Contemporary Dance Company Urban Bush Women Celebrates 40 Years with Powerful “Legacy + Lineage + Liberation”

Yes! Weekly
The Triad’s Alternative Voice Since 2005

Award-winning Brooklyn-based troupe weaves dance and music with the history and culture of the African Diaspora, Friday, Feb. 16 at 7:30pm at the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts.

BOONE, NC — The Schaefer Center Presents series, presented by Appalachian State University’s Office of Arts and Cultural Programs, welcomes contemporary dance company Urban Bush Women, celebrating their 40th anniversary in Legacy + Lineage + Liberation, Friday, Feb. 16 at 7:30pm at the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts. UBW’s Legacy + Lineage + Liberation celebrates the power of Women(+) in an evening of classic works that transcend genres and amplify the voices of Women(+) of color. These iconic works portray multiple dimensions of life that resonate in this time of reflection around equity and justice, and lift up Black lives in inspiring ways.

  • I Don’t Know, but I Been Told, If You Keep on Dancin’ You Never Grow Old is an energetic mash-up of different dance forms that came out of Black neighborhoods and features a live drummer;
  • Give Your Hands to Struggle lyrically honors leaders from the Civil Rights era;
  • Women’s Resistance fuses power and grace in a call to collective action around truths that bind us all;
  • Haint Blu (Proscenium) is a dance-theater work seeped in memory and magic using performance as a center and source of healing, taking us through movement into stillness and rest.

With live music by Grace Galu Kalambay (vocals, guitar) and Lucianna Padmore (percussion), audiences are treated to UBW’s excellent sense of musicality, encouraged to reflect on empathy and joy, and ultimately left feeling energized and inspired.

“…triple-threat performers who dance, sing and act with a sometimes searing sense of truthfulness.” —The New York Times

Tickets are $28, $23 (residents of Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties and App State faculty/staff), and $10 (students/children). A special student BOGO offer is available. Buy One Get One! Enter BOGOSTU at checkout.

About Urban Bush Women
Urban Bush Women (UBW) burst onto the dance scene in 1984, with bold, innovative, demanding and exciting works that brought under-told stories to life under the artistic direction of Co-Artistic Directors of the UBW Company, Chanon Judson and Mame Diarra Speis. Originally founded by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, the company continues to weave contemporary dance, music, and text with the history, culture, and spiritual traditions of the African Diaspora.

UBW performs regularly in New York City and tours nationally and internationally. The Company has been commissioned by presenters nationwide, and includes among its honors a New York Dance and Performance Award (“Bessie”); the Capezio Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance; a Black Theater Alliance Award; two Doris Duke Awards for New Work from the American Dance Festival; and named one of America’s Cultural Treasures by the Ford Foundation. Zollar is a recipient of the 2021 DanceTeacher Award of Distinction, the 2021 Martha Hill Dance Fund Lifetime Achievement Award, and named a 2021 MacArthur Fellow. Speis is the recipient of the 2017 Bessie Award for Outstanding Performer with the ensemble skeleton architecture. Judson received the APAP Leadership Fellowship and the Director’s Lab Chicago Fellowship in 2018.

Off the concert stage, UBW has developed an extensive community engagement program called BOLD (Builders, Organizers, and Leaders through Dance). UBW’s largest community engagement project is its Summer Leadership Institute (SLI), established in 1997. This 10-day intensive training program serves as the foundation for all of the company’s community engagement activities. Ultimately the SLI program connects dance professionals and community-based artists/activists in a learning experience to leverage the arts as a vehicle for civic engagement. UBW launched the Urban Bush Women Choreographic Center Initiative Producing Program (CCI 2.0) in March 2022. The CCI 2.0 fellowships support the development of women choreographers and producers of color and other underheard voices.

