Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, FSU School of Dance’s Nancy Smith Fichter Professor of Dance and Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor at Florida State will be honored by The Bessies as the recipient of the 2017 NY Dance and Performance Award for Lifetime Achievement in Dance on Monday, October 9, 2017. For 33 years, the NY Dance and Performance Awards have saluted outstanding and groundbreaking creative work in the dance field recognizing work in choreography, performance, music composition, and visual design.
Jawole Willa Jo Zollar has created groundbreaking dance with her company Urban Bush Women for more than three decades. In addition, her revolutionary insight into curating and her dedication to nurturing dance artists, particularly women choreographers of color, continues to transform and expand the dance landscape. – Lucy Sexton, Executive Director of The Bessies.
Jawole, Founder and Artistic Director of Urban Bush Women, was born and raised in Kansas City, MO. She trained with Joseph Stevenson, a student of the legendary Katherine Dunham, and received a B.A. in dance from the University of Missouri at Kansas City and an M.F.A. in dance from Florida State University. In 1980, she moved to New York City to study with Dianne McIntyre at Sounds in Motion. She founded Urban Bush Women in 1984. In addition to 34 works for UBW, Jawole has created works for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Philadanco, and others and with collaborators including Compagnie Jant-Bi from Senegal and Nora Chipaumire. She was named Alumna of the Year by Florida State University (1997), and awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Columbia College as well as honorary degrees from Tufts University and Rutgers University. She also received the Martin Luther King Distinguished Service Award from Florida State University.
Dance for me is a deep yearning, love and investigation of the moving form. I joined the faculty of FSU in 1997 and its been an amazing, amazing journey. – Jawole Willa Jo Zollar
In 2006 Zollar received a NY Dance and Performance Award for her work as choreographer/creator of Walking With Pearl…Southern Diaries and is a nominee this year for her collaborative work with Taylor Mac in the category Outstanding Music/Sound Design. Featured in the PBS documentary Free to Dance, Zollar was designated a Master of African-American Choreography by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2005; received a 2008 United States Artists Wynn fellowship; a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation; the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award; the 2016 Dance Magazine award; and the 2016 Dance/USA Honor Award.