“I am a Latina/Xicana artist raised in the U.S. Southwest, the aesthetics of the region, including nonWestern aesthetics, inform the movements and themes of my work”

Yvonne Montoya is a recipient of a 2017 Artist Research & Development Grant.

Artist Research and Development Grants are designed to support the advancement of artistic research, aid in the development of artistic work and recognize the contributions individual artists make to Arizona’s communities. For more information about the Artist Research & Development Grant, click here.

The dance film “Reflections” is a collaboration between choreographer/mother Yvonne Montoya and filmmaker Dominic Bonuccelli. Inspired by Montoya’s personal experiences, “Reflections” portrays a day in the life of a working mother, a story not often seen in dance/dance film. The dance film will highlight a raw behind-the-scenes look at the struggles and stresses working parents face on a daily basis. Montoya and Bonuccelli have a shared artistic vision of the film that is gritty, raw, and avant-garde/experimental, utilizing minimal lighting and non-chronological order.

The choreography for the piece is site adaptive, meaning that each movement can be adapted for performance in any location. During the film shoot, choreography was performed multiple times in different locations including, a car, a bus stop, in a home office, on a table, in a kitchen, through hallways, and outdoors. The site adaptive nature of the dance film choreography also ensures that the choreography can be performed live in any location in the future, if necessary.

Photo: Still photograph from “Reflections,” by Dominic AZ Bonuccelli for The MPA Project (c)2016.

Yvonne Montoya is a mother, freelance choreographer, consultant, guest lecturer, and founding director of Safos Dance Theatre based in Tucson, AZ. Originally from Alburquerque, NM, she studied modern dance at the University of Arizona where she earned a B.A. in Spanish and a M.S. in Mexican American Studies graduating summa cum laude. Before founding Safos in 2009, Montoya performed with Tucson-based modern dance companies FUNHOUSE movement theater, New ARTiculations Dance Theatre, Zeffirelli 8, and served as local teaching artist for Ballet Hispanico. Montoya is the lead choreographer for Safos Dance Theatre and was the visionary and director of “Color the Mural/Dancing the Mural,” a two-year community mural project and site adaptive dance theater performance. Under her direction, Safos won the Tucson Pima Arts Council’s Lumie Award for Emerging Organization in 2015.

Montoya is a graduate of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) Leadership Institute and Leadership Advocacy Institute, the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF) Emerging Leaders of Color Leadership Program and Advocacy and Leadership Seminar, a fellow in EmcArts Arts Leaders as Cultural Innovators (ALACI) Cohort 1, and is currently a mentee in Dance/USA Institute for Leadership Training. She worked as Adjunct Faculty at the University of Arizona’s Department of Mexican American Studies (MAS) from 2006-2012 where she taught classes and oversaw student research on Latinx representations. She continues to dance and recently performed with Safos Dance Theatre, Borderlands Theater, the Latina Dance Theater Project and choreographer Norman Walker at Arizona Ballet Theater under the direction of Cecily Winslow-Bressel. She is currently working on a solo project entitled “Motherhood and the Performing Arts” that explores the challenges and rewards of mothers working in the performing arts.

Photo by Dominic AZ Bonuccelli



Banner images (from left to right): Photo of horn by Sadie Hernandez, (cc) 2010. Photo of Johanna Lundy by Erin Clendenin.