Urban Bush Women (UBW), based in Brooklyn, New York, was founded in 1984 by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar and has been presented extensively in New York City and has toured throughout the United States and to Asia, Australia, Europe and South America.
UBW was selected by the U.S. State Department as one of three U.S. dance companies to inaugurate its DanceMotion USA cultural exchange program and returned to South America in March 2010 for this program. Festival appearances include Jacob’s Pillow, Spoleto USA, National Black Arts Festival, Dance Umbrella UK and Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival.
UBW has been commissioned by major presenters nationwide, and counts among its honors a 2004 Doris Duke Award for New Work from the American Dance Festival and a New York Dance and Performance Award ("Bessie") in 1992. The company’s repertory consists of 33 works choreographed by Jawolle Willa Jo Zollar including ambitious collaborations with jazz artist David Murray; poets Laurie Carlos and Carl Hancock Rux; directors Steve Kent and Elizabeth Herron; and the National Song and Dance Company of Mozambique (supported by The Ford Foundation’s Africa Exchange Program).
In 2008 the company toured to 23 U.S. cities including New York City (the prestigious BAM Next Wave Festival), and to Canada and Germany with Les écailles de la mémoire (The Scales of Memory), an evening-length work created in collaboration with Germaine Acogny and her all-male Compagnie JANT-BI of Senegal.
UBW also uses art to create community. Each summer UBW produces and hosts its Summer Leadership Institute, an intensive training program in dance and community engagement for artists with leadership potential interested in building community, addressing issues of social justice and developing a community focus in their art-making. In 2009 the institute was relocated to New Orleans where UBW seeks to contribute to the city's re-building effort in partnership with local artists and activists including The People’s Institute for Survival & Beyond.