Dance Center to Present Urban Bush Women in 30th Anniversary Celebration

The Dance Center of Columbia College is participating in Urban Bush Women’s 30th anniversary celebration, presenting the company in a return engagement of new and popular works March 19–21, 2015 at The Dance Center, 1306 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago.  

Jowale Willa Jo Zollar, the company’s artistic director, will bring the most recent installment of her suite of dances Walking with ’Trane, based on the music and legacy of jazz pioneer John Coltrane. Chapter 2 is inspired by the making of and the music from Coltrane’s 1965 album A Love Supreme, set to an original, reimagined score composed and performed live by Grammy Award-winning pianist George Caldwell. Caldwell will also accompany Zollar’s Hep Hep Sweet Sweet, a personal memoir of her upbringing in Kansas City, set in a fictional nightclub and drawing upon the music and culture of the African-American migration from south to north up the Mississippi. Also on the program will be guest choreographer Nora Chipaumire’s dark swan, an interrogation of how we present and represent African female bodies.  

In 2014, The Dance Center was the sole Chicago recipient of a 2014 Exploration grant, through the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s Building Demand for the Arts program, to work with Zollar to find ways to connect with jazz audiences and artists; Columbia College Chicago dance, music and theatre students and faculty; and students and artists in other disciplines to cultivate new demand for contemporary dance and jazz music through explorations of their intersections. Zollar and several UBW dancers have spent several weeks in Chicago to explore these connections prior to the March residency.  

Urban Bush Women (UBW), founded in 1984 under the direction of choreographer Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, brings the untold and under-told histories and stories of disenfranchised people to light through dance. With a woman-centered perspective, and as members of the African Diaspora community, UBW seeks to create a more equitable balance of power in the dance world and beyond.  

A post-performance conversation with the artists will take place Thursday, March 19, and a pre-performance talk with Zollar will take place Saturday, March 21 at 7 p.m., both free to ticket holders. Company dancers will participate in The Dance Center's free DanceMakers series, which features contemporary dance artists offering insight into their choreographic process, Monday, March 16, 6:30–8:30 p.m. at the American Rhythm Center, Fine Arts Building, 410 S. Michigan Avenue, 3rd floor, Chicago. Preregistration is required to participate.  

For more information about the upcoming performance and residency activities, call 312-369-8330 or visit

Chicago dance company Urban Bush Women (photo courtesy of The Dance Center of Columbia College)