Urban Bush Women to tell ‘Hair & Other Stories’

February 15, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Urban Bush Women, a dance-theater company that gives expression to the vitality and boldness of African-American women, will perform “Hair & Other Stories” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14, in Eisenhower Auditorium. The multidisciplinary work addresses race, gender identity and economic inequality in the lives of women of color.

Choreographed by Chanon Judson and Samantha Speis, in collaboration with other members of the company, “Hair & Other Stories” is a “high-energy, politically adept, physically demanding metaphor for race, gender and other intersectional issues in our country,” observed a reporter for WFPL radio in Louisville, Kentucky.

“The Urban Bush Women are committed, triple-threat performers who dance, sing and act with a sometimes searing sense of truthfulness,” wrote a critic for The New York Times.

Since 1984, choreographer and artistic director Jawole Willa Jo Zollar’s troupe has made an indelible mark with bold, innovative and demanding works that challenge assumptions about women, people of color, body types, movement styles, society and history. The company weaves contemporary dance, music and text with the history, culture and spiritual traditions of African Americans and the African diaspora.

“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,” wrote a curator for the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans.

“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,” a reviewer for Oregon ArtsWatch wrote about the show.

For more information, visit Center for the Performing Arts online or call 814-863-0255.

Artistic Viewpoints, an informal moderated discussion featuring a visiting artist or artists, is offered one hour before the performance and is free for ticket holders. Artistic Viewpoints regularly fills to capacity, so seating is available on a first-arrival basis.

After the show, artists will engage in conversation with audience members.

Free engagement events

Urban Bush Women artists will be in residence for several days before the performance. Three engagement events — Hair Party, Community Sing and Dance for Every Body — will take place Monday-Wednesday, March 11-13, at downtown State College locations. Each event is free, but attendance is limited and reservations are required. For details and to make reservations, visit Community Engagement events.

A woman stands on top of a box in front of a screen with words on it while she gestures with her arms.

Urban Bush Women will return to Penn State with “Hair & Other Stories.” The program is a multidisciplinary work addressing matters of race, gender identity and economic inequality in the lives of women of color.

IMAGE: Morgan & Owens/Morgan Owens Photo


This engagement of Urban Bush Women is made possible through the ArtsCONNECT program of Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation with support from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Passionate Supporters of Dance sponsor the Eisenhower presentation.

This presentation is part of the Center for the Performing Arts Diversity and Inclusion Collaborative. Penn State’s Equal Opportunity Planning Committee provides lead funding for the collaborative. Sandra Zaremba and Richard Brown provide support.

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(Media Contacts)

Last Updated February 15, 2019