The center

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THE UBW CHOREOGRAPHIC CENTER INITIATIVE (CCI) IS A TEN-TO-FIFTEEN YEAR INVESTMENT IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF WOMEN OF COLOR CHOREOGRAPHERS, WHOSE VOICES ARE NOT AS PROMINENT IN THE NATIONAL ARTS ECOLOGY AS THEY SHOULD BE.

The UBW CCI is an extension of the UBW mission and is rooted in UBW core values.  It takes a two-pronged approach – supporting the individual choreographer and bringing about systemic change in the field of dance.

UBW has identified several areas where the organization is best equipped to intervene over the next 10-15 years to improve the working conditions of women choreographers of color which include:

  • Peer and mentor based reflection and learning communities

  • Research and development residencies to advance the creation of new work

  • Advocacy and influence to enhance exposure and connection to the field

  • Contextual support

  • Curriculum development for experimental choreography rooted in identity, culture and issue/social justice based origins

  • Platforms for dialogue, reflection and presentation

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THE UBW CCI IS NOT A PHYSICAL SPACE BUT IS ACTIVATED THROUGH STRATEGIC ALLIANCES WITH INDIVIDUALS AND INSTITUTIONS ACROSS THE U.S.

UBW’s use of the term “Center” is a philosophical construct that disrupts 20th century notions of how groups organize themselves for the purpose of a common goal. Our use of Center is placing UBW at the center point as the initiator, gatherer and root system of a rigorous way to support female choreographers of color and push the field by privileging the building of nationwide partnerships and relationships over brick and mortar space.

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“Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to be strong and vulnerable and a force to be reckoned with!”

—Asja Parrish Being Bushified! Participant

 
 

About the center

 

The UBW CCI uses targeted methods designed to provide the most needed support to choreographers as it is needed.

The focus of the CCI is to provide direct support to artists at three distinct stages of their careers and to engage institutional partners to lay the foundation for future support for these artists and the vision of the CCI.

Through the CCI programming, UBW will provide choreographers with opportunities for funding, training, convening, networking, mentoring, critical reflection and collaboration.

 

Choreographic fellows

The UBW Choreographic Fellowship Program, a single component of the UBW CCI, is structured over two years and includes a 9-month planning process with Fellowship Candidates, followed by a full year of Fellowship activity.

The 2017-2018 Fellows are:

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Amara Tabor-Smith

Francesca Harper

Marguerite Hemmings

Marjani Forté-Saunders

Paloma McGregor

The 2018-2019 Fellows Are:

Maria Bauman 

Hope Boykin


Ananya Chatterjea


Stephanie McKee


Ni’Ja Whitson  


The Choreographic Fellowship Program will support the development of work dealing with complex narratives addressing race, history, cultural identity, ethnicity and pressing social issues. The program includes direct financial support, one or more residencies, mentorship, writing and reflection. Participating choreographers have made a commitment to placing one’s choreographic process as the highest priority examining questions of craft, clarity of vision and execution of ideas in a rigorous and granular way through a dramaturgical and research process.

Read the Fellows’ reflections on their work HERE.

 

classes & workshops

Generative Dancer

This three-day intensive will focus on developing a solo practice and discovering improvisational practices that lead participants to uncover their unique approach to their art-making. The Generative Dancer is designed to be a full day experience for intermediate/advanced choreographers and performers who want to deepen their practice through participation in an immersive learning environment.

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Dream / Research / Move / Create / Build / Delve Deeper / Repeat: UBW Generative Dancer Choreographic & Performance Lab

Date: July 5 - July 7, 2018 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Location: Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet | 29 Jay Street | Brooklyn, NY 11201

Register HERE

This 3-day workshop will be taught by New York Dance and Performance (Bessie) 2017 Lifetime Achievement in Dance Award recipient and UBW Founder/Visioning Partner, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar.

We welcome participants at any level of their practice to journey through UBW’s creative choreographic lab. We will work from 10:00 am - 5:00 pm daily at the Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet in Brooklyn, NY.

The participants will engage in a process-based approach to UBW’s art-making. The process-based investigations are informed by who is in the room and involves iterative cycles of rigorous embodied research informed by radical Black experimentation in the fields of culture, politics, identity and history. 

Our desire is to use a large palette of our learning that includes westernized practices and approaches while holding at the center the glory of defining ourselves. Jawole's friend James Frazier calls this “The Radical Act of Being” -- without apology, worrying about the comfort, acceptance or understanding of people who may have “othered” us. 

Each day will be structured with:

  • Warm up/class

  • Structured improvisation/investigation/solo practice - how we “research” our physicality through prompts and ideas

  • Research - Each participant is asked to bring in ideas they are researching or interested in developing.  They will use their iPhones, tablets or computers to explore further how to deepen the research and move it into “embodiment”

  • Structural Concepts/Finding Form - we will explore different structural approaches to choreographic development

Testimonial:

"This past week working with Jawole Zollar and Urban Bush Women has been a truly incredible experience. After spending the past year researching Urban Bush Women and related artists for my thesis, this intensive has encouraged me to put academic theories of resistance into practice. This past week I have gained a deeper and embodied articulation of radical Black movement and creation. I am deeply thankful to UBW for teaching me about Black modern dance history and for inspiring me to push my limits as an artist. Thank you Urban Bush Women!"

Rachel, 2017

 
 
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voices from the bush (blog)

Marjani Forté-Saunders’ Unicorns and the Act of Becoming

January 18, 2018

2017 UBW Choreographic Fellowship Candidate, Co-Founder of LOVE|FORTÉ A COLLECTIVE and Co-Director of Alkebulon Cultural CenterMarjani Fortè-Saunders offers insight into the intentions and influences behind the performance installation "Memoirs of a ... Unicorn: The Act of Becoming" and how the project is evolving. This article was developed for UBW's five-part series of articles offering insight into this remarkable co-hort of choreographers shaping the world of dance today. 

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