Urban Bush Women

Brooklyn-based all-woman troupe Urban Bush Women dance to illuminate the stories of the disenfranchised and overlooked through performance, study, and education.


Passionate, strong, and relevant, Urban Bush Women (UBW) is a performance ensemble founded in 1984 by choreographer Jawole Willa Jo Zollar to explore the use of cultural expression as a catalyst for social change. UBW weaves contemporary dance with music and text to illuminate the history, culture, and spiritual traditions of African Americans and the African Diaspora. Drawing strength and solidarity from each other, this all-woman troupe celebrates its African roots while expanding its horizons beyond its own perspectives. Performances by Urban Bush Women are electric and inspiring, and Zollar's insightful choreography communicates with tremendous strength and power.

Based in New York City, UBW has toured extensively throughout the United States and to Asia, Austrailia, Europe, and South America. The company has collaborated with artists from every field including jazz artist David Murray, poets Laurie Carlos and Carl Hancock Rux, directors Steve Kent and Elizabeth Herron, the National Song and Dance Company of Mozambique, and most recently, with Germaine Acogny's acclaimed Compagnie Jant-Bi from Senegal. The recipient of many awards, UBW has a repertory of 32 works.

UBW engages in extensive community-based programming, encouraging cultural activity as an inherent part of community life. Through its annual Summer Leadership Institute, the company partners with local presenters, area artists and community residents to bring the untold and under-told histories of their communities forward through performance.



Jawole Willa Jo Zollar founded UBW in 1984 after studying with dance greats Joseph Stevenson, Katherine Dunham, and Dianne McIntyre. She holds a BA in dance from the University of Missouri at Kansas City and an MFA in dance from Florida State University. In addition to 32 works for UBW, Zollar has created choreography for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ballet Arizona, Philadanco, University of Maryland, University of Florida, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, and others. She is the Nancy Smith Fichter tenured professor in the Dance Department of Florida State University and holds an honorary doctorate from Columbia College in Chicago. The recipient of many prestigious awards and much recognition, she was named a United States Artists Wynn Fellow in 2008 and is a 2009 recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship.

Posts From Urban Bush Women
  • Dance Motion USA 2010, a recap

    3 companies9 countries12 U.S. embassies & consulates16 cities21 public & student performances33 artists89 days104 exchange & education ...

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  • UBW in Brazil

    The US Consulate in São Paulo put together an excellent video about Urban Bush Women's visit to the Brazilian city. Watch it below, or on thei...

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