Mission: To bring the un- and under-told histories and stories of disenfranchised people to light through dance and create a more equitable balance of power in the dance world and beyond.
About the organization: Founded in 1984 by choreographer Jawole Willa Jo Zollar as a performance ensemble dedicated to exploring the use of cultural expression as a catalyst for social change, Urban Bush Women works to galvanize artists, activists, and communities and bring together diverse audiences through innovative choreography, performances, community collaboration, education, and artistic leadership development.
Current programs: With planning for its 2021-22 season, "Legacy + Lineage + Liberation," under way, UBW's current works include the Artist Journal, a virtual (Zoom) event that combines, in an open rehearsal setting, moments of informal performance, audience interaction and conversation, and a dance party; Haint Blu, an ensemble dance-theater work steeped in memory and magic; and Hair & Other Stories, personal narratives drawn from communities and social media that interrogates perceived American "values" and celebrates the persevering narrative of the African diaspora.
The organization's ongoing programs include the Summer Leadership Institute, an annual ten-day intensive learning experience aimed at building a global network of community arts practitioners and "frontline social justice workers" using the arts as a vehicle for social activism and civic engagement; BOLD (Builders, Organizers & Leaders through Dance), which facilitates workshops designed to generate dialogue within a variety of organizations and contexts, from dance studio to board retreat; and the Choreographic Center Initiative, which supports the development of women-of-color choreographers through targeted programming such as convenings, workshops, and fellowships.
Website: Visitors to the Urban Bush Women site can learn more about founder Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, browse the ensemble's current works and performances, and check out a calendar for upcoming virtual events and workshops. Visiotrs to the site can also keep up with the latest news or learn more about supporting the organization.
Funding: Urban Bush Women is funded by individual donors, foundations, and government agencies.