Spring 2017 Project: Urban Bush Women


Yale Dance Theater Spring 2017: Urban Bush Women


The critically acclaimed dance company Urban Bush Women (UBW) will be the focus of Yale Dance Theater’s spring 2017 project. Celebrating its 33rd Anniversary year, Urban Bush Women uses dance as both the message and the medium to bring together diverse audiences through innovative choreography, community collaboration and artistic leadership development. Founded by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar in 1984, UBW “seeks to bring the untold and under-told histories and stories of disenfranchised people to light through dance.” Working with UBW-affiliated artists, YDT dancers will learn UBW’s unique methods of using dance as a means for social engagement, centering on seminal work from the company’s repertory.


Rehearsals will begin Saturday January 21st and run Wednesdays 5:30 – 8:30 pm and Saturdays 12:30 – 3:30 pm (with the exception of spring break), through the tech rehearsal on April 11th and final showing on April 12th.


Cosponsored by Theater Studies/Dance Studies Curriculum, Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration, Afro-American Cultural Center, African American Studies, and Alliance for Dance at Yale with support from the Arts Discretionary Fund in Yale College.


About the Artists

Urban Bush Women galvanizes artists, activists, audiences and communities through performances, artist development, education, and community engagement. With the ground-breaking performance ensemble at its core, ongoing initiatives like the Summer Leadership Institute (SLI), BOLD (Builders, Organizers & Leaders through Dance) and the developing Choreographic Center, UBW continues to affect the overall ecology of the arts by promoting artistic legacies; projecting the voices of the under-heard and people of color; bringing attention to and addressing issues of equity in the dance field and throughout the United States; and by providing platforms and serving as a conduit for culturally and socially relevant experimental art makers.


About Yale Dance Theater

Yale Dance Theater is a faculty-sponsored extracurricular dance initiative that applies a research agenda to the licensing of existing choreography and/or commissioning of new work. YDT creates a structure for our most talented students to interact with dance artists of the highest caliber over a longer period of time than afforded by one master class. YDT emphasizes this endeavor as an extension of the practice-based movement research methods honed in the dance studies courses. In the spirit of arts advocacy and outreach to the Yale and New Haven communities, we share our work publicly at the end of the semester in a final lecture demonstration. The dancers post their written reflections throughout the process on an online blog and we aim eventually to publish YDT writing online and in print. Faculty director: Emily Coates; Coordinators: Naomi Roselaar ’17, Holly Taylor ’17, Brittany Stollar ’17.



The Company:

