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CAC welcomes New York-based dance company

22nd January 2018   ·   0 Comments

Photo courtesy of Urban Bush Women

Photo courtesy of Urban Bush Women

By Jade Myers
Contributing Writer

New York-based dance company Urban Bush Women have returned to New Orleans, celebrating nearly 30 years of collaboration with the Contemporary Arts Center and Junebug Productions. The dance company will kick of the premiere of their production “Hair & Other Stories” on January 24 at the Contemporary Arts Center.

In preparation for the performances, Junebug Productions hosted a series of community events from January 16-20.

The New Orleans arrival of the production is part of a 13-city U.S. tour that mixed performing arts with community engagement workshops, performances, community events and social events.

Urban Bush Women is a New York-based non-profit dance company that was founded in 1984 by dancer and choreographer Jawole Willa Jo Zollar.

Some performances of Urban Bush Women tend to focus on social justice. The performances of this event will explore the perceptions that society has of African Americans in terms of race, body image, gender identity and everyday struggles.

“Urban Bush Women and Junebug Productions are two organizations whose mission is about serving those who have historically been disenfranchised, which are African American people,” said Stephanie McKee-Anderson, the executive artistic director of Junebug Productions.

“We live in a time that is constantly shifting and changing, and people are in spaces where it’s no longer just the African-American community being marginalized, but other Brown people are being marginalized too,” McKee-Anderson said.

The importance of having stories and performances depicting the day to day life and struggles of African Americans, McKee-Anderson explained, was to encourage more organizations to get involved. When people attend this event, McKee-Anderson said she hopes they will see themselves in some of the stories and are able to connect with the performances in ways that will help them gain a better understanding of the complexities of the world.

“For me, when I go to see work, I want to leave feeling as though my story was highlighted,” McKee-Anderson explained.

In the world of dance, roughly 77.3 percent of dancers and choreographers are white, making them the most common race or ethnicity in the occupation, according to Data USA. Under 10 percent of working dancers are Black. The organizers said that is why they felt the two-week event is important for the community, because it supports choreographers and dancers of color.

The first week of events featured dance master classes taught by company members, a choreographic lab led by Zollar, along with other choreographers and informal community dinners with local partners. Additional events during week two, when the production premieres, will include a post-performance reception, a post-show afterparty and a discussion with the full company about their creative process in making Urban Bush Women’s “Hair & Other Stories.”

The January 24-27 performances have a 7:30 p.m. start time (with the January 26 performance featuring an afterparty from 9 p.m. to midnight); the January 28 performance has a 3 p.m. start time. All performances take place at the Contemporary Arts Center (900 Camp Street). For more information about the production or to purchase tickets, visit

This article originally published in the January 22, 2018 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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