Annenberg Center Live Opens Dance Season with Urban Bush Women This Weekend

Annenberg Center Live opens its dance season with four performances from Urban Bush Women. This legendary all-female dance troupe performs this weekend, October 22-24 as part of Dance @ Annenberg Center Live and the Annenberg Center's African Roots, American Voices programming series. Tickets cost $20 - $50. Tickets are available online at or by phone at 215.898.3900. The Annenberg Center is located at 3680 Walnut Street.

Urban Bush Women use cultural expression as a catalyst for social change. The ensemble of seven women weave contemporary dance, music and text with the history, culture and spiritual traditions of the African diaspora. Bold and demanding, their works challenge long-held assumptions about women, people of color, body types and styles of movement. Urban Bush Women, celebrating their 30th Anniversary, was founded by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar who trained with Joseph Stevenson, a student of the legendary Katherine Dunham. In 1980, Zollar moved to New York City to study with Dianne McIntyre at Sounds in Motion.

The evening performances begin with 30th Anniversary Mash Up (2014), which celebrates the company's 30th anniversary by showcasing iconic moments from their body of work. This piece features excerpts from Give Your Hands To Struggle, Bitter Tongue, Shelter, Women's Resistance and Batty Moves. Next is dark swan, choreographed by Nora Chipaumire. dark swan (2014) was an "effort to respond and acknowledge contemporary dance's debt to those Russian masters and their contribution to the art of dance," said Chipaumire. This work uses music from Maria Callas, Sam Cooke and Yo Yo Ma. The evening performances conclude with HEP HEP SWEET SWEET (2014). Set in a fictional nightclub, this work is a personal portrait drawing upon the music and culture of the Great Migration, as well as Zollar's memories from that time. "I remember my mother dressing up, putting on Evening in Paris perfume and going out to places in Kansas City named the Orchid Room and the Blue Room. HEP HEP SWEET SWEET is a fictional club-a place of memory, rumor, myths and dreams," she said.

The matinee performance includes 30th Anniversary Mash Up, HEP HEP SWEET SWEET and GIVE YOUR HANDS TO STRUGGLE, excerpt Hands Singing Song (1998). Hands Singing Song is a tribute to civil rights leaders whose work contributed to a better future for all. Set to "Give Your Hands to Stuggle" by Sweet Honey in the Rock founder Bernice Johnson Reagon, the work's title is based on a speech by Adam Clayton Powell, "What's In Your Hands."