Urban Bush Women Company Members
Chanon Judson (Associate Artistic Director / Dancer) is a cum laude graduate from University at Buffalo. She began her relationship with the critically acclaimed Urban Bush Women in 2001. Chanon has had the privilege of serving the company in a number of capacities including company member, rehearsal director, BOLD facilitator, and Director for UB2 –Urban Bush Women’s performing apprentice ensemble. Chanon now deepens her work with the company as Senior Artistic Associate. Chanon was a member of Cotton Club Parade and the Tony Award-winning musical Fela! Her commercial credits include Victoria Secrets Live, L’Oreal Live, the Jimmy Fallon Show, and the Michael Jackson 30th Anniversary Concert. Chanon is effectively engaged in arts education. She was a faculty member at the Urban Assembly of Music and Arts High School, instructing dance/ composition, and designing arts integrated curriculum. Chanon was Site Director for Ailey Camp Kansas City, MO and a teaching artist with Alvin Ailey Arts in Education, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Co., and Earl Mosley’s Institute of the Arts. Additionally, Chanon is the proud founder of Preschool Rock! - providing quality movement and art programming for the Brooklyn community.
Samantha Speis (Associate Artistic Director / Dancer) is a movement artist based in New York. She has worked with Gesel Mason, The Dance Exchange, Deborah Hay (as part of the Sweet Day curated by Ralph Lemon at the MoMA), Marjani Forte, Pearson/Widrig Dance Theater. She was the 2012 recipient of the Alvin Ailey New Directions Choreography Lab, and had seven weeks to teach and explore process with Ailey students. Her work has been featured at the Kennedy Center (Millennium Stage), Long Island University, Joyce SoHo, Hollins University, Danspace Project, Dixon Place, Dance Place, and The Kelly Strayhorn Theater. Speis’ solo, The Way it Was, and Now, was commissioned by the Jerome Foundation to be performed at Danspace Project for the Parallels Platform Series, and was later invited to the Kaay Fecc Dance Festival in Dakar, Senegal. Speis has been a guest artist and taught workshops throughout the United States, South America, Senegal, and Europe. Projects Samantha has recently worked on include Liz Lerman’s Healing Wars. In December 2015, Speis and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar collaborated and choreographed, Walking with ‘Trane which made its New York premiere at BAM Next Wave. This is Samantha’s seventh season with UBW.
Du’Bois A’Keen (Dancer) lives a life of fierce dedication to the performing arts. His formal training began at 19 in his hometown of Albany, Georgia while studying at Darton State College. After receiving his Associate of Arts degree, Du’Bois followed his passion to Florida State University’s School of Dance where he received his B.F.A. in Dance and was later accepted as an M.F.A. candidate. Du’Bois studied and performed works by master teachers and choreographers such as Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Darrell Jones, Gerri Houlihan, and more. After working as UBW’s Production Assistant Intern he joined the company in December 2014.
Amanda Castro (Dancer) is a New Haven native, is a graduate of California Institute of the Arts where she studied under Glen Eddy of Nederlands Dans Theatre and Andre Tyson from Ailey Company. As a mutli-disciplined dancer rooted in rhythm and soul in tap; Amanda is also a choreographer, judge, and teacher nationally and internationally including performances in London, Germany, and South Africa. She choreographed the 2014 National Teen Opening Number for the American Dance Awards in Boston, and recently set choreography in Canada.
Courtney J. Cook (Dancer) is a Virginia Native now residing in Brooklyn, NY. She began her formal dance training at the Virginia Governor’s School for the Arts. She later attended and graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, receiving her B.F.A in Dance and Choreography. In addition to being a company member with Urban Bush Women, she also performs in projects, working with astounding choreographers and artists of the community such as Christian Von Howard, Jennifer Archibald, Brotherhood Dance, and The Indigo Artists Collective.
Tendayi Kuumba (Dancer) is a graduate of North Atlanta High School of Performing Arts and Spelman College. Her training ranges from Buffalo Inner City Ballet, Ballethnic, Callanwolde Fine Arts, and Moving in the Spirit. Currently, Tendayi is a company member of Urban Bush Women, ASE Dance Theater Collective, and Axam Dance Theater Experience. Past works include Liberata Dance Theater, Marjani Forte of LOVE/FORTE Collective, T Lang Dance, and Nathan Trice/Rituals Performance Project StrangeLove. Tendayi performs regularly as a resident Jazz vocalist at the Williamsburg Music Center with the Gerry Eastman Quartet.
Stephanie Mas (Dancer) grew up in Miami, Florida and began her movement training at a young age. She later moved to Tallahassee, Florida to study with Florida State University’s Dance Department. She had the pleasure of working with FSU’s esteemed faculty for a few memorable years and then moved to New York City following graduation. Upon arriving in New York she really dove in, created, and collaborated with many different artists, such as Paloma McGregor, Millicent Johnnie, BODYART, Megan Bascom, Megan Kendzior, Kate Weare, and Kirstin Kapustik. She joined Urban Bush Women in June, 2013.