“Art creates hope, and with hope anything is possible.”
Marissa began her professional career as an artist at age five, performing with a ballet folklorico company. She went on to dance, choreograph, and direct for film, theatre, television, and the music industry. In 2016, Marissa launched De Mi Alma Productions to share stories of the American Latino experience by creating and producing original content. And with over two decades of experience as a teaching artist — developing arts curriculum, creating original work with young people, and as a facilitator/keynote speaker — Marissa teaches all over the Los Angeles area, including Skid Row, as well as internationally.
What led you to be a teaching artist?
I was born to dance, and my calling is to teach. I had incredible mentors and teachers, and I wanted to be that same foundation. I believe my art is igniting the flame of inspiration, self-love, and creativity in each of my students.
It is grounded in love. I use art (dance, theatre, writing) to create a safe space for kids to share personal narrative, self-express, connect, and heal. It is not about technique. It is about being heard, being seen, and building community. No matter if I am teaching a small group or hundreds of kids, it is my goal to make sure every single one of them knows that they matter, they are loved, and their story is valued. From the moment that students walk in, I let them know that we will hold space for them when they can’t hold it for themselves.
My work is the sociology of communication and the communication of sociology, through the vehicle of art. The incredible art that comes from a sincere place of rawness and authenticity is much more powerful than a pointed toe or perfect turn. And they learn that they can have a positive impact in their communities and their world by sharing their struggles, their achievements, their fears, and their hopes.