Rita Honka is a dancer and choreographer in Modern and African Dance with a specialization in movement science. She has created nearly 40 original modern works that have been seen predominantly in the Northwest and Midwest, and has created or restaged more than 30 African dances.
In 1989, Rita received her BS in Dance Education from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. During that time, she performed extensively for the "Michigan Dance in Schools" program. In 1993, she received her MS in Dance Science at the University of Oregon where she concentrated in Human Motor Control. She began teaching at the University of Oregon as a part-time adjunct in 1994, a position that became full-time in 2001. She is now a senior faculty member teaching African and Modern Dance, Somatics, and Dance in Folk Cultures: Africa.
From 1993-2001, Rita was also dance faculty at Linfield College and Director of the Linfield Dance Ensemble. She founded Dance Africa in 1993, and has been touring in Oregon schools as the Director since 1995. In 2005, Rita founded Rita Honka Dance, an Oregon-based contemporary dance company that debuted nationally in September of 2006 in Chicago, Illinois. Rita is also a co-director of The University of Oregon Repertory Dance Company, with whom she teaches and tours throughout Oregon. She has served on the University of Oregon Diversity Advisory Council and has been a member of the African Studies Committee since 1998.
Rita has choreographed numerous pieces for The University of Oregon Repertory Dance Company and Faculty Concerts, the Linfield Dance Ensemble, the Wayne State University Dance Company in Detroit, Michigan, the Willamette University Dancers, and Co-Art Dance Company. Her work has also been seen at the Harold Washington Library Theatre in Chicago, Illinois, the Hult Center for the Performing Arts, the Lord Leebrick Theatre, the Newport Performing Arts Center, the Coaster Theatre in Cannon Beach, the Cottage Theatre in Cottage Grove, at Lane Community College, Southwestern Oregon Community College, as well as in Medford, Bend and Astoria, Oregon.
Brian West is a graduate of the highly respected percussion department in the School of Music and Dance at the University of Oregon. Currently, Brian instructs the ever-popular African Drumming classes at the school of Music and Dance, and has been an accompanist in the Dance Department for 17 years. Combining his teaching and accompaniment skills, Brian conducts various African "Accompaniment Labs" during dance classes, providing his students with a hands-on approach, as well as a professional insight into the accompanist's role in live dance.
When not at the University of Oregon, Brian teaches group lessons and workshops in Eugene at Jill Sager's Hands On Rhythm and Drum School, the Lesson Factory, Lane County Parks, the Oregon Festival of American Music, and other organizations. Brian has opened up a new music studio in Eugene where he teaches private and group lessons in the disciplines of drum set, percussion, guitar, and electric bass.
Brian has performed and toured with many of the Northwest's top acts including the Cherry Poppin' Daddies, whose platinum album, "Zoot Suit Riot" has sold over 2 million copies. His current band, The Sugarbeets have been voted ‘best band' in Eugene seven times in the Eugene Weekly reader's poll, and their latest album "The Secret to Happiness," is enjoying excellent reviews and radio time in the Pacific Northwest. His drum set and percussion work can be heard live and recorded with Laura Kemp, who consistently wins the Eugene Weekly reader's poll for Best Singer-Songwriter. Brian also performs with top Northwest talents such as Alice Demicelli, The Deb Cleveland Band, Colobo, Olem Alves, Don Latarski, and others. He recently recorded a jazz album with award-winning vocalist, Halie Loren entitled "They Oughta Write a Song." The album, which was chosen from over 42,000 submissions and half a millions songs from 163 countries, won "Best Vocal Jazz Album" at the Just Plain Folks Music Awards.
Glenn Bonney has worked as a professional freelance trombonist, percussionist, and sound engineer in Eugene and throughout the Pacific Northwest for over 20 years. He studied music at South Eugene High School, Mt. Hood Community College, and the University of Oregon School of Music. While studying jazz trombone at the UO, his interest in percussion led him to participate in the then fledgling dance accompanist program at the U of O Department of Dance, at which time he met and began collaborating with Brian West and Rita Honka. Some of the many groups he has worked with include; the salsa band Caliente, straight ahead jazz with The Olem Alves Quartet and The Rob Kholer Quartet, "free jazz" with The Church of Redundant Polyphony and Botox, The Aup-Cheip Percussion Ensemble, and The Cherry Poppin' Daddies. Glenn can currently be found performing with the big bands Swing Shift, The Eugene Jazz Composers Orchestra, and the Shedd Institute for the Arts resident jazz band, The Emerald City Jazz Kings. Glenn is also a regular performer with the Oregon Festival of American Music, as well as the Oregon Country Fair's Girl Circus Orchestra and The Flying Instruments of Karma Marching Band. He is drummer and vocalist for the power rock trio The Tripwire Project, and has been the dun-dun player for Dance Africa since its inception.