Urban Bush Women
Urban Bush Women (UBW) burst onto the dance scene in 1984, with bold, demanding and exciting works that brought under-told stories to life through the art and vision of its award-winning Founder, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar. The Company weaves contemporary dance, music, and text with the history, culture, and spiritual traditions of the African Diaspora under the organizational artistic direction of Zollar and Co-Artistic Directors of the Company, Chanon Judson and Samantha Speis.
Off the concert stage, UBW has developed an extensive community engagement program, BOLD (Builders, Organizers, and Leaders through Dance). UBW’s largest community engagement project is its Summer Leadership Institute (SLI). This 10-day intensive training program connects dance professionals with community-based artists/activists in a learning experience to leverage the arts as a vehicle for civic engagement.
UBW launched the Choreographic Center Initiative (CCI) in January 2016. The CCI supports the development of women choreographers of color and other underheard voices.
Jawole Willa Jo Zollar
Growing up in Kansas City, Missouri, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar earned her B.A. in dance from the University of Missouri at Kansas City and her M.F.A. in dance from Florida State University. In 1980 Jawole moved to New York City to study with Dianne McIntyre at Sounds in Motion. In 1984 Jawole founded Urban Bush Women (UBW) as a performance ensemble dedicated to exploring the use of cultural expression as a catalyst for social change.
She has created over 34 works for UBW, as well as for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and others. Her collaborations include Compagnie Jant-Bi from Senegal and Nora Chipaumire. Her company has toured five continents and was selected as one of three U.S. dance companies to inaugurate a cultural diplomacy program for the U.S. Department of State in 2010.
She is the founder of UBW Summer Leadership Institute, founding Artistic Director and Chief Visioning Partner of UBW and currently holds the position of the Nancy Smith Fichter Professor of Dance and Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor at Florida State University. Jawole received a 2008 United States Artists Wynn fellowship and a 2009 fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial. Jawole received he Doris Duke Performing Artist Award and honorary degrees from Columbia College, Chicago, Tufts University, Rutgers University, and the Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. Jawole received the Dance Magazine Award in 2015 and the Dance/USA Honor Award in 2016. Recently, Jawole received the 2017 Bessie Lifetime Achievement in Dance Award for her work in the field.