Urban Bush Women Comes To IGNITE @ THE FORD, August 30

Urban Bush Women Comes To IGNITE @ THE FORD, August 30

Ford Theatres presents Urban Bush Women: Hair & Other Stories for one performance only, Friday August 30 at 8:00pm at the Ford Theatres.

Choreographed by Urban Bush Women Artistic Directors Chanon Judson-Johnson and Samantha Speis, in collaboration with the company, Hair & Other Stories, a radical reimagining of an earlier work (HairStories, 2001, originally conceived by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, UBW Founder and Chief Visioning Partner, and Elizabeth Herron), is an experience that blends dance-theatre with conversations that challenge existing American values and celebrate our choices around "who we be" and "how we do."

Hair & Other Stories explores disquieting perceptions of beauty, identity and race, and what constitutes the freedom to rise to our Extra-ordinary Selves in extraordinary times. This is the urgent dialogue of the 21st Century.

Crafted from personal narratives from our communities, kitchens and living rooms, social media and YouTube, Hair & Other Stories creatively examines structural racism in our society, and celebrates the persevering narrative of the African Diaspora in America.

Featuring new music compositions by The Illustrious Blacks (Manchildblack and Monstah Black) with stage direction by Raelle Myrick-Hodges, dramaturgy by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, costume design by DeeDee Gomes, projection design by Nicholas Hussong, lighting design by Xavier Pierce, and sound design by Everett Asis Saunders. The Company: Chanon Judson, Courtney J. Cook, Du'Bois A'Keen, Samantha Speis, Stephanie Mas and Tendayi Kuumba (* on leave), , with guest performers Marjani Forté-Saunders and Kesha McKey

"We are honored to be able to bring Urban Bush Women back to the Ford Theatres in celebration of their 35th Anniversary," said Ford Theatres Executive Director Olga Garay-English. "A piece such as Hair & Other Stories has the ability to make a deep and lasting impact on those who experience it. This meaningful work fits perfectly with the Ford's vision of creating an avenue for the exchange of ideas between artists and a vibrant engaged community."

Lisa Traiger in DC Metro Theatre Arts said that Hair & Other Stories is "part church revival, part dance party, part therapeutic reckoning, part history lesson. Think of Hair & Other Stories as a permanent haircut or dye job for your intellect and soul."

Andrea Perez in Michigan Daily said Hair & Other Stories is "Emotionally captivating" and Carmel Morgan in Critical Dance was "drawn to the vibrant performers ... I enjoyed the heart and humor."

Founded in 1984 by choreographer Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Urban Bush Women (UBW) seeks to bring the untold and under told histories and stories of disenfranchised people to light through dance. They 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. As UBW celebrates its 35th Anniversary year, they continue to use dance as both the message and the medium to bring together diverse audiences through innovative choreography, community collaboration and artistic leadership development.

UBW's 35th year brings exciting new changes: Chanon Judson-Johnson and Samantha Speis are the new co-artistic directors. In this capacity, they will lead the company's touring arm while maintaining their roles as performers and directors of the UBW BOLD (Builders, Organizers and Leaders through Dance) program. UBW Founder, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, will continue in her role as chief visioning partner, providing overall direction for the organization and its programs including the Summer Leadership Institute and the Choreographic Center Initiative.

With the groundbreaking performance ensemble at its core, ongoing initiatives like the Summer Leadership Institute (SLI), BOLD and the Choreographic Center Initiative, UBW continues to affect the overall ecology of the arts by promoting artistic legacies; projecting the voices of the under heard and people of color; bringing attention to and addressing issues of equity in the dance field and throughout the United States; and by providing platforms and serving as a conduit for culturally and socially relevant experimental art makers.

Elizabeth Zimmer in the Village Voice said, "Urban Bush Women have interpreted the black experience with passion and focus for thirty years."

Choreographer Liz Lerman said of UBW founder Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, "Using collective and personal narratives with dancing that's both fierce and intimate, she's influenced generations of artists. She's made a refuge in the form of a company, a network and an institute for choreographers of color, and has raised her voice for all women in the field."

Founder and Chief Visioning Partner Jawole Willa Jo Zollar in her own words:

"I don't know, but I been told, if you keep on dancin' you never grow old.

When I began Urban Bush Women in 1984, 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 more than 30 years ago. UBW has grown to be that and more. We have inspired many and left an indelible mark on the dance field. We have changed perceptions about body types and approaches to performance in both form and content. Driven by our passion for dance, we have shown how choreographers can address
socio-political issues in their work and involve whole communities in art making. The company I envisioned in the '80s can only exist as a community of engaged people committed to the connections we can forge through creating dance and creating community."

This event is part of IGNITE @ the FORD!, a series comprised of world-renowned contemporary artists whose work is thought provoking and reflects the world in which we live. Proceeds from IGNITE @ the FORD! events benefit the Ford Theatre Foundation. Tickets are available online at FordTheatres.org and by phone (323) 461-3673. Ford Theatres is located at 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, Hollywood, CA 90068.

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