Urban Bush Women at Duke | Arts
Arts
INDY Week's arts blog

Archives | RSS | Follow on

Friday, November 13, 2009

Urban Bush Women at Duke

Posted by on Fri, Nov 13, 2009 at 12:41 PM

click to enlarge unknown.gif

The Nov. 12 performance by Urban Bush Women at Duke’s Reynolds Theater began with a lone dancer, her arms and shoulders rippling with muscles, standing under a misty spotlight as someone offstage read the names of African-American leaders and activists from Sojourner Truth to Malcolm X. It set the tone for the evening.

Though Urban Bush Women performances are ostensibly a form of modern dance, they’re more Toni Morrison than Martha Graham. The troupe’s six dancers avoid nearly any hint of classical ballet forms, focusing on athletic, dramatic stomps, slaps and chest bumps. Troupe founder and choreographer Jawole Willa Jo Zollar uses dance to give voice and movement to the African-American experience.

The four choreographed works performed at Duke were social commentary as performance, and not in a subtle way either. The opener to “Naked City,” a new work designed to represent the history of Harlem, began with the dancers, in turn, howling like animals as they sat in folding chairs. The show’s final moments, at the end of a long piece based on the diaries of African-American dancer Pearl Primus, showcased a kind of tribal dance hybrid, complete with chants from the dancers and an onstage reading of excerpts from Primus’s writings.

But the best moment, for my money, was from one of UBW’s earliest pieces, “Sisters,” which managed to tell a compelling and often hilarious story of childhood without a word spoken. Like Morrison’s writing, UBW’s performances are interpretive and sometimes inscrutable, but the focus on impressionistic, non-linear storytelling opens the door to something that is unconventional and beautiful, and couldn’t be expressed any other way.

Tags: ,

Pin It

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Arts



Twitter Activity

Comments

In the last 5 years, 11 of the 15 musicals NRACT produced were premieres in the region. I commend them …

by James Ilsley on Theater Review: Dogfight's Regional Premiere at NRACT Is Rich in Emotion But Meager in Staging (Arts)

Instead of luxury apartments(AHEM Carborro) and new restaurants, build more parking?!(Just one parking garage would help a lot, cover it …

by ammi on The Bookshop Brought Many Rare and First Editions—and Two Famous Cats—to Franklin Street for Thirty-Two Years (Arts)

Most Recent Comments

In the last 5 years, 11 of the 15 musicals NRACT produced were premieres in the region. I commend them …

by James Ilsley on Theater Review: Dogfight's Regional Premiere at NRACT Is Rich in Emotion But Meager in Staging (Arts)

Instead of luxury apartments(AHEM Carborro) and new restaurants, build more parking?!(Just one parking garage would help a lot, cover it …

by ammi on The Bookshop Brought Many Rare and First Editions—and Two Famous Cats—to Franklin Street for Thirty-Two Years (Arts)

WELCOME TO THE GREAT BROTHERHOOD.
Do you want to be a member of Illuminati as a brotherhood that will make …

by peter bello on Movie Review: A Dog's Purpose Rolls Over and Plays Dead Under Its Own Heart-Tugging Weight (Arts)

The last thing Chapel Hill needs is another damn restaurant.

by Chrysser on The Bookshop Brought Many Rare and First Editions—and Two Famous Cats—to Franklin Street for Thirty-Two Years (Arts)

Wow. I guess you can't recognize brilliant satire when you see it. This was an amazing performance that if you …

by Sam Bayer on ADF Review: Hillel Kogan's We Love Arabs Lags Behind a Cultural Conversation Already Well Underway in Our Region's Performing Arts Scene (Arts)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation