Urban Bush Women
Urban Bush Women (UBW) is a Brooklyn, New York-based non-profit dance company that was founded in 1984 by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar. It is an ensemble of seven women who perform very diverse pieces choreographed by Jawole as well as many other reputable choreographers.
The UBW performances are dedicated to exploring the cultural influences of the African Diaspora and are very strong works based on women's experiences. Their fan base is quite diverse; they tour locally and internationally where they often receive standing ovations for pieces such as "Batty Moves" and their very popular production "Hair stories".
UBW has presented New York City and throughout the United states, Asia, Australia, South America, Europe and in 2008 will embark on project in Senegal with acclaimed Jant-Bi; a contemporary African dance company founded on 1998. This very influence female ensemble's Festival appearances include Jacob's Pillow, Spoleto USA, National Black Arts Festival, Dance Umbrella UK and Lincoln Center. The Company has been commissioned by major presenters nationwide, and includes among its honors a 1992 New York Dance and Performance Award ("Bessie"); the 1994 Capezio Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance; and a 1998 Doris Duke Award for New Work from the American Dance Festival.
The company's repertoire consists of approximately 29 works. Zollar works include collaborations with jazz artist David Murray; poets Laurie Carlos and Carl Hancock Rux; directors Steve Kent and Elizabeth Herron; and the National Song and Dance Company of Mozambique (supported by The Ford Foundation's Africa Exchange Program).
One of UBW's missions is to build communities through the arts, thus they have developed a Summer Institute in Brooklyn NY which was founded in 1997. The program educates young dancers about political and cultural situations in their environment through the use of dance, music and poetry. Urban Bush Women (UBW) is proudly based in Brooklyn, New York. The company has been presented extensively in New York City and has toured throughout the United States and to Asia, Australia, Europe and South America. UBW was recently selected by the U.S. State Department as one of three U.S. dance companies to inaugurate its DanceMotion USA cultural exchange program and returned to South America in March 2010 for this program. Festival appearances include Jacob’s Pillow, Spoleto USA, National Black Arts Festival, Dance Umbrella UK and Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival.
UBW has been commissioned by major presenters nationwide, and counts among its honors a 2004 Doris Duke Award for New Work from the American Dance Festival and a New York Dance and Performance Award ("Bessie") in 1992. The company’s repertory consists of 33 works choreographed by Zollar including ambitious collaborations with jazz artist David Murray; poets Laurie Carlos and Carl Hancock Rux; directors Steve Kent and Elizabeth Herron; and the National Song and Dance Company of Mozambique (supported by The Ford Foundation’s Africa Exchange Program). In 2008 the company toured to 23 U.S. cities including New York City (the prestigious BAM Next Wave Festival), and to Canada and Germany with “Les écailles de la mémoire (The Scales of Memory),” an evening-length work created in collaboration with Germaine Acogny and her all-male Compagnie JANT-BI of Senegal.
UBW also uses art to create community. Long-term community engagement residencies culminating in public performances have been produced in New Orleans, Sarasota, Philadelphia, New Haven, Tallahassee, Riverside (California), and Flint (Michigan). Each summer UBW produces and hosts its Summer Leadership Institute, an intensive training program in dance and community engagement for artists with leadership potential interested in building community, addressing issues of social justice and developing a community focus in their art-making. In 2009 the Institute was relocated to New Orleans where UBW seeks to contribute to the city's re-building effort in partnership with local artists and activists including The People’s Institute for Survival & Beyond.
Mission Statement Founded in 1984 by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Urban Bush Women seeks to bring the untold and under-told histories and stories of disenfranchised people to light through dance. We do this from a woman-centered perspective and as members of the African Diaspora community in order to create a more equitable balance of power in the dance world and beyond.