Dance in the Desert: A Gathering of Latinx Dancemakers

Dance in the Desert: A Gathering of Latinx Dancemakers was founded in 2018 by Yvonne Montoya. For the past three years, a core team of partners, including Erin Donohue, Liz Lerman LLC, Safos Dance Theatre, sand AZ ArtWorker a program of Arizona Commission on the Arts funded by the Tremaine Foundation have co-led and co-developed the initiative. The successes of Dance in the Desert are palpable with preliminary impacts on the field. Montoya has been honored with two national fellowships, in part because of her work on DITD. DITD also served as a catalyst for participating dancemakers. After the 2018 gathering, Douglas, AZ-based dancemaker Adriana Harris was selected for the Molly Blank Fund Teaching Artists Program where she was trained in the Kennedy Center arts integration method at Arizona State University Gammage. Harris learned of the opportunity after meeting ASU Gammage staff at DITD. In 2019, “Menudo” a piece by Phoenix-based choreographer Angelina Ramírez that was incubated at DITD, was selected to be performed at Blaktinx in Phoenix and Los Angeles, increasing the visibility and status of an Arizona-based dancemaker. For the most part, these opportunities would not have occurred without DITD providing the resources to incubate new works and the opportunities to build, nurture relationships across communities and geographies.

DITD addresses systemic deficits in dance in the Southwest by providing a space that redresses geographic isolation and centers local expertise.


DITD 2020 was set to take place the first weekend of May in Douglas, AZ/Agua Prieta, SON. This gathering was to be the first  binational gathering of Dance in the Desert, connecting AZ-based Latinx dance artists with Mexican dance artists. The gathering going to be a series of professional development workshops, master classes, and showings of works-in-progress. Twenty choreographers and dancers were invited from the following Arizona communities: Tucson, Douglas(US)/Agua Prieta(MX), Phoenix. DITD master classes would have been free and open to the Douglas/Agua Prieta community.  Due to COVID19, the gathering was postponed until further notice. However, Dance in the Desert 2020 offered a series of free professional development webinars that are open to the Latinx and Arizona dance communities. To view those webinars, click here.


Latinx dancemakers from across Arizona gathered in Tucson from May 15-19, 2019, for the second annual 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 2019 engaged Arizona-based Latinx choreographers and dancers in a choreography retreat and professional development series that supported the development of new work. The gathering featured workshops by renown choreographers Liz Lerman and Ana Maria Alvarez. In its second year, founder Montoya hopes to deepen the conversation around the community’s unique assets and potential. For more information click here.


Conceived and organized by Tucson-based choreographer and dancer Yvonne Montoya, Dance in the Desert brought Latinx dancemakers together for three-day gathering Inaugural convening held in Phoenix, April 26-28, 2018.  Dance in the Desert included a choreographer’s jam, meetings among dancemakers and arts administrators, and research interviews. The three-day convening concluded  with a community share-out and public reception.  Dance in the Desert arrived 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. 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. The inaugural Dance in the Desert occurred during Montoya's post-graduate fellowship at Arizona State University. For more information click here.

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