By Leanna Bremond
Summer 2016. It was during this transformative time – two months after graduating college with a degree in World Arts & Cultures / Dance from UCLA - that I had the opportunity to experience one of the most influential and inspiring shows of my life, the West Coast premiere of Walking with ‘Trane by Urban Bush Women (UBW). As a dancer and woman of color, watching UBW take up space and beam pure light from the Ford Theatres stage left me mesmerized and ignited my love for jazz music and Afro-diasporic movement in one mind-blowing evening.
Growing up, I’d listened to John Coltrane through the speakers of my dad’s Taurus but witnessing UBW dancing to Coltrane in an outdoor concert setting changed my relationship to his music. After that magical experience, I immediately said to myself “I need to work here, with artists like that in spaces like this one.” About a year and a half later, because of that incredible night, I was fortunate enough to step into the role of program coordinator at the Ford, where I’ve since had many more inspirational moments with a number of outstanding dance companies.
On Friday, August 30, Urban Bush Women will return to the Ford Theatres with Hair & Other Stories, a multidisciplinary experience blending dance-theatre with conversations that challenge American values and celebrate our choices around “who we be” and “how we do.” A night of dance that shouldn’t be missed, Hair & Other Stories is a full circle moment for me.
Crafted from personal narratives that came out of kitchen and living room conversations between the company and their community, Hair & Other Stories explores perceptions of beauty, identity, and race, and how we rise beyond our ordinary selves in these extraordinary times.
UBW’s choreographic work is powerful and poignant; it manifests in people’s lives through conversation and action. I’m happy to say their work has manifested in my life as a passion for presenting dance with an emphasis on social justice. Their work provoked me to critically analyze my identity and tap into my own power; I hope this new work encourages others to tap into theirs as well.
Urban Bush Women: Hair & Other Stories takes place on Friday, August 30. Tickets and info here.