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Dance Department

2017-2018 Guest Artists

Du'Bois A'Keen

Du’Bois A’Keen lives a life of fierce dedication to the performing arts. His formal training began at 19 in his hometown of Albany, Georgia while studying at Darton State College. After receiving his Associate of Arts degree, Du’Bois followed his passion to Florida State University’s School of Dance where he received his B.F.A. in Dance and was later accepted as an M.F.A. candidate. Du’Bois studied and performed works by master teachers and choreographers such as Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Darrell Jones, Gerri Houlihan, and more. After working as UBW’s Production Assistant Intern he joined the company in December 2014.

Randy James

Randy James, founding Artistic Director of 10 Hairy Legs, has made a significant impact in the field of dance for more than three decades locally, regionally, nationally and internationally as a highly regarded dancer, choreographer, teacher, guest lecturer, panelist and staunch advocate of the arts. His impact in the field led The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation to cite him as “The Patron Saint of New Jersey dance” in 2010. As a choreographer, James has created more than 40 works on his own companies and on 16 other professional companies throughout the United States, garnering positive reviews from The New York Times and The Village Voice. The New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State honored him three times with Choreography Fellowships in 1995, 2002 and 2014 in recognition of his artistic excellence and named him "Distinguished Teaching Artist." As an Associate Professor of Dance, James has been a member of the dance faculty at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, since 1998.

Chanon Judson

Chanon Judson (Associate Artistic Director / Dancer) began her relationship with UBW in 2001. She has had the privilege of serving the company as rehearsal director, Director for UB2–Urban Bush Women’s performing apprentice ensemble, and now furthers her work with UBW as Associate Artistic Director and Co-Coordinator of BOLD (Builders Organizers and Leaders through Dance). An avid arts educator, Chanon has instructed for Ailey Arts in Education, BAM, and Earl Mosley's Institute for the Arts. Chanon was Director of Ailey Camp (Kansas City, MO), and is the Program Designer / Director of Cumbe’s Dance Drum and Imagination Camp for Children. She is also the Co-Founder of Family Arts Movement - Leading communal movement and art making explorations. www.fam-ny.com

Sarah Juli

Sara Juli has created and performed innovative solo work in New York City since 2000. Her work has been performed in numerous New York City venues including Performance Space 122, Danspace Project, Movement Research at Judson Church, Joe’s Pub as part of the Dancenow/NYC Festival, and others. Nationally, her work has been performed at the American Dance Festival, Napa Valley Opera House, Connecticut College, UC Riverside, and Reno Arts Festival. In February 2006, she created and performed her first full-evening solo show, The Money Conversation, where she gave away her life savings, in a sold-out run at Performance Space 122.

Sara was awarded the Arts Management Award from Brooklyn Arts Exchange in 2013 and is an Advisory Board member of The Field in NYC and Bates Dance Festival in Lewiston, ME where she also taught, “The Business of Dance” in summer 2015. She graduated from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY, with a degree in Dance and Anthropology. After 15 years in NYC, Sara relocated to Portland, ME in 2014, with her husband and two kids and is creating and touring new solo work in addition to building her consulting practice. Since moving to the Portland area, Sara has launched and manages a choreography lab for artists from Southern Maine who meet every three months to critique choreographic works. She will premiere a new dance, Tense Vagina: an actual diagnosis at SPACE Gallery in Portland, ME in October 2015 for which she received a New England Foundation for the Arts NEST Touring Grant.

Jody Sperling

A dancer-choreographer from New York, Jody Sperling is the founder and Artistic Director of Time Lapse Dance. She has created more than 40 works and has performed and taught in the US, Bahrain, Canada, France, India, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Nigeria, Russia, Scotland and north of the Arctic Circle.

In 2014, Sperling participated in a polar science mission to the Arctic as the first-ever choreographer-in-residence aboard a US Coast Guard icebreaker. During the expedition, she danced on the polar ice cap and made the award-winning dance film Ice Floe. Sperling also created a dance Ice Cycle expressing the fragility and dynamism of the Arctic ice-scape. http://timelapsedance.com/works/ice-cycle

Over the years, Sperling has forged a unique style inspired by modern dance pioneer Loïe Fuller (1862-1928). Internationally regarded as the leading exponent of Fuller’s genre, she has taken the idiom into innovative directions. Sperling is the choreographer, creative consultant and dance coach for the upcoming French feature film “La Danseuse” inspired by Fuller’s life.

As a dancer, Sperling has performed in the works of other choreographers including Sarah Michelson and Yvonne Rainer. Sperling has served on the Board of Directors of the Society of Dance History Scholars (SDHS) and has presented at the Society’s conferences. She holds an MA in Performance Studies (Tisch School of the Arts, New York University) and a BA in Dance and Italian (Wesleyan University). Her dance writings have appeared online and in print in Dance Magazine, The Village Voice, The SDHS Conference Proceedings, The International Encyclopedia of Dance and the award-winning book Birds of Paradise: Costume as Cinematic Spectacle (British Film Institute, 2014).  

Jawole Willa Jo Zollar

Jawole Willa Jo Zollar (Founder/Visioning Partner) From Kansas City, Missouri, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar trained with Joseph Stevenson, a student of the legendary Katherine Dunham. After earning her B.A. in dance from the University of Missouri at Kansas City, she received her M.F.A. in dance from Florida State University. In 1980 Jawole moved to New York City to study with Dianne McIntyre at Sounds in Motion.

In 1984, Jawole founded Urban Bush Women (UBW) as a performance ensemble dedicated to exploring the use of cultural expression as a catalyst for social change. In addition to 34 works for UBW, she has created works for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Philadanco, University of Maryland, Virginia Commonwealth University and others; and with collaborators including Compagnie Jant-Bi from Senegal and Nora Chipaumire. In 2006 Jawole received a New York Dance and Performance Award (Bessie) for her work as choreographer/creator of Walking With Pearl…Southern Diaries. Featured in the PBS documentary, Free to Dance, which chronicles the African-American influence on modern dance, Jawole was designated a Master of Choreography by the John F. Kennedy Performing Arts Center in 2005. Her company has toured five continents and has performed at venues including Brooklyn Academy of Music, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and The Kennedy Center. UBW was selected as one of three U.S. dance companies to inaugurate a cultural diplomacy program for the U.S. Department of State in 2010. In 2011 Jawole choreographed visible with Chipaumire, a theatrical dance piece that explores immigration and migration. In 2013, Jawole received the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award and honorary degrees from Tufts University and Rutgers University. Recently, Jawole received the 2016 Dance Magazine award and the 2016 Dance/USA Honor Award.