Urban Bush Women

Urban Bush Women

Tripple Three Artists

The fast movements fit nicely with the drumsticks bouncing back and forth on the black surface of the stage. The drummer is watching the solo dancer as intensely as the audience. The big smile on her face betrays her fascination with the dance and joy of making art together.

This is only one of many thrilling scenes observable last Friday at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts. “Existing for 40 years, 2024 is really a pivotal moment for us”, voices Chanon Judson creative director of Urban Bush Women during a panel discussion with SIE Center director Marie Berry and Aisha Ahmad-Post, Newman Center Director with the topic “Storytelling, Women’s Leadership, & Social Change Through Dance”. While watching the performance, I am reminded several times of her words during the event. For instance, during “Give your hands to struggle” in which the solo artist captivates the audience by moving her body to a reading of the names of several human rights activists. The audience reacts to the dancer’s motions as well as to the names, constantly snapping, clapping and shouting encouraging “yes” in the direction of the stage. But, this is only one small part of the whole performance, which includes other pieces, such as “Women’s Resistance” and “Haint Blu (Proscenium). Together, they form the program “Legacy + Lineage + Liberation” centering around justice and equity. Their stories brought on stage challenge the audience to take new views and look at topics from a perspective that is highly underrepresented in the public debates.

Urban Bush Women

The night’s performance starts with a solo drummer, creating intriguing rhythms while still being solo on the floor. In the dark, the first dancer steps on stage. As a silhouette, she glides in synchronization with the beat of the drums, seamlessly merging with its rhythm. The drums inform the movements and vice versa. The audience applauds and cheers loudly when the spotlight finally turns on and reveals the dancer.

After her, a whole group of five enters the stage. In the section “I Don’t Know but I Been Told, If You Keep on Dancin’ You Never Grow Old” the audience laughs inspired by the lines as well as the moves, which really do not leave any doubts of becoming old when continuing dancing. Chorus and individual voices take turns in a similarly fluid way as the dancers switch between iconic solo performances and synchronous group dances. Especially energetic are the rapid dashes in diagonal directions across the stage, each combining distinct running and dancing techniques.

After intermission, the set design has changed. I find myself in an imagined house underwater, including illuminated door- and window frames, which are sophisticatedly used to highlight individual artists when dancing and speaking. The whole group is constantly on stage and reacts to the live music. In addition to the drums, I now also hear guitar and a live singer on stage, creating a tense atmosphere with her words and melodies.

Even beyond their performances, Urban Bush Women are highly active. Within their ongoing programs including the Summer Leadership Institute (SLI), BOLD (Builders, Organizers & Leaders through Dance) and the Choreographic Center Initiative they have an impressive impact in the field. While in Denver, in addition to performing and taking part in the aforementioned discussion, they also toured local schools, helping youth to find and express their identities through Performing Arts.

The sticks bounce slower, the dancer’s movements come to a hold. The transition into the next scene, in which pairs of women perform children’s clapping games, is organic, and the audience gets soaked into the tension created by the storytelling on stage for the rest of the performance.


Lilith Diringer is a young graduate student in the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies Public Policy Program, and in parallel enrolled in the Jazz program with a vocal focus at the Lamont School of Music. With a diverse background in performing arts, Lilith has been on stage since childhood, displaying her versatility as a musician, theatrical performer, and on-screen actor. She has participated in dance theatre performances directed by notable figures such as Olek Konrad Witt and choreographers like Olimpia Scardi, exploring various dance forms, including hip-hop, modern, jazz, and rock’n’roll acrobatics. Additionally, she enjoys pushing the boundaries of dance, intertwining it with other disciplines, such as circus arts, combining dance and partner acrobatics, and exploring aerial dance. Beyond her performances, Lilith’s academic research focuses on the role of Performing Arts in international diplomacy and Development and Peace projects for at-risk youth globally. Her work delves into the storytelling elements in performances and addresses sustainability both on and behind the stage. Since 2014, she has also worked as a journalist for many newspapers and online magazines, including covering the Paralympics in Tokyo and Beijing for the biggest newspaper in Berlin, Germany – the tagesspiegel. Lilith Diringer stands at the intersection of academia and artistry, bringing a unique blend of passion, versatility, and a commitment to positive change through Performing Arts which she loves to comment on in her articles.