Urban Bush Women
Hair & Other Stories
Since 1984, choreographer and artistic director Jawole Willa Jo Zollar’s Urban Bush Women has given expression to the vitality and boldness of African-American women. Hair & Other Stories is a multidisciplinary work addressing matters of race, gender identity, and economic inequality in the lives of women of color.
The dance-theatre company has made an indelible mark with bold, innovative, demanding, and exciting works that challenge assumptions about women, people of color, body types, movement styles, society, and history. It weaves contemporary dance, music, and text with the history, culture, and spiritual traditions of African Americans and the African diaspora.
“The Urban Bush Women are committed, triple-threat performers who dance, sing, and act with a sometimes searing sense of truthfulness,” writes a critic for The New York Times.
Hair & Other Stories, choreographed by Chanon Judson and Samantha Speis in collaboration with other members of the company, is a “high-energy, politically adept, physically demanding metaphor for race, gender, and other intersectional issues in our country,” observes a reporter for WFPL radio in Louisville, Kentucky.
“Alternating between movement and dance, spoken word, projections, and audience participation allows this incredibly talented troupe to engage different dimensions of the conversation with carefully measured combinations of abstraction and direct narrative,” writes a reviewer for Oregon ArtsWatch.
“While Hair & Other Stories is provocative and pushes the audience a bit out of their comfort zones, the cast—all hugely talented as dancers, singers, and actors—treats the material very carefully and works with the audience to get them fully engaged and invested,” writes a curator at the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans.
After the show, artists will engage in conversation with audience members.
This presentation is part of the Center for the Performing Arts Diversity and Inclusion Collaborative, which seeks to: immerse an array of people in the performing arts; educate the community about cultures and art forms different from the familiar; influence thinking so we become a community that embraces diversity and promotes inclusion; ensure the activities of the collaborative have a sustainable impact on the community. Funds from across Penn State and throughout the community support the initiative. The University’s Equal Opportunity Planning Committee provides lead funding. Sandra Zaremba and Richard Brown provide support.