Friday, July 27, 2012

Urban Bush Women Summer Leadership Institute Concludes This Weekend With Festival of Performance

Urban Bush Women have returned to New Orleans for another of their legendary Summer Leadership Institutes. This summer's theme is centered around the question, "Why are people poor?" You can catch some of their work this Saturday at a series of performances they are hosting. Below are the details, from a local press release:

Internationally renowned dance company Urban Bush Women (UBW) have returned to New Orleans for the fourth summer to host its long-running, nationally acclaimed Summer Leadership Institute (SLI) from July 20-29 at Tulane University. The SLI is a 10-day intensive training workshop bringing together artists and community leaders from all over the city, state, country - and even the world - to learn about UBW’s unique approach to utilizing the arts for civic engagement and social change. Participants from New Orleans and Louisiana are given priority and scholarships are offered. The SLI is co-directed by New Orleans arts professionals.

This year’s theme, “Why Are People Poor? Demystifying the Opportunity Gap in America,” will explore and lift-up the causes and effects of the wealth and opportunity gap in America and culminate in a final site-specific festival entitled “Wealth: Reclaiming and Reframing, A Festival of Art, Place and Ideas” on Saturday, July 28, throughout the city. According to UBW Founding Artistic Director, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, “Poverty matters!”  In discussing why she selected the theme of poverty for the 2012 SLI, Zollar said “issues around our country’s growing wealth gap, especially the racial wealth gap, are an ongoing concern for me born out of my own family’s circumstance and the implications the wealth gap has for our local communities and our nation. The lack of discourse in our local and national political conversations is alarming. This subject is close to us all, rich, middle class, working class or poor.”

The SLI participant schedule will includes teach-ins on poverty, daily UBW dance technique classes and a guided artistic process to create the final performances. Participants will also experience “undoing racism training” facilitated by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, an internationally acclaimed pioneer in the field, which Zollar credits with deepening the company’s awareness regarding poverty and its intersection with race and racism. For the second year, Liz Lerman, internationally acclaimed choreographer and MacArthur Fellow, will join the SLI faculty.
Lerman and Zollar, are co-creating a related artistic work around issues of economic equality.

For the first time, UBW will present a special pre-institute workshop on Thursday, July 19th entitled “LGBQTA 101”.  Through the workshop, participants will become more familiar with basic Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer & Ally history and culture and learn tools they can use in their community and cultural practices.

Wealth: Reclaiming and Reframing, A Festival of Art Place and Ideas
Saturday, July 28th from 9:30 to 6:30

Performance 1
Time: 9:30am -11:30am
Location: Christian Unity Baptist Church, 1700 Conti St. (Treme)

Performance 2 & Community Sing
Time: 12:30pm -4:00pm
Location: Ashe Cultural Arts Center, 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd (Central City)

Performance 3
Time: 5:00pm - 6:30pm
Location: Tekrema Center for Art & Culture, 5640 Burgundy St. (Lower Ninth Ward)

Admission to the festival is free! UBW’s 2012 SLI is supported by the Surdna Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Tulane University’s Gulf South Center.

More information:

Urban Bush Women

Urban Bush Women’s mission is to create dance and to create community.

Founded in 1984 by choreographer Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Urban Bush Women (UBW) seeks to bring the untold and under-told histories and stories of disenfranchised people to light through dance. We do this from a woman-centered perspective and as members of the African Diaspora community in order to create a more equitable balance of power in the dance world and beyond. We do this by facilitating the use of art as a means of addressing issues of social justice and encouraging civic engagement. Based in Brooklyn, we aspire to ensure continuity by strengthening and expanding our international community via ongoing professional education, development of new audiences, nurturing young talent and presenting bold, life-affirming dance works in a variety of settings including at our annual Summer Leadership Institute.

New Orleans Leadership & Partners

Since coming to New Orleans in 2009, Urban Bush Women has extended almost 60 scholarships to New Orleans participants. The SLI is lead locally by Team NOLA, a local body of artists and SLI alumni, who co-create and co-plan the SLI in collaboration with UBW. 2nd Line Consulting and Moving Stories Inc, New Orleans-based arts-consulting firms, led by Stephanie McKee and Takema Robinson-Bradberry, also SLI alumni, facilitate Team NOLA’s local planning efforts and goals which include connecting SLI to the greater New Orleans’ arts and social justice community. UBW’s New Orleans partners include Tulane University and People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. Other local area partners include the Institute for Women’s Ethnic Studies (IWES), Ashe Cultural Arts Center, Tekrema Center for Arts and Culture, Christian Unity Baptist Church, Golden Feather Mardi Gras Indian Restaurant, Junebug Productions, Kumbuka African Drum and Dance Collective and Mondo Bizarro.

Background on the Summer Leadership Institute

Urban Bush Women’s SLI grew out of the company’s earliest community engagement work, which took place in New Orleans from 1990-1992. The SLI began at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida, in 1997 and was moved to UBW’s home of Brooklyn, New York, in 2004. For the past three years, the SLI has been based in New Orleans to help support and strengthen the efforts New Orleans artists, organizers and stakeholders are making to sustain the cultural and artistic assets of this unique city. Zollar explains, “New Orleans is such a creative and personal inspiration that it was important to me to return to support the community, particularly the community of artists, as this city was the place of Urban Bush Women’s first community engagement project sponsored by Junebug and the Contemporary Arts Center. Here we made the leap from one-way outreach to an effective community engagement strategy. We want to be a part of the renewal process and hope our Summer Leadership Institute training can make a positive difference.”

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