SummerScape 2024 • On Sale Now!

Fisher Center presents

SCAT!

The Complex Lives of Al & Dot, Dot & Al Zollar

June 28–30

Add to Calendar2024-06-28 7:00 pm2024-06-28 7:00 pmEDTSCAT!

URBAN BUSH WOMEN

A New Dance-Driven Jazz Club Spectacular
SummerScape Commission/World Premiere

Conceived, Directed, and Choreographed by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar
Original Music Composed by Craig Harris

Photo by Rick McCullough

Fisher Center, Sosnoff Theater,
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Building upon a repertoire of bold, life-affirming dance works, Urban Bush Women celebrates its 40th anniversary with a new dance-driven jazz club spectacular that tells the story of two people making their way in Kansas City—from the Great Migration to the present.

Urban Bush Women founder Jawole Willa Jo Zollar grew up performing in floor shows in Black neighborhoods in a segregated Kansas City in the mid-20th century—an era when Black businesses were booming, and there was great hope of upward mobility post-WWII.

Performed with a live band to an original jazz score by Craig Harris, this world premiere tells the powerful journey of the Zollar family and what happens when dreams encounter the harsh realities of American life in the 1940s & 50s.

About SCAT!

Dot & Al Zollar c. 1950s, image c/o the Zollar family

“I grew up performing in floor shows in Black neighborhoods in a segregated Kansas City in the 1950s & 60s. My mother was a dancer and a jazz singer, and my father sold real estate and ran a bar called Al and Bud’s. During this era, Black businesses were booming, and there was great hope for upward mobility after World War II.

SCAT! is modeled after the structure and content of the great tradition of the Black floor show, which included comic MCs (like Moms Mabley and Pigmeat Markham), flash acts (think the Nicholas Brothers or the Crackerjacks), eccentric dancers (like Earl “Snakehips” Tucker), storytelling orators, kiddie acts, striptease/exotic dancers (à la Josephine Baker or Sahji), and the Shim Sham Shimmy—a traditional tap dance finale.”

—Jawole Willa Jo Zollar

Photo: Dot & Al Zollar c. 1950s, image c/o the Zollar family

Performers

Jawole Willa Jo Zollar

Jawole Willa Jo Zollar

Choreographer/Director/Writer/Performer; Founder, Urban Bush Women

Courtney J. Cook

Courtney J. Cook

Performer; Associate Artistic Director, Urban Bush Women

Kentoria Earle

Kentoria Earle

Performer; Company Member, Urban Bush Women

Keola Jones

Keola Jones

Performer; Company Member, Urban Bush Women

Mikalia Ware

Mikaila Ware

Performer; Company Member, Urban Bush Women

Roobi Gaskins ‘19

Roobi Gaskins ’19

Performer; Company Member, Urban Bush Women

Symara Sarai

Symara Sarai

Performer; Company Member, Urban Bush Women

Tendayi Kuumba

Tendayi Kuumba

Performer & Dance Captain

Stephanie Battle

Stephanie Battle

Performer

Photos: Jawole Willa Jo Zollar by Kyle Froman; Urban Bush Women Company Members by Hayim Heron; Craig Harris, Tendayi Kuumba, and Stephanie Battle c/o the artists

Musicians

TW Sample

T.W. Sample

Keys

Jordyn Davis

Jordyn Davis

Bass

Gary Jones III

Gary Jones III

Drums

Brianna Thomas

Brianna Thomas

Vocals

Charenee Wade

Charenee Wade

Vocals

Milton Suggs

Milton Suggs

Vocals

Photos: Jordyn Davis by Liberty Fets; Gary Jones III by Erik Bardin; Brianna Thomas by Matt Baker; Milton Suggs by Jacob Blickenstaff; T.W. Sample and Charenee Wade c/o the artists

Credits

Co-Choreographer Vincent E. Thomas
Associate Producer Cheri L. Stokes
Sound Designer Bill Toles
Costume Visionary Chanon Judson
Associate Costume Designer Lori Gassie
Lighting Designer Russell Sandifer
Projections Designer Brittany Bland
Dramaturg Talvin Wilks
Production Stage Manager Jason Kaiser
Production Assistant Shaena Smith
Movement Coach Bennalldra Williams

Executive Producer Jonathan Secor
Director of Production, Booking & Touring Michelle Coe
Tour + Company Manager Jolie Saltiel
Music Management Arts & Education Continuum, Inc. (Darrell Bridges, Project Coordinator)

Jawole Willa Jo Zollar

Jawole Willa Jo Zollar“Jawole Willa Jo Zollar has had a consistent and innovative interest in mining tradition and creating new ritual.”—The New York Times

Jawole Willa Jo Zollar began a relationship with the Fisher Center in 2020, working with director Daniel Fish on the 2020 production Most Happy in Concert. Growing up in Kansas City, Missouri, she earned her B.A. in dance from the University of Missouri at Kansas City and 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 creating over 34 works for Urban Bush Women, Zollar has created works for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Philadanco, and many universities across the United States. Her collaborations include Compagnie Jant-Bi from Senegal and Nora Chipaumire. She was the choreographer of Taylor Mac’s 24-Decade History of American Popular Music. In 2023, Zollar was commissioned by Houston Grand Opera to direct and choreograph a new Jake Heggie opera, Intelligence.

Urban Bush Women has toured five continents and 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. Zollar serves as director of the UBW Summer Leadership Institute, founding and visioning partner of Urban Bush Women, and as the Nancy Smith Fichter Professor of Dance and Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor at Florida State University. Zollar has been a United States Artists Wynn fellow and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial fellow. She holds honorary degrees from Columbia College Chicago, Tufts University, Rutgers University, and Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.

Zollar has received the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, the Dance Magazine Award, the Dance/USA Honor Award, the “Bessie” Lifetime Achievement in Dance Award for her work in the field, the Dance Teacher Award of Distinction, and the Martha Hill Dance Fund Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2020, The Ford Foundation declared Urban Bush Women one of America’s Cultural Treasures. Zollar has recently been awarded a 2021 John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellow, the 2022 APAP Honors Award of Merit for Achievement in the Performing Arts and the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize.

Recently, Zollar has been named the recipient of the American Dance Festival 2024 Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for lifetime achievement.

Photo courtesy of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Craig Harris

Craig HarrisCraig Harris exploded onto the jazz scene in 1976, bringing the entire history of the jazz trombone with him. Craig handled the total vernacular the way a skilled orator utilizes the spoken word. He has performed with a veritable Who’s Who of progressive jazz’s most important figures, and his own projects display both a unique sense of concept and a total command of the sweeping expanse of musical expression. Those two qualities have dominated Craig’s forty years of activity, bringing him beyond the confines of the jazz world into multimedia and performance art as a composer, performer, conceptualist, music curator, and artistic director.

Craig, who comes from a tradition of art as cultural facilitation to help promote change, has employed his musical voice to comment on social injustice with projects including God’s Trombones, based on James Weldon Johnson’s book of sermons; Souls Within the Veil commemorating the centennial of W.E.B. DuBois’s seminal work; TriHarlenium, a sound portrait and 30-year musical time capsule of Harlem; and Brown Butterfly, a tribute to the exquisite movements of Muhammad Ali.

Urban Bush Women

Urban Bush Women (UBW) is a groundbreaking Black women-led theatrical dance company and social activism ensemble. Founded in 1984 by visionary choreographer Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, UBW is an engine and amplifier for the stories of Black Women+. Now directed by artistic leaders Chanon Judson and Mame Diarra Speis, UBW combines radical performance, deep engagement, and ancestral knowledge from the African diaspora into a force that is urgent, forward-looking, and essential. UBW has defied expectations for 40 years. The very bodies of its founding members—Black women of various shapes and sizes—changed the landscape of who could be seen on stage as a dancer. The work placed the concerns of such women center stage. UBW embraces radical storytelling to activate social change. Whether creating genre-defying work for the stage, guiding the development of Black Women+ choreographers and producers, or organizing for justice through artmaking, UBW is an innovator, operating at the vanguard. Learn more at www.urbanbushwomen.org.

Funding

Urban Bush Women 40th-anniversary leadership funding provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies. Additional funding is provided by the Howard Gilman Foundation.

Lead commissioning support for the development and creation of SCAT! is provided by the Fisher Center at Bard and Brown Arts Institute at Brown University. Additional commissioning support is generously provided by: The Perelman Performing Arts Center, The O’Donnell-Green Music and Dance Foundation, and American Dance Festival with support from the Doris Duke/SHS Foundations Award for New Works.

SCAT! is made possible in part by The Acton Family Fund, MAP Fund (supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Mellon Foundation), National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

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