Urban Bush Women



Since Urban Bush Women (UBW) burst onto the dance scene in 1984, the company has made an indelible mark on the field with bold, innovative, demanding and exciting works that challenge long-held assumptions about women, people of color, body types, styles of movement, society, history and appropriate content for the stage. The company weaves contemporary dance, music, and text with the history, culture, and spiritual traditions of African-Americans and the African Diaspora, exploring the transformation of struggle and suffering into the bittersweet joy of survival.

Jawole Willa Jo Zollar founded Urban Bush Women in 1984 after moving to New York City to study with Dianne McIntyre. Zollar is a 2008 United States Artist Wynn Fellow and recently-appointed Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. She was born and raised in Kansas City, MO, and trained with Joseph Stevenson, a student of the legendary Katherine Dunham. Zollar received a B.A. in dance from the University of Missouri at Kansas City and an M.F.A. in dance from Florida State University.

Under Zollar’s artistic direction, UBW performs annually in New York City and has toured throughout the United States and in Asia, Australia, Europe, and South America. The Company has been commissioned by presenters nationwide, and includes among its honors a 1992 New York Dance and Performance Award (“Bessie”); the 1994 Capezio Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance; and 1998 and 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.

Read more



“Urban Bush Women premiered their Coltrane inspired work last week at Brooklyn Academy of Music…This piece very well may be the most important work of BAM’s Next Wave Festival Season.”

Brooklyn Magazine 

“. . . the Urban Bush Women are committed, triple-threat performers who dance, sing and act with a sometimes searing sense of truthfulness.”

The New York Times

“Music and movements communicate the blues and triumph over it.”

Durham Herald-Sun

“They shimmied, shimmered, sparkled, strutted and stamped as though trying to put out a fire. Only, they ignited one.”

Durham Herald-Sun

“Zollar’s Urban Bush Women possess a gorgeous movement quality, soft yet grounded, as if they are moving through clear, still water. ”

The Washington Post

“Crossing Continents to Explore Identity and History!”

The New York Times

“The piece (Walking with ‘Trane, Chapter 2) shows off the strength and intelligence of the company…a love letter to and elegy for Coltrane, the piece features wonderful wing-like dancing as well as some smart partnering. A persistent, tidal back-and-forth brought it all together.”

Indy Week