Eva Albalghiti (DC ’17) is a senior in Davenport majoring in Environmental Engineering. She grew up in the DC area and received several years of ballet training before coming to Yale. This is her fourth year dancing with Yale Dance Theater, and she is very grateful for this extraordinary opportunity to expand her understanding of what dance can do. She is also a proud member of A Different Drum Dance Company.
Joana Andoh (SM ’17) hails from Crete, IL and studies Biochemistry and Classics. She started ballet at the age of three and has since then sampled a variety of styles. At Yale she has danced with Groove Dance Company, Steppin’ Out, and Rhythmic Blue. This is her first experience with YDT and she is excited to explore styles of the African diaspora with Urban Bush Women!
Liam Appelson (SM ‘19) is a sophomore in Silliman College majoring in Physics. He grew up in the Catskill Mountains in New York where he trained in Horton and ballet. At Yale, he is a member of Yaledancers as well as Yale Dance Theater. This is his second year dancing with YDT.
Cathleen Calderón (ES ‘17) comes from the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, where she dances with Danza Mexica Cuauhtémoc, a Mexica dance group. She is majoring in Ethnicity Race, and Migration, and serves as a peer liaison for Yale’s Latinx Cultural Center. After taking a dance course with the legendary Alvin Ailey dancer, Renee Robinson, last semester, Cathy is thrilled about learning from Urban Bush Women and growing with YDT members.
Sabine Decatur (TC ‘18) is a junior from Oberlin, OH majoring in African-American Studies. She started ballet lessons at the tender age of 3 and has been dancing ever since. At Yale, Sabine is involved with Yaledancers, the Dramat, Heritage Theater Ensemble, and is co-president of Taps. She is beyond excited to work with Urban Bush Women in YDT this semester.
Elayna Garner (TD ‘20) is a freshman from Grand Rapids, MI. A new member to YDT, Elayna is no stranger to the dance world. A tapper since the tender age of five, she danced competitively at Kathy’s Dance Company for ten years and later went on to teach. Elayna also studied ballet at Grand Rapids Ballet Company and has had the privilege of learning a variety of styles, including hip-hop, musical theatre, and jazz. Thrilled to take part in the upcoming project with Urban Bush Women, Elayna can’t wait to expand her dance repertoire while learning to target social issues through one of her greatest passions.
Mary Chandler Gwin (SY ‘18) is a junior in Saybrook majoring in Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry. She began training in ballet but has primarily studied modern. On campus, Mary Chandler is President of A Different Drum Dance Company. She is excited to participate in her third project with YDT this spring!
Jason Morris (TD ‘17) is a senior in Timothy Dwight College studying Psychology with a concentration in neuroscience. Outside of the classroom and the laboratory, he has worked on several dance projects. While he has primarily don’t hip hop and jazz pieces to date, he is excited to broaden his horizons with the Urban Bush Women, and learn more about creating narratives and storytelling though movement.
Mariel Pettee (GRD Physics) is a PhD candidate in Physics at Yale researching experimental high-energy particle physics at the Large Hadron Collider. As a choreographer and performer, she also uses theatre and dance work to investigate the intersection of art and science. AB, Harvard; MA, University of Cambridge.

Naomi Roselaar (coordinator, TD ’17) grew up in Appleton, Wisconsin where she danced with the Makaroff Youth Ballet. On campus Naomi dances with A Different Drum Dance Company and studies Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. She volunteers for the Hypertension Awareness and Prevention Program at Yale (HAPPY), and works at the Yale Stem Cell Center. This is her fourth project with Yale Dance Theater and third year as student coordinator and editor of the YDT Journal.

Brittany Stollar (coordinator, MC ’17, YSPH ’18) is an Anthropology major from New York City. A life-long lover of dance, she is very happy to have found in Yale Dance Theater a place to explore different techniques and movement styles. On campus, Brittany is a Morse Freshman Counselor and a Yale Global Health Scholar, and she is involved with the Racial and Ethnic Openness Club and the Heritage Theater Ensemble. This is her third year with YDT, and her first as a student coordinator.
Holly Taylor (coordinator, DC ’17) is an American Studies major with a concentration in performance culture. She began her training with JUMP! Dance company, focusing on choreography and site-specific performance, in her hometown of Providence, Rhode Island. On campus, Holly is the Artistic Director for A Different Drum Dance Company, a student-run modern dance group. This is her fourth project with Yale Dance Theater, and her third year as student coordinator. She is thrilled to be a part of YDT again this spring.
Constance Thurmond (ES ‘19) Was born and raised in Miami, FL, where she danced Latin ballroom with Dance Town Dance Company for several years before transitioning to being a  full -time cross country and track & field athlete while in high school. She resumed dancing at her community college, where she studied ballet under Delma Iles and proceeded to become an apprentice with her modern dance company, Momentum. While in college, she also trained with Coconut Grove Ballet, where she learned tap and grew in ballet, jazz  and Modern. Since transferring to Yale, Constance has joined Sabrosura, the Latin Dance team, Yale Ballet Company, and now YDT, where she looks forward to continued growth and exploration under the guidance of both the Urban Bush Women and her peers!
Kathleen Voigt (JE ‘19) is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards from Miami, Florida. She is studying Art and History of Art. Kathleen is a member of A Different Drum and a student guide at the YCBA.  She is excited to be exploring different styles of dance through YDT.