Latinx dancemakers, arts administrators, and scholars from throughout the region and across the country gathered in Phoenix from April 26-28, 2018, for the inaugural convening of Dance in the Desert, a unique opportunity for the Latinx dance community to come together, deepen relationships, and expand research for the field.
Dance in the Desert included a choreographer’s jam, meetings among dancemakers and arts administrators, and research interviews. The three-day convening concluded on April 28 with a pair of community events: a participant share-out and a reception/pachanga.
Conceived and organized by Tucson-based choreographer and dancer Yvonne Montoya, Dance in the Desert arrives at a critical point for Latinx dancemakers: a moment of aesthetic innovation grounded in the experiences of Latinx communities. Montoya envisions the gathering as a pilot for future Latinx dance initiatives.
I believe Arizona is poised to be a leader in the field of Latinx dance. The Latinx community is the second largest ethnic group in the state of Arizona and growing; audiences are changing and so are the dancers. Additionally, as a border state, Arizona could be a gateway to dance exchanges with Latin America and beyond.
To realize her vision, Montoya engaged a diverse set of partners, including Safos Dance Theatre; AZ ArtWorker, an initiative of the Arizona Commission on the Arts funded by a grant from the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation; Liz Lerman LLC; Phoenix Hostel & Cultural Center; and Projecting All Voices, an initiative launched by ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and supported by ASU Gammage. This project received support from WESTAF and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Yvonne Montoya is a mother, dance maker, consultant, and founding director of Safos Dance Theatre based in Tucson, AZ. Ms. Montoya is a process-based dance maker who creates low tech site specific and site adaptive pieces for non-traditional dance spaces. Her work is grounded in and inspired by the landscape, languages, cultures, and the aesthetics of the U.S. Southwest. She is currently working on two solo projects, “Motherhood and the Performing Arts” a multidisciplinary project that explores the challenges and joys of juggling of motherhood with a career in the performing arts, and “Stories from Home” a series of movement vignettes based on her family’s oral histories. Her choreography has been staged throughout the Southwest and her dance films have been screened in Tucson, North Carolina, Budapest, Hungary, and at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom. Ms. Montoya is currently a Post-Graduate Fellow in Dance at Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts in the Projecting All Voices Initiative. www.yvonnemontoya.co
Safos Dance Theatre is a non-profit modern dance company founded in Tucson, AZ in 2009. We are committed to creating dance that represents the unique aesthetics of the Southwest and the US/Mexico borderlands region. http://safosdance.wixsite.com/safosdance
One of 56 state and jurisdictional arts agencies across the United States, the Arizona Commission on the Arts is a 51-year-old agency of the State of Arizona and a leading force in the creative and professional development of Arizona’s arts sector. https://azarts.gov/
The Arts Commission supports Dance in the Desert through its AZ ArtWorker initiative, which is funded by a grant from the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation.
Projecting All Voices, an initiative of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts supported by ASU Gammage, aims to support equity and inclusion in design and the arts so that our nation’s cultural life honors and represents the full creative diversity of our country’s population. Faculty, students, fellows and guests of the Projecting All Voices initiative research, design, prototype, implement and disseminate ideas and mechanisms for confronting field-level issues of equity in arts and culture. The initiative also supports artists and designers from underrepresented groups through scholarships, fellowships, mentorship and visiting artist residencies. https://herbergerinstitute.asu.edu/research-and-initiatives/projecting-all-voices
Liz Lerman is a choreographer, performer, writer, educator and speaker, and the recipient of honors including a 2002 MacArthur “Genius Grant” and a 2017 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award. Key to her artistry is opening her process to various publics, resulting in research and outcomes that are participatory, urgent, and usable. She founded Dance Exchange in 1976 and led it until 2011. Her recent work Healing Wars toured the US. Liz teaches Critical Response Process, creative research, the intersection of art and science, and the building of narrative within dance at institutions such as Harvard, Yale School of Drama, and Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Her third book is Hiking the Horizontal: Field Notes from a Choreographer. As of 2016 she is an Institute Professor at Arizona State University. https://lizlerman.com/
The Phoenix Hostel & Cultural Center is a traveling organization that caters to international travelers, tourists, students and people of all ages who want to experience the world with an affordable budget. Our hostel offers a combination of common spaces, gardens, reading rooms, dorms spaces, private room, and family rooms to meet the needs of our diverse guests. http://www.phxhostel.org/