Choreographer Earns Highest Honor From FSU Colleagues

By: FSU News Release
By: FSU News Release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — April 26, 2011 -

Florida State University Artist-in-Residence Jawole Willa Jo Zollar –– acclaimed choreographer and the founding and artistic director of New York dance company Urban Bush Women –– has been named Florida State’s 2011-2012 Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor. It is the highest honor bestowed by the FSU faculty on one of its own.

“Jawole Willa Jo Zollar is a force of nature who truly unleashes the power of dance to change lives, from her astonishing work since 1984 with contemporary dance company Urban Bush Women to her pioneering and inspiring work with students, artists, and communities around the world,” said FSU College of Visual Arts, Theatre and Dance Dean Sally McRorie. “Her celebrated work is a rich stew that reflects the artistic and historical diversity of human culture.

“She is a national treasure,” McRorie said. “We are very lucky to have this exceptional artist, educator and humanitarian as our colleague, friend, devoted teacher and mentor.”

The esteem with which colleagues and students regard Zollar has been reflected in her recognition as a 2009-2010 Guggenheim Fellow. She also is the recipient of, among numerous honors, a 2008 United States Artists Wynn Fellowship; a 2006 and 1992 New York Dance and Performance Award, better known as a “BESