Dance Center Closes 14/15 Season with Urban Bush Women

Now in its 30th season, Urban Bush Women (UBW) is stopping at the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago this weekend on the tail end of a 10-city national tour. The engagement includes two new works from Artistic Director Jawole Willa Jo Zollar and guest choreographer Nora Chipaumire. Chipaumire’s dark swan explores how African female bodies are represented. dark swan gets to the heart of UBW’s multi-tiered mission to bring the stories and experiences of African American women to the forefront through performance and workshop initiatives under the title BOLD: Builders, Organizers, & Leaders through Dance.

Zoller's Hep Hep Sweet Sweet | photo by Rick McCullough
Zoller’s Hep Hep Sweet Sweet | photo by Rick McCullough

Zollar’s long standing commitment to this mission has resulted in nearly 40 dances and collaborations with notable members of the dance community such as Chipaumire, Camille A. Brown, and Liz Lerman. Zollar’s latest work is Hep Hep Sweet Sweet, a personal account reflecting on her upbringing in Kansas City and the migration of African American culture from south to north along the Mississippi River.

UBW presents older favorites from the company’s history alongside dark swan and Hep Hep Sweet Sweet, in addition to a number of talks and community initiatives during their visit to Chicago.

Urban Bush Women celebrates 30 years with a return to The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago (1306 S. Michigan Ave.) March 19-21 at 8:00 p.m. Single tickets are $30, available at 312-369-8330 or online at The Dance Center is ADA accessible to people with disabilities.

Community engagement initiatives with UBW include a post-performance conversation March 19,and a pre-performance talk with Zollar March 21 at 7 p.m., both free to ticket holders. Company dancers will participate in The Dance Center’s FREE DanceMakers series,  Monday, March 16, 7–8:30 p.m. at the American Rhythm Center, Fine ArtsBuilding (410 S. Michigan Avenue, 3rd floor).

Author: Lauren Warnecke

Lauren Warnecke is a freelance dance critic, contributing to the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Magazine. She is senior editor of See Chicago Dance. Lauren covers dance across the Midwest and writes regularly for Dance Magazine and Pointe with additional bylines in Milwaukee Magazine, St. Louis Magazine and Dance Teacher. Forthcoming publications include essays on ballet training in Chicago (University of Illinois Press) and Shirley Mordine (University of Akron Press). In 2020, Lauren published an opinion piece on the impact of COVID-19 on the arts in the South African journal Agenda. Lauren holds degrees in dance and kinesiology and has presented research on dance training practices at the National Dance Education Organization and the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science. She has co-facilitated critical dance writing intensives in Chicago and Durban, South Africa, and participated in writing residencies at the National Center for Choreography, Bates Dance Festival and JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience. Lauren teaches dance history and kinesiology for dancers, with part-time appointments at Loyola University Chicago and Illinois Wesleyan University.