a space that wasn’t my bedroom or living room where I could move and feel free without judgement. I fell in love with the physicality, challenge, and discipline dance offered and for me as a pre-teen it felt like I had found heaven.
One genre interest led to another and before you knew it I had a full load on my shoulders. I then went off to attend Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing & Visual Arts which was when I realized dance was something I wanted to pursue professionally. I had incredible mentors that motivated and pushed me to continue on with dance even with a late start. I then made my decision to attend the University of Arizona – School of Dance, and graduated in 2018 with a BFA in dance.
When did you come to Ballet Hispánico?
I came to Ballet Hispánico following graduation from The University of Arizona. During my senior year, I booked a trip to Dallas in September to watch Ballet Hispánico perform. During my visit, I was able to take a masterclass from rehearsal director Johan Rivera at my old high school, Booker T. Washington HSPVA. After the masterclass, he invited me to take company class with the company later that day. I had the great opportunity to be able to take class on stage with the company before their tech. I remember taking class from Joshua L. Pugh who was teaching that afternoon and thinking, “Wow, what a small world!” Josh was my Modern teacher at my very first summer intensive. The stars were aligning and everything about BH felt right to me. After that day, I went on to continue furthering my relationship with Ballet Hispánico and then auditioned in the spring where I was offered a contract to dance with them for the 2018-19 season.
Why did you choose to come to BH?
I chose to come to BH after the first time I witnessed them perform. For the first time ever, I saw myself being represented as a Mexican-American on stage in the most pristine way. The culture, contemporary elements, elegance, and pride was amusing & addicting! I instantly knew I wanted to be a part of it.
How do you see dance progressing as an art form/what impact do you feel you or your generation of dancers will have on the field of dance?
I see art progressing in many ways. It is now something that people are realizing is invigorating and essential to life. When I think of the impact dance has on individuals, I think about all the young children we teach on tour when we visit their schools and see their faces light up. I think about the adults that thank us after a performance for feeding their souls with energy and inspiration. I think about the energy in a space when we share an evening of Latin social dancing with communities all over the world and how we invite them in on not only what we do, but who we are.
I strongly believe our generation is and will continue to change the way people experience the power of dance and its vitality to our world. Even with the pandemic, we are breaking barriers and pushing boundaries not allowing anything to come in the way that will hold us back from creating, sharing, and experiencing dance.