By Dee Jay Cox 

Nelson Mandela said, “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

And it is in the pursuit of passion and the refusal to settle for less, that filmmaker Jennifer Abod has created the documentary, “The Passionate Pursuit of Angela Bowen” a featured presentation at the Tolerance Education Center in Rancho Mirage, on Sunday, April 10th.  A film about a young black girl who grew up in the inner city Boston during the Jim Crow era and went on to become a legendary teacher, writer, feminist and activist.

What drives one person to excel against oppression, while another succumbs to it? Some just seemed destined for a life less ordinary.


The Passionate Pursuits of Angela Bowen is described as a feature length documentary that begins with Bowen’s accidental discovery of dance when her mother enrolled her in The Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts in 1952 to improve her posture.  From the inner city streets to prestigious universities, Angela Bowen was a passionate dancer, teacher and activist who confronted sexism, racism and homophobia, transforming her life and the lives of all those around her.

The film explores her career as the first African American woman featured as a prima ballerina in Swan Lake.  It illuminates Bowen’s experiences through her richly layered lens as a black lesbian feminist artist, activist, mother, and teacher, while exploring the major influences, challenges, disappointments, tragedies, accomplishments, and critical transitions in her life.

Director/Filmmaker Jennifer Abod (an American feminist activist, musician and journalist, who first met Angela Bowen in 1979) began the making of this incredible documentary film in 2000 at the on-set of Angela Bowen’s beginning stages of Alzheimers, in an effort to capture and share the extraordinary life of a woman whose passion and brilliance had pushed beyond the oppressive barriers of sexism and racism.

The Passionate Pursuits of Angela Bowen will inspire audiences to pursue their dreams with tenacity and courage.

Following the Screening of the film the afternoon will include a one-on-one Q&A with filmmaker Jennifer Abod.

Time and Location: The Tolerance Education Center 35147 Landy Ln, Rancho Mirage, CA  1:00pm, Sunday, April 10th.

For film information visit:

  • Audre Lorde, Nancy Hughes and Angela Bowen Photo by Jennifer Abod