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Release: Jan. 3, 2003

(NOTE TO PRINT AND WEB EDITORS: Images are available for download at .)

(Photo: Urban Bush Women Shadow's Child; by Mike Van Sleen)

Urban Bush Women Collaborate With Mozambique Artists In Hancher-Commissioned “Shadow’s Child,” Jan. 24

“Shadow’s Child,” a collaboration between Urban Bush Women with the National Song and Dance Company of Mozambique, will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24 in Hancher Auditorium on the University of Iowa campus.

During a week-long UI residency -- part of the UI’s observation of Martin Luther King Jr. Week -- artistic director Jawole Willa Jo Zollar and members of the company will participate in a variety of additional events:

-- a community sing, as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Convocation at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 20, in the second floor ballroom on the Iowa Memorial Union;

-- Jan. 21 and 22 workshops at the High School Alternative Center in Iowa City and Metro High School in Cedar Rapids;

-- a matinee performance for area school groups on Hancher’s Stage Door educational series; and

-- an appearance on the “Iowa Talks” program on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910, at 10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24, live from the Java House in downtown Iowa City.

Co-commissioned by Hancher, “Shadow’s Child” was premiered in July at the Lincoln Center Festival. The production depicts the tribulations and self-discoveries of a young girl from Mozambique coping with a move to Tallahassee, Fla., where her deep black skin and foreign customs are a barrier to assimilation into the local African-American community -- she even jumps rope in an unfamiliar way. Teased by both white and black children, she seeks refuge in the woods at night-time, forming friendships with magical nocturnal creatures and another young girl who is allergic to the sun.

Karen Campbell wrote in the Boston Globe, “In the dance theater piece ‘Shadow's Child,’ about a young girl from Mozambique, vivid masks and huge headdress-style puppets with long waving limbs conjure mystical night creatures. Tales unfold through traditional African songs that segue into music summoning the heat of the blues and the energy of American pop. The sensuous, weighted dances of Mozambique rub noses with the high spirits of hip-hop and contemporary modern dance.

“It’s a heady fusion of influences, but it’s all grist for the mill of Jawole Willa Jo Zollar. For the Bessie Award-winning artistic director of Urban Bush Women, dance is a means of telling stories. She uses movement, music, text, and a vivid theatrical sense to create work in the context of African-American culture and spiritual traditions. And often, it is designed not only to entertain but to serve as a catalyst for social awareness and change.”

In response to the premiere, Anna Kisselgoff wrote in the New York Times, “Charm may be a devalued word, but it retains its most positive resonance when applied to ‘Shadow's Child,’ a joyful fable.”

Zollar established Urban Bush Women in 1984 to synthesize the African-American spiritual influences of her upbringing with dance and theater. Her work with the company has earned ongoing support from the National Endowment for the Arts and a New York Bessie Award.

Her work has been presented at venues including Spoleto USA, the Next Wave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the public television series "Alive From Off-Center." She is now also an artist-in-residence at Florida State University.

Hancher has presented Zollar’s Urban Bush Women on several occasions, including their “Praise House” and the world premiere of her “Bones and Ash,” and the Hancher Millennium Festival commissioned her “C Sharp Street -- B Flat Avenue” for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.

Peggy Scholz is the sponsor of the performance and the commission, through The University of Iowa Foundation.

Tickets to “Shadow’s Child” are $32, $30 and $27 ($26.50 and $10 for UI students; $26.50, $24 and $21.60 for senior citizens; and half price for audience members 17 and younger) from the Hancher box office.

Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Tickets may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Hancher’s website:< >.

Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail: <>.

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