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Dancing on the Rail: Body Politics

Photograph from Urban Bush Women’s 20th Anniversary. Photograph of Neta Pulvermacher.

Bill T. Jones is insistent that he not be labeled an African American choreographer. Conversely, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, with her company Urban Bush Women, creates work out of her experience as an African American woman. Both are performing works this month that complicate dominant ideals and ask larger questions about the politics of both the body and the mind.

Donna Uchizono Company, June 9–12. Donna Uchizono’s latest work, Approaching Green, is all in pink. There is a connection here between the colors. According to the promotional materials, if the human eye is exposed to a lot of pink when in natural light, a person will see green. But the real crux of this work lies in its focus on aging.

June 9–12, Thurs.–Sun., 8:30 pm. Tickets: $15. Danspace Project St. Mark’s,
131 East 10th Street (at Second Avenue)
Tel: 212-674-8194,

Bill T. Jones, June 16–18. It’s no secret that Jones’s works deal with complicated political, social, and cultural issues. Jones’s latest project takes him to Aaron Davis Hall in Harlem, where he will be for a two-week artist residency. Here he’ll work with audiences in open rehearsals and discussions while creating Blind Date. Like several of Jones’s works, Blind Date is multidisciplinary, using movement, theater, and text. For this work, the short story “Patriotism,” by Yukio Mishima, will be explored, and Jones will use text and dance to ask larger questions about the nature of patriotism. Leave it to Jones to use dance to question larger cultural issues that cannot always be addressed through words alone.

June 16–18, 7:30 pm. Tickets: $35, $30, $25. Aaron Davis Hall, City College of New York, between West 133rd and 135th Streets on Convent Avenue.
Convent Avenue is one block east of Amsterdam Avenue.

Urban Bush Women, June 21–26. Brooklyn-based Urban Bush Women, dedicated to dance that mines African American ancestry, body politics, and feminism, celebrates its 20th-anniversary season with a spring season at the Joyce Theater, which promises to look back, take stock of the present, and move forward. Works include artistic director Jawole Willa Jo Zollar’s 1986 Girlfriends, an examination and celebration of female friendships, and the 1995 Batty Moves, which questions dominant ideals of beauty with its focus on the buttocks (in the Caribbean, “batty” means buttocks). Zollar was influenced by Pearl Primus, a trail-blazing African American dancer, choreographer, and activist and the subject of Zollar’s new work, Walking With Pearl–Africa Diaries, a New York premiere. UBW has a commitment to community and to nurturing new choreographers like Bridget L. Moore, whose Sacred Vessel is also part of the program.

June 21–26, Tues. 7:30, Wed.–Sat., 8:00, Sun., 7:30. Tickets: $36. Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue at 19th Street

Eiko & Koma, June 23–26. Eiko and Koma, known for meditative, site-specific works, will bring Death Poem (2004) to Danspace Project for the City/Dans series. The husband-and-wife team derives their movement vocabulary and style from Japanese Noh plays; stillness and slowness are a constant presence. In Death Poem, fine netting is draped over a bed as Koma writhes and moves. Eiko stands as a ghostly, hovering figure in the background.

June 23–26, 8:30 pm. Tickets: $15. Danspace Project St. Mark’s
131 East 10th Street (at Second Avenue)
Tel: 212-674-8194


Vanessa Manko

VANESSA MANKO was the former Dance Editor for the Brooklyn Rail.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUN 2005

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