December 10, 2023

Salvador Esquivel has been named a finalist for Univisionarios Most Influential Hispanics. Photo Courtesy Moving Arts
Salvador Ruiz Esquivel, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Moving Arts Española, is on the 2022 list of top ten finalists for UniVisionarios Most Influential Hispanics. Salvador received his award in the entrepreneur category. In observance of Hispanic Heritage Month, the 19 finalists attended the UNIVISIONARIOS gala on September 22 in Washington, D.C. The gala featured performances from top artists, participation from Univision Noticias anchors, journalists, and talent, and engagement from notable Hispanic community leaders. 
This is the first initiative of UniVisionarios to honor the most influential Hispanics in the United States and how their contributions advance the Hispanic community and this country. Univision recognizes and celebrates entrepreneurs, educators, pioneers, innovators, and icons as each plays a vital role in the prominent and growing Hispanic cultural landscape. 
Ruiz Esquivel, a native of Mexico, co-founded Moving Arts Española in 2008 with his partner Rep. Roger Montoya. Moving Arts Española, a community-based nonprofit, provides after-school and summer programs in dance, movement, and the arts, along with free meal programs and peer-to-peer tutoring to the youth of the Rio Grande Valley. 
As Executive Director of Moving Arts Española, Ruiz Esquivel has built a strong reputation for transforming kids’ lives through vibrant art and cultural after-school programming. This rural community in Northern New Mexico carries the weight of ancestral trauma, substance abuse, and poverty. Embracing the motto, “Art is Medicine,” Moving Arts Española has become a guiding force in the lives of youth in the 28 communities it serves. Over the last 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), Drama, Music (Guitar, Keyboard, Singing,) culinary and Visual Arts to as many as 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 his early years in primary school all the way into high school, Folklorico dancing was his passion and joy. But to mend 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 into the U.S. In 1992, he moved his business to Santa Fe, NM. Shortly after meeting Roger Montoya in 2007, he was invited to teach Folklorico dances and visual arts classes to students in the Española Public Schools. Ruiz Esquivel hadn’t danced in over 20 years. He saw the children come alive and felt the same elation within himself. With his passion reignited, he understood the transformative power of dance, movement, and the arts. He saw the great need in the Española Valley and believed he and his partner could help children who were overlooked and forgotten in families broken by drug addiction and trauma. 
Fourteen years later, Moving Arts Española alumni are continuing their arts education and becoming teachers, art therapists, community leaders, and even a prima ballerina. Over 60 Moving Arts Española graduates have enrolled in The New Mexico School for the Arts High School. With their free meals program, they have served over 50,000 nutritious meals that are vegetarian and prepared with locally sourced produce in the Moving Arts Española kitchen. The opening of a 2,400-square-foot Digital Media Lab this semester teaches video and cinema production, editing, music production, and culinary arts, along with career counseling and comprehensive behavioral health services for students 13-25 years old. 
In 2019, Ruiz Esquivel’s partner and Moving Arts Española co-founder Roger Montoya was recognized as a CNN Hero. 
Salvador Ruiz Esquivel is a beloved teacher, founder, and director of Moving Arts Española — a resilient immigrant from Guadalajara, Jalisco Mexico who overcame barriers of discrimination, language, and assimilation to co-create a remarkable center where cultural and artistic expression transforms learning for students and their families. Because of his work, thousands of youth have found healing and educational opportunities, are graduating from the leading high schools and colleges, are building careers in the arts, and becoming leaders in the community. Ruiz Esquivel has uplifted youth from one of the country’s most vulnerable communities and helped them find their path to success. 
Donations to the Moving Arts Española student programming are tax deductible and can be mailed to Moving Arts Española, PO Box 505, Velarde, NM 87582. 
Contact Salvador Ruiz by email at

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


About Author

Leave a Reply