chapter  Chapter 5
9 Pages

Tactile and vocal communities in Urban Bush Women’s Shelter and Praise House

WithAnita Gonzalez

For a black dance company such as the Urban Bush Women, the physical and emotional bonds enacted on-stage replicate somewhat the physical and emotional traumas that emerge from a historically troubled past. Political implications of the Urban Bush Women’s work surface from the company’s depiction of humor, yearning, joy, grief, anger and frustration characteristic of African American womanhood. The Urban Bush Women dance Shelter, in particular, reflects the artistic director’s desire to create, through collective ensemble movement, a shared history of fortitude in times of trauma. The high point of the dance is an attack sequence in which the dancers run furiously backwards and forward in a diagonal line throwing their fearful anger towards an imaginary foe. Communication between the world of the living and the spiritual world is presumed in religious texts and accomplished in African-American Christian practice through congregational gathering that center around the words of a preacher.