AZPM Feature

Performance Explores Subtle Themes of Immigration
Story by Mary Olivas for Arizona Illustrated
January 23, 2014

Dreams and Silhouettes is a project based on interviews with immigrants near Tucson in detention and facing deportation. Using video, audio, live performance and painting this piece is inspired by communities near the border facing these challenges.

Denise Uyehara, director of this multi-disciplinary piece, and also a performance artist and writer, said her work is largely influenced by her background as a Japanese-American and the stories of her family history.

“My parents and grandparents were all interned during World War II. That’s just kind of led me to begin to make links to other communities and their concerns,” Uyehara said. “I found a lot of parallel issues going on.”

The original interviews used were conducted by Jason Aragon, a documentary film maker who often covers immigration issues.

He spoke with women who are facing deportation proceedings as part of a project with the immigrant advocacy group CoaliciĆ³n de Derechos Humanos.

He said this project has allowed him to take his documentary work into a new collaborative space, where he hopes to be more creative.

“It’s a totally different experience than sitting in a theater,” Aragon said. “It’s really this more visceral thing that I like. It’s more emotional,”

“This video or all of this media is kind of the database that all the other performers are going to rely on. They’re the ones who are going to try and connect more to the audience,” said Adam Cooper Teran, who designed the video and audio components of Dreams and Silhouettes. “Having this function as a parallel to all of these performers and bodies moving around makes it challenging.”

Yvonne Montoya is a dancer in Dreams and Silhouettes. She said dance offers a way to communicate the story subtly.

“Dance offers a wonderful, non-verbal outlet for expression. In these topics it can be difficult for people to verbalize or talk about because they’re so deep,” Montoya said.

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Arizona Public Media ran a story on “Dreams & Silhouettes” for its Jan. 23rd edition of AZ Illustrated. Story by Mary Olivas, produced by Luis Carrion with videography by Andrew Brown.


“La Estrella” covers “Dreams / Silhuetas” for the bilingual edition of the Arizona Daily Star. Story by Joseph Trevino.


Art critic and journalist Margaret Regan writes about the latest production of “Dreams and Silhouettes” for the TWeekly, featuring interviews with Uyehara and her ensemble.