Nine groups to bring Urban Bush Women Dance Co to Berkshires for a 3-week residency

Today the Pittsfield Office of Cultural Development announced a collaborative Berkshire County Residency with the Urban Bush Women, a Brooklyn-based, internationally acclaimed dance company. The dance troupe is renowned for heart-stopping performances, brilliant choreography and for creating a genuine sense of community with its audience.

Partners in this project include: Berkshire Children and Families; Berkshire Music School; the City of Pittsfield; the Flying Cloud Institute; Jacob’s Pillow Dance; Lift Ev’ry Voice; Mass MoCA; the Olga Dunn School of Dance and Pittsfield Public Schools.

The Urban Bush Women Dance Company’s performances put a spotlight on the untold and often under-told histories and stories of disenfranchised people. Their visit is sure to be dynamic, also offering an opportunity for local young women to be a part of this experience.

“I could not be more thrilled and delighted than to have my new colleagues, the fierce folks that are Urban Bush Women, come up to my old stomping grounds, the Berkshires,” states Jonathan Secor, Urban Bush Women Producing Partner.

Secor is the former director of the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC). He says that the company is particularly excited about working with a dedicated group of young women in Pittsfield, where Urban Bush Women will be based for the week.

The collaborative residency begins with a week of workshops for 15-18 year old girls with the Urban Bush Women Dance Company. During the Core Teen Group workshops, the girls will have an opportunity for self-exploration through dance, and learn history from the African-American perspective.

“This is such an amazing opportunity for young women in Pittsfield to be able to work side by side and learn from world renowned dancers from the Urban Bush Women Dance Company,” says Shirley Edgerton, the chairperson of the Urban Bush Women Pittsfield Residency subcommittee. “There are several opportunities for people of all ages to be exposed to dance throughout the week; from workshops to demonstrations and lectures, there is something for everyone.”

Lift Ev’ry Voice will be offering three community-based workshops with the Urban Bush Women. These multi-disciplinary movement workshops are free and open to teens and adults. Participants are welcome to register for any or all workshops including a fourth workshop scheduled to take place at Jacob’s Pillow. Participants of all experiences and abilities are welcome. Registration is on a first come basis. Go to http://liftevryvoice.org/ubw/ for more information and to register online.

In collaboration with its community partners, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival will host a range of free onsite engagement events, talks, demonstrations, classes, and performances throughout the Urban Bush Women Berkshire County residency in nearby Becket, MA.

“Urban Bush Women is at the forefront of creating work and programs that intertwine performance, community, and social activism,” says Jacob’s Pillow Managing Director Andrea Sholler.

“Jacob’s Pillow is excited to have the opportunity to work with this culturally and artistically significant dance company alongside our many partners to bring this important work to the Berkshire community and beyond.”

The residency will culminate with The School at Jacob’s Pillow’s Improv Traditions and Innovations: From Ring Shout to Blues to Jazz Program, led by Urban Bush Women founder and Artistic Director Jawole Willa Jo Zollar alongside other members of the company. This project is made possible with generous funding The Ford Foundation.

For more information regarding the Pillow’s involvement, please click here.

The Crowne Plaza will host a How We Got to the Funk Dance Party on Saturday, June 25 at 7pm that is free and open to the public. How We Got to the Funk will be led by Urban Bush Women’s founder-director Jawole Willa Jo Zollar. It is an evening of fun, dance and examining history through the lens of African American social dances from 1955 through the present. No experience needed. Come ready to boogie!

Events like this require some very special sponsors and they are: Berkshire Bank Foundation; the City of Pittsfield Human Rights Commission; the Crowne Plaza; First Church on Park Square; NAACP; Rights of Power and Empowerment (R.O.P.E); SABIC and Zonta.

There are still some spots open for the Core Teen Group week long workshop for 15-18 year old girls. Please contact Shirley Edgerton, sedgerton@pittsfield.net, if you would like to nominate someone to be considered for participation in this program. Participants must be motivated and be able to fully commit to the dates of the program. If you would like to contribute to the Core Teen Group, also contact Shirley Edgerton.

About Urban Bush Women

Urban Bush Women (UBW) burst onto the dance scene in 1984, with bold, innovative, demanding and exciting works that bring under-told stories to life through the art and vision of its award-winning founder Jawole Willa Jo Zollar. The company weaves contemporary dance, music, and text with the history, culture, and spiritual traditions of the African Diaspora.

Under Zollar’s artistic direction, Urban Bush Women performs regularly in New York City and tours nationally and internationally. The Company has been commissioned by presenters nationwide, and includes among its honors a New York Dance and Performance Award (“Bessie”); the Capezio Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance; and two 2004 Doris Duke Awards for New Work from the American Dance Festival. In March 2010, UBW toured South America as part of DanceMotion USAsm, a cultural diplomacy initiative spearheaded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

The full schedule of the Urban Bush Women Berkshire Residency

Mon 6/20
Urban Bush Women (UBW) arrive in Pittsfield

Tue 6/21
10:30am-12pm
Engagement with Core Teen Group @ Berkshire Music School

2:30pm-4pm
Lift Ev’ry Voice Workshop @ Mass MoCA
Community-based workshop with the Urban Bush Women. This multi-disciplinary movement workshop is free and open to teens and adults.
Register Online [free]

7pm
Community Dinner with UBW @ Lichtenstein Center
(open to participants and donors)

Wed 6/22
10:30am-12pm
Engagement with Core Teen Group @ Berkshire Music School

2:30pm-4pm
Lift Ev’ry Voice Workshop @ Mass MoCA
Community-based workshop with the Urban Bush Women. This multi-disciplinary movement workshop is free and open to teens and adults.
Register Online [free]

Thu 6/23
10:30am-12pm
Engagement with Core Teen Group @ Berkshire Music School

10:30am-12pm
Lift Ev’ry Voice Workshop @ Olga Dunn Dance Studio, Great Barrington
Community-based workshop with the Urban Bush Women. This multi-disciplinary movement workshop is free and open to teens and adults.
Register Online [free]

6pm
Lecture and Demonstration @ First Church
Free and open to the public.

Fri 6/24
3pm-5pm
Lift Ev’ry Voice and Core Teen Group Tour of Jacob’s Pillow Dance and Archives @ Jacob’s Pillow
Free and Open to the Public.
Meet at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Welcome Center. Call 413-243-9919 for more info. https://www.jacobspillow.org/

6:15pm
Inside/Out @ Jacob’s Pillow
Urban Bush Women
Free and open to the public. https://www.jacobspillow.org/

Sat 6/25
4pm
Finding Our Community @ Jacob’s Pillow Dance Blake’s Barn
A moderated talk by Urban Bush Women’s founder-director Jawole Willa Jo Zolla and Jennifer Bleil-Calienes, founding director of MANCC, and director of NEFA’s NDP.
Register Online [free]

7pm
How We Got to the Funk Dance Party @ Crowne Plaza, Pittsfield
Free and open to the public

Mon 6/27
11am-12:30pm

Urban Bush Women Dance for Every Body @ Jacob’s Pillow
This free, all-levels workshop will focus on the use of breath, weight, call and response, and polyrhythms; no prior dance experience is needed.
This workshop is free and open to teens and adults. To register, call 413.243.9919 x161 https://www.jacobspillow.org/

11am-12:30pm
Engagement with Core Teen Group @ Jacob’s Pillow
A second movement workshop will also take place exclusively for the Pittsfield Core Teen Group, running concurrently with the public class. The Pillow will provide round trip transportation to members of the Pittsfield Core Teen Group. The experience will culminate with a picnic lunch with the Core Teen Group, Life Ev’ry Voice participants, and Urban Bush Women artists. Participants must be ages 16+.

6/27-7/10
Improv Traditions & Innovations: From Ring Shout to Blues to Jazz with UBW @ Jacob’s Pillow
Observe classes daily at The School at Jacob’s Pillow. Schedule at https://www.jacobspillow.org/.

7/2 & 7/9
6:15pm
Inside/Out @ Jacob’s Pillow
Inside/Out: Improv Traditions and Innovations: From Ring Shout to Blues to Jazz Program of The School at Jacob’s Pillow
Dancers from The School at Jacob’s Pillow Improv Traditions and Innovations: From Ring Shout to Blues to Jazz Program present a variety of dances under the direction of Program Director Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Artist Faculty Lizzy Cooper Davis, Chanon Judson, Nia Love, Stephanie McKee, Samantha Speis, and Music Director George Caldwell.

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