Exciting Urban Bush Women Brings Powerful Work Set to Jazz Greats John Coltrane and Charlie Parker



When: Thursday – Saturday, April 9-11, 2015, 8 pm
Where: Newmark Theater, SW Broadway & Main, Portland
Tickets: Starting at $25, available at whitebird.org and Portland’5 Box Office
1111 SW Broadway (formerly PCPA) NO added fees.
1-800-380-3516 (added fees apply).
Discounts available for groups/students and seniors.
Sponsors: Mair and Hugh Lewis
Media Sponsor: Willamette Week
Info: www.whitebird.org

“They sparkled, strutted and stamped as though trying to put out a fire – only they ignited one.” –
Herald Sun (Durham, NC)
White Bird’s 2014/15 Uncaged Season will culminate with the return of the award-winning Brooklyn-based contemporary dance company, Urban Bush Women April 9-11 at the Newmark Theatre. Last appearing with White Bird in 2008, founder Jawole Willa Jo Zollar and the company bring energy, vitality and boldness to the stage. Celebrating their 30th anniversary season, Urban Bush Women was founded by Zollar in 1984 as the first major all-female African American dance company. Through movement and text, Urban Bush Women bring undertold stories to life of the history, culture, and spiritual traditions of the African Diaspora with tremendous energy and passion in order to promote social change and forge communities.

The 7-member company will perform three powerful works with their characteristic fearless presence and bold unabashed movement. Hep Hep Sweet Sweet (2013) takes place in a fictional night club and is inspired by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar’s family’s migration from Texas to Kansas City at a time when jazz music was flourishing, The musical score of Hep Hep Sweet Sweet is as exhilarating as the movement, set to jazz artists Charlie Parker, Count Basie and Dinah Washington. The dancers are sparkling and energetic, sassy and fierce with feet blazing trails all across the floor. As the work evolves, the lively feeling dissipates and a more harrowing depiction of racism and hardship appears. Zollar states, “It’s about all of the expectations you have and the hopes and dreams, and the reality of what you experience – racism.”

The next piece is Give your Hands to Struggle. This solo section from the 1988 signature work Hands Singing Song is a tribute to civil rights leaders who dedicated themselves to a better future, giving others the courage and strength to be leaders themselves. This heart-felt emotional piece features a solo dancer who moves through the memories of the past, and finds hope in the dedication and examples of African-American leaders.

Concluding the program is Walking with ‘Trane, inspired by John Coltrane’s 1964 A Love Supreme, choreographed by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar and company member Samantha Speis and first performed in 2014. The music will be played live by Grammy award-winning composer/pianist George Caldwell. The work pays homage to Coltrane’s most famous album as the dancers move with an ethereal lightness and graceful reverence.

Jawole Willa Jo Zollar began her dance education with Joseph Stevenson, former student of Katherine Dunham. She had early training in Afro-Cuban and other native dance forms which helped to form her choreographic style. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Dance from the University of Missouri at Kansas City and her MFA from Florida State University. In 1980 she moved to New York City to study dance with Dianne McIntyre at Sounds in Motion. Four years later she founded Urban Bush Women in 1984. Her work has earned numerous awards and honors. She received the 2008 United States Artists Wynn fellowship, a 2009 fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial and the 2013 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. In addition to 34 works for UBW, she has created works for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ballet Arizona, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company and others. She currently resides as an Artist in Residence at Florida State University. Her dedication to cultural studies and change through dance has been awarded with the Martin Luther King Distinguished Service Award and also an honorary doctorate from Columbia University. Through Urban Bush Women, she has developed an extensive community engagement program called BOLD (Builders, Organizers, & Leaders through Dance). UBW’s largest community engagement project is its Summer Leadership Institute (SLI), established in 1997. This 10-day intensive training program serves as the foundation for all of the company’s community engagement activities. Ultimately the SLI program connects dance professionals and community-based artists/activist in a learning experience to leverage the arts as a vehicle for civic engagement.

White Bird’s presentation of Urban Bush Women is supported by the Fred W. Fields Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation, Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), and the National Endowment for the Arts. “Walking with ‘Trane” was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts. White Bird Uncaged 2014-15 is made possible by support from Ronni Lacroute/WillaKenzie Estate and the National Endowment for the Arts. White Bird’s 2014-15 season is supported by the Regional Arts & Culture Council, James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust, The Collins Foundation, Fred W. Fields Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation, Work for Art, Oregon Arts Commission, The Autzen Foundation, Trust Management Services, The Jaffe Foundation, The Boeing Company and Multnomah County Cultural Coalition

Exciting Urban Bush Women Brings Powerful Work Set to Jazz Greats John Coltrane and Charlie Parker