Praise House (1991) Discussion with Julie Dash and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar
June 5, 2019
Praise House (1991) is a film collaboration between director Julie Dash and choreographer Jawole Willa Jo Zollar that combines theater, dance, and music to pay tribute to the work and biography of visionary artist Minnie Evans. “Draw or Die” is the divine imperative received by the film’s fictional protagonist, Hannah, who is being nurtured by her grandmother but controlled by her pragmatic mother. Dash and Zollar take viewers on a poetic, visually rich interpellation of Evans’s continued creative lineage. A conversation between Dash and Zollar moderated by Brenda Dixon Gottschild follows the screening.
This program is presented in association with Always, Already, Haunting, “disss-co,” Haunt, an exhibition curated by Gwyneth Shanks, Simon Wu, and Nia Nottage, Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellows in the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program (ISP). It is on view at The Kitchen, New York, from May 24–June 15.
Jawole Willa Jo Zollar is the founder of Urban Bush Women (UBW), a performance ensemble dedicated to exploring the use of cultural expression as a catalyst for social change. In addition to creating thirty-four works for UBW, she has created performances for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Virginia Commonwealth University, and others. Zollar was designated a Master of Choreography by the John F. Kennedy Performing Arts Center in 2005, and in 2006 she received a New York Dance and Performance Award (Bessie) for creating and choreographing Walking With Pearl...Southern Diaries.
Julie Dash is an American film director, writer, and producer from New York and a recent recipient of a Special Award from the New York Film Critics Circle. Dash received her MFA in 1985 at the UCLA Film School and is one of the graduates and filmmakers born out of a time known as the L.A. Rebellion. Her feature, Daughters of the Dust (1991), was the first film by an African American woman to receive a general theatrical release in the United States. Her next project will be a biopic of civil rights icon Angela Davis, to be produced by Lionsgate.
Brenda Dixon Gottschild is a self-described anti-racist cultural worker utilizing dance as her medium. She is a performer and a lecturer. A former consultant and writer for Dance Magazine, she has authored numerous publications including Digging the Africanist Presence in American Performance: Dance and Other Contexts and Waltzing in the Dark: African American Vaudeville and Race Politics in the Swing Era. She is professor emerita of dance studies at Temple University.
More information at https://whitney.org/events/isp-praise-house.