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Urban Bush Women (UBW) burst onto the dance scene in 1984, with bold, innovative, demanding and exciting works that bring 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 Zollar’s artistic direction, Urban Bush Women performs regularly in New York City and tours nationally and internationally. The Company has been commissioned by presenters nationwide, and includes among its honors a New York Dance and Performance Award (“Bessie”); the Capezio Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance; and two 2004 Doris Duke Awards for New Work from the American Dance Festival. In March 2010, UBW toured South America as part of DanceMotion USAsm, a cultural diplomacy initiative spearheaded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Off the concert stage, Urban Bush Women has developed an extensive community engagement program called BOLD (Builders, Organizers, & Leaders through Dance). UBW’s BOLD program has a network of over 29 facilitators that travel nationally and internationally to conduct workshops that bring the histories of local communities forward through performance. UBW’s largest community engagement project is its Summer Leadership Institute (SLI), established in 1997. This 10-day intensive training program serves as the foundation for all of the company’s community engagement activities. Ultimately the SLI program connects dance professionals and community-based artists/activists in a learning experience to leverage the arts as a vehicle for civic engagement.

As an extension of UBW’s mission and core values, UBW launched the Urban Bush Women Choreographic Center January 2016. The center will support the development of women choreographers of color and other under-heard voices.

UBW continues to celebrate over 30 years of creating dancing, engaging communities and using dance to bring together audiences through innovative choreography, community engagement and artistic leadership development.

Honors Include

  • Bessie award for Outstanding Revival. Awarded in 2014 for Nora Chipaumire's Dark Swan performed by Urban Bush Women at The Joyce, for re-imagining a severe and beautiful solo into an expanded emotional force field performed by nine powerful women.
  • The U.S. Department of State. Selects UBW to inaugurate its dance cultural exchange program, DanceMotion USA, administered by BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) in 2010.
  • NEA. The National Endowment of the Arts recognizes Walking with Pearl...Southern Diaries as an American Masterpiece in 2006.
  • Doris Duke Awards. The American Dance Festival recognizes UBW with its Doris Duke Award for New Work in 2004 and in 1998.
  • Capezio. Honors UBW with an Outstanding Achievement in Dance award in 1994.
  • Bessie.  Selected to receive a New York Dance and Performance Award in 2006 and 1992.


Did You
       Know... ?

Urban Bush Women was one of three dance companies chosen to represent the U.S. in DanceMotion USASM, a program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, produced by BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) to showcase contemporary American dance abroad.

Are YOU an Urban
      Bush Woman?


To identify as an Urban Bush Woman is to use any or all of the following adjectives to describe yourself: bold, fierce, athletic, strong, honest, inquisitive, determined, artistic, hopeful.

Urban Bush Women
Create Dance. Create Community.

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