Rita Honka is a dancer and choreographer in Modern and African Dance with a specialization in Somatics. She began teaching at the UO as a part time adjunct in 1994, a position that became full time in 2001. In addition to African and modern dance technique she teaches Body Fundamentals, Improvisation, Repertory, and Dance in Folk Cultures: Africa. She is the founder and director of Dance Africa, she has recently founded Rita Honka Dance, an Oregon-based contemporary dance company, and is a co-director of the University of Oregon Repertory Dance Company, with whom she choreographs, teaches and tours throughout Oregon. As a dancer, Rita toured extensively in Michigan for the Michigan Dance in Schools program and has been touring in Oregon schools since 1995 as the director of Dance Africa. Dance Africa has the dual purpose of working with artists from a variety of African ethnic groups and subsequently performing and teaching in area schools. Rita is responsible for producing concerts and residencies with internationally known African performing artists such as Mabiba Baegne and Massengo Constant (Congo), Youssouf Koumbassa and Mamadouba Camara (Guinea), Maputo and Mawuenyega Mensah (Ghana), Julia Chigamba and Duncan Allard (Zimbabwe), Lucky Moyo (Zimbabwe), Kouessan Abaglo (Togo), and Matshabe Nthabu (South Africa).
Rita Honka received her BS at Wayne State University in Detroit Michigan in 1989, and her MS in Dance Science at the University of Oregon in 1993, where she specialized in Human Motor Control. She taught for eight years at Linfield College in McMinnville Oregon, and her work has been produced extensively at Linfield and UO, as well as Willamette University , Lane Community College and for the Co-art Dance Company.
From 1993-2001 Rita Honka was also on the dance faculty at Linfield College and Director of the Linfield Dance Ensemble. In addition to her research on Africa and the African Diaspora, Rita’s interests include education and motor control. She has served on the University of Oregon Diversity Advisory Council and has been a member of the African Studies Committee since 1998.