About “The Schaefer Center Presents”
“The Schaefer Center Presents” series offers campus and community audiences a diverse array of music, dance and theatre programming designed to enrich the cultural landscape of the Appalachian State University campus and surrounding area. By creating memorable performance experiences and related educational and outreach activities, the series promotes the power and excitement of the live performance experience; provides a “window on the world” through the artistry of nationally and internationally renowned artists; and showcases some of the finest artists of our nation and our region. Musical events range from symphony orchestra and chamber music performances to jazz, folk, traditional, international, and popular artists. Theatre productions run the gamut from serious drama to musical comedy. Dance performances offer an equally wide array of styles, from ballet to modern dance to international companies representing cultural traditions from around the world. For more information, visit

Thank You to Our Schaefer Center Presents Sponsors
Explore Boone, Creekside Electronics, Campus Store, Hampton Inn & Suites, Courtyard by Marriott, Our State Magazine, PBS North Carolina, High Country Radio (WZJS and WATA), WDAV 89.9 FM, WFDD 88.5FM, WKSK The Farm, and WASU 90.5FM.

Indigenous Enterprise performing at Schaefer Center on Nov. 16

The Mountain Times
by Derek Halsey


Long before Christopher Columbus sailed west with the intent of finding a more direct route to India for reasons of commerce, the human species had already found its way to what is now known as the North American and South American continents. Columbus had no idea that two massive land masses existed in between Europe and South Asia, yet when he did arrive, he found that the lands had already been discovered and settled by the Original Tribes.


What we know now is that human beings migrated to the two continents 20,000 to possibly 40,000 or more years before the rest of the world knew they existed. Amazingly, the two continents had been free of the human species for millions of years, containing dinosaurs and other ancient species over 63 million years ago and hosting the unique animals of the last Ice Age that were still alive when the migrants arrived. Once here, the new arrivals travelled throughout the landscape and eventually split into separate tribes.


One of the biggest tribes that exists here in modern day U.S. is the Cherokee Tribe, whose eastern band is headquartered in Western North Carolina, with the western band found in Oklahoma due to the the ill-fated and forced Trail of Years march.


The biggest Original Tribe located in the U.S., however, is the Navajo People with their Navaho Nation. A big part of the Navajo tradition is the art of dancing. Those dances, which have evolved over thousands of years, represent the organic evolution of art in the New World and they are used to tell ancient stories, to honor the spiritual leaders and ancestors of the tribe that have left this world and moved onto the next realm, and to celebrate nature as an integral part of their existence.


Kenneth Shirley grew up on the Navajo Nation reservation in Arizona and at a very young age, he became enamored with the dances of his people. Now, as an adult, Shirley has created a troupe of performers who present the dances of the Original Tribes in a wonderful show that uses video and music to accompany the live, full-costumed performances.


Called Indigenous Enterprise — Indigenous Liberation, Shirley and his team of intertribal dancers will perform at the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday, November 16, at 7 p.m. Tickets for the performance are $28 for the general public, $23 for residents of Watauga, Ashe and Avery Counties, and $10 for all students.


If you buy your tickets online at and use the code word “BOGO,” you can now buy one ticket and get another one free.


The official description of the Indigenous Enterprise — Indigenous Liberation show says that the performance, “showcases traditional dance with dazzling regalia and a contemporary flair, with the group presenting a range of powwow styles, from fancy dance to jingle dress dance, as they bring their rich cultural heritage to life with this dynamic performance of dance and song.”


As the Mountain Times interviews Shirley about his upcoming Indigenous Enterprise show here in the High Country, he and his dance mates have just performed in New York City. Over the years, the troupe has performed at the Super Bowl, at Lincoln Center, and overseas at venues such as the Sydney Opera House in Australia.


While calling upon the ancient tribal traditions, the group also seeks to move the art form forward with new ideas, apparel and music. Shirley is not only a dancer, he is also a filmmaker and he brings that skill to the Indigenous Enterprise shows by combining original video and music that the live dancers perform along with as the story is told.


Shirley achieved a Bachelor of Arts degree at Arizona State University in 2018, and since then he has collaborated with Mickey Free, the Black Eyed Peas and more creatives.


Other members of the Indigenous Enterprise troupe include Ty Lodgepole, a champion prairie chicken dancer of the Diné Tribe (which is a traditional name of the Navajo Tribe), Acosia Redelek, a champion jingle dress dancer of the Umitila Tribe, Jorge Gonzales, who is a champion hoop dancer from the Salt River Pima Tribe, Dominic Pablo, who is a championship fancy dancer from the Navajo Nation, and Freddy Gipp, a champion grass dancer from the Apache Tribe in Oklahoma.


“I grew up in the Navajo Nation in northern Arizona,” said Shirley. “Life there was awesome. That is where the majority of my family lives, so we got to grow up close to my cousins and other relatives. I started dancing when I was young because my Mom was into it. She introduced me to the PowWow Circle when I was about two years old. I just kept at it and fell in love with it when I got older. I always wanted to dance and travel, and now that is that we do.”


There are Original Tribe PowWows held almost every weekend in various parts of the country, which enabled Shirley to hone his tribal dance skills as a young man. All of that led to him starting and owning the Indigenous Enterprise company, which provided a newfound ability to bring the traditions of his people to the rest of the world with a modern flare.


“I started putting on shows at community colleges and elementary schools in Pheonix, and from there, we went on to perform at various festivals in Arizona,” said Shirley. “Then, we got hit up by Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas to do a video, and then we worked with the Sydney Opera House. The video with Taboo was seen by the “World of Dance” TV show on NBC that featured Jennifer Lopez and we competed on that program. We also performed during the Presidential Inauguration for President Biden in 2021. From there, we have performed in all kinds of different places, and now we get to come to North Carolina.”


Shirley is excited to share his vision with the folks in Boone.


“Honestly, I didn’t expect it to get this big,” said Shirley. “As a filmmaker, I decided to make some animation to go with the dancing that portrayed the Origin Stories of each dance, andthat has worked out for us. It requires a lot of organization and working as a team, but I am used to it at this point, and it all feels good. I appreciate places like Appalachian State University and venues like the Schaefer Center for helping us to share our story, and I appreciate being able to go to places like the mountains of North Carolina.”

The music takes stage to bring “Coco” to life

The Appalachian
by Makayla Muñoz
Oct. 24, 2023

Although Hispanic Heritage Month came to a close on Oct. 15, the celebration of Hispanic culture continued through a special showing of Disney’s “Coco” with a live orchestra in the Schaefer Center on Oct. 19.

This concert, which is a part of The Schaefer Center Presents series, brought the Orquesta Folclórica Nacional de México, National Folk Orchestra of Mexico, to Boone as a part of their two month long tour of North America.

According to Allison West, the director of marketing and public relations for the Office of Arts and Cultural Programs at App State, this live-to-film concert was the first time App State has presented this type of performance. The movie “Coco” was shown on the screen, but instead of the musical score being played as a part of the movie, the live orchestra was on stage playing the score in time with the movie.

West said there is a magical nature of pairing a film and live music together.

“It’s wonderful to see it on screen or hear it through speakers, but when you have an orchestra, it heightens it,” West said. “And to see those instruments come to life, like you can see on screen Miguel play the guitar and other musicians playing their instruments, but to see the real thing and hear it, you get goosebumps, because it’s all coming to life right there in front of your eyes and your ears.”

Part of what heightens the magic of the music is the blend of instruments that create the orchestra.

“The Orquesta Folclórica Nacional de México stands out as a musical ensemble recognized for its keen ability to fuse instruments from both the pre-Hispanic and colonial eras to create a unique and distinctive sound that evokes the rich history and culture of Mexico,” the concert program said.

The concert used a mix of traditional orchestral instruments such as violins and cellos and cultural instruments such as a guitarrón and drums like the huehuetl and the teponaztli.

That’s not the only part that makes the concert stand out. Michael Giacchino wrote the original musical score for “Coco,” but the orchestra had its own spin on translating the score in the movie to live performance. Conductor and Music Director Esin Aydingoz spoke of differences between the two.

“The music that you hear in the movie was recorded by a bigger orchestra, but we cannot tour with a philharmonic orchestra,” Aydingoz said. “So Jeff Kryka from Michael Giacchino’s team reduced the score to be for a 20 piece orchestra.”

Along with Giacchino, the beauty of the performance would not have been possible without the songwriters working on the music. Artists such as Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez who wrote the award winning song “Remember Me,” along with co-songwriters such as Germaine Franco and Adrian Molina who worked on the piece.

The music brings fun and liveliness, but it is the culture that makes both the movie and the music impactful.

“It’s entertainment, but it’s also cultural awareness and introducing that to people who might not really have that opportunity to see or hear that all the time,” West said.

Aydingoz reflected on the similarity and sharing of culture between herself and the members of the orchestra with whom she has fostered fun yet meaningful relationships during the time of the tour.

“I’m from Turkey, they’re from Mexico. Even though we’ve grown up on the complete opposite sides of the world, I think both cultures are very similar in the sense that family means everything and that we are so welcoming to others,” Aydingoz said. “We very quickly became a family. Performing with them and bringing “Coco” to life every night in this new way while discovering more about Mexican culture on the road is such a party.”

Culture manifests itself in fascinating yet exciting ways no matter where in the world people are celebrating it, but what makes it truly beautiful and meaningful is how it can be shared with others.

“We want to offer something for everyone and to engage the community and engage students,” said West. “That’s really what we want to do – to create a rich cultural experience right here in Boone.”

Orquesta Folclórica Nacional de México to Play Live with Disney/Pixar Film Coco at Schaefer

The Mountain Times
by Derek Halsey
Oct. 12, 2023

The Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts at Appalachian State University in Boone will host a very special performance on October 19, that will combine live music of an acclaimed orchestra from Mexico performing in unison with the showing of the hit movie Coco.

In 2017, Disney Studios and Pixar Studios created and released the computer-animated movie Coco. Grossing over $800 worldwide after its release to theaters, the plot of the film focuses on the Mexican tradition of the Day of the Dead with the official synopsis describing the story as being about “the aspiring musician Miguel who, when confronted with his family’s ancestral ban on music, enters the Land of the Dead to find his great-great-grandfather, a legendary singer. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Héctor and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history.”

Now, in 2023, the idea was hatched to highlight the music side of the Coco story by gathering together 20 of the best musicians in Mexico to perform the soundtrack of the movie live onstage as it is being shown on a big screen behind them. That is the origin story of the Orquesta Folclórica Nacional de México, who will be performing in Boone next Thursday.

Presented by the Appalachian State University Office of Arts and Cultural Programs, the Coco Live-To-Film Concert will take place at the Schaefer Center on October 19, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $28 for the general public, $23 for App State faculty and staff, and $10 for students and kids. There will also be VIP tickets available for $75 that will include a commemorative lanyard necklace, a ‘light-up wand,’ and Coco Live fleece blanket, none of which will be available at the merch table at the concert.

During its initial run, Coco won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature as well as winning an Oscar for the film’s original song “Remember Me.”

Conducting the Orquesta Folclórica Nacional de México will be Esin Aydingoz.

Hailing from Istanbul, Türkiye (Turkey), Aydingoz earned a degree in both Film Scoring as well as for Contemporary Writing and Production at the famed Berklee College of Music. Since then, she quickly rose up in the field of film scoring while also writing original music for TV shows and video games.

Since her graduation in 2017, Aydingoz has become the Assistant Chair of Berklee’s Film Scoring Department while writing music for shows found on streaming services ranging from Netflix to Apple TV, Amazon Prime and the Hallmark Channel. Aydingoz’s arrangement of the Rolling Stones’ song “Paint It Black,” featured on the Tim Burton-directed hit show Wednesday on Netflix, not only reached the Number 1 slot on the Billboard Classical Music chart; the video version of the tune has garnered millions of views on YouTube and other various outlets as well.

While growing up in Turkey, Aydingoz grew to love music at an early age.

“When I was about four years old, my grandfather got me a toy keyboard and I loved it and it became my favorite toy,” said Aydingoz. “Later on, my parents brought in private piano teachers and then I eventually started going to a part-time music conservatory program. I love playing the piano, but I didn’t think that I would pursue it as a profession. Then, around the time that I was 13 years old, I discovered that I could write new music and that became my real passion.”

Once Aydingoz was captivated by the process of composing, she worked towards studying the art form at the collegiate level.

“That led me to the Berklee College of Music where I studied Film Scoring and Contemporary Writing and Production with a Musical Theater Writing minor,” said Aydingoz. “After graduating in 2017, I moved to Los Angeles and began to do internships there, including at Hans Zimmer’s studios. Eventually, I got to work on some cool projects as a music writer and arranger, including on the Netflix show Wednesday. And now, this is my first-ever conducting gig with the Coco Live-To-Film Concert and I am very happy that I get to do this every day for two months.”

While this 20-member version of Orquesta Folclórica Nacional de México was created especially for this tour, all of the musicians in the troupe have previously played together with the famed Ballet Folclórico Nacional de México de Silvia Lozano.

“Ballet Folclórico is a very famous ballet company in Mexico and they have been performing for over 60 years now, and they have a roster of musicians that work with them,” said Aydingoz. “Some of these musicians are more folkloric with their sound and some are more symphonic, and they put together this special orchestra for the purposes of this show. So, the group consists of musicians who have played together before on various other ballets.”

Because of the camaraderie and professionalism of the musicians in the Orquesta Folclórica Nacional de México, it has made Aydingoz’s inaugural run as a Conductor memorable and enjoyable.

“It has been beautiful,” said Aydingoz. “I love Mexican culture and everybody has been so friendly that it has been very festive, and surprisingly not intimidating at all. Of course, going into this project and having my first conducting experience being such a huge opportunity, I had my self-doubts as every artist does. But, starting from the very first rehearsal, everything went so smoothly. The score of Coco has already been written perfectly by the amazing Michael Giacchino. So, I don’t really make creative decisions, I just get to shape the sound of the performance. I have power over how soft or how loud the orchestra plays, or how emotional and how passionately they perform. Through my body movements or facial expressions, I can change the sound and the energy, so I get to bring my musicality to the performance. Even though we are not changing the music and are performing it as written, it is different every show because it is being performed live. It is an adventure every night.”

Though Conductor Aydingoz is from Turkey and the orchestral musicians are from Mexico, with the two nations having oceans and continents and 7,000 miles between them, it is the shared love of music that has made this connection a positive one.

“Even though I am the conductor, I want them to first perceive me as a friend, as one of them,” said Aydingoz. “We don’t all speak the same language, but what we do only works when we share equal responsibility, trust and passion in delivering this performance and spreading joy together. We are like a family now, and that’s what Coco is all about: family.”

Hall of Famer and Soul Music Great Mavis Staples to Perform in Boone Saturday

photo by Myriam Santos

The Watauga Democrat

Long-time Staples guitarist Rick Holmstrom gives scoop on playing with a legend

by Derek Halsey

While the Staple Singers would go on to produce some of the most important soul music to ever hit the turntables and airwaves in the 1970s, the family band was making their mark with gospel hits in the previous decades. With guitar-driven songs like “Uncloudy Day,” a cut released in 1959 that influenced artists like Bob Dylan and more, the Chicago-based Staple Singers traveled extensively while on tour, including in the South in the time of Jim Crow Apartheid.

Back in the day, Mississippi was the home of Pops and Oceola Staples, a young couple who eventually moved north to Chicago so Pops could work in the mills and plants of Illinois. It was there that Mavis, Pervis, Cleotha and Yvonne Staples were born in the 1930s. As the kids grew up, and with Pops perfecting his soon-to-be-famous tremolo guitar style, the family band went from their beginnings in the church to recording on record labels such as Vee-Jay Records, United Records, Checker Records and eventually the Epic Records label.

Full story HERE.

Béla Fleck’s World Music Troupe Brings Zakir Hussain and Edgar Meyer to Boone

photo by Jeremy Cowart

The Watauga Democrat

by Derek Halsey

If Béla Fleck was in another line of work, he would be called a “Renaissance Man.” Throughout his whole career, he has been known as a musician who is at home playing many different types of music while finding success going from one project to another.

Fleck came up in the bluegrass world as a young, innovative and open-minded banjo player from New York City who first performed and recorded with the Boston-based band called Tasty Licks. Soon, the future International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Hall of Famer Sam Bush asked Fleck to join the legendary group New Grass Revival in the early 1980s, a gig that lasted about nine years.

Full story HERE.