“When I began Urban Bush Women in 1984,” writes founding artistic director Jawole Willa Jo Zollar on the company’s website, “I envisioned a company founded on the energy, vitality and boldness of the African American community that I grew up in. I wanted a company that brought forth the vulnerability, sassiness and bodaciousness of the women I experienced growing up in Kansas City. My goal was to use those experiences as a vehicle for my choreographic voice. That was now 25 years ago. UBW has grown to be that and more.”
Through the decades, the company has inspired criticism, scholarship and scores of other dance makers by creating work with power and commitment, with attitude and political engagement. Sunday night, the company will perform “Zollar: Uncensored” at Ted Mann Concert Hall.
The piece is a collection of feminist works from the ’80s and ’90s, some of them commissioned by the Walker Art Center, which went largely unperformed and unseen — in part because of the Jesse Helms culture wars at that time and the attendant censorship that inhibited presenters and funders from supporting such work.
Zollar’s selections for “Zollar: Uncensored,” according to press materials, “speak to her early investigations into eroticism, sensuality, and the reclaiming of the broken parts of the self after trauma.” “Zollar: Uncensored” includes excerpts from “My Female Hand,” “Marinesa” and “Batty Moves,” as well as the work “Life Dance II-the Papess … mirror in the waters.”
For a video preview, go here.
To read more about the company, Zollar, the dance works and the company’s relationship with the Walker Art Center, go to this hyperessay.
Related events over the weekend include the ongoing conference, “Continuously Rich: Black Women in Cultural Production” at the University of Minnesota. Symposium highlights include a free performance at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at the Barker Center for Dance, by the students from University of Minnesota Dance Program, of “Walking with Pearl . . .Southern Diaries,” choreographed by Zollar and re-staged by Keisha Turner and Laurie Taylor, and “Dark Swan” choreographed and re-staged by Nora Chipaumire. To watch an excerpt from their rehearsal, go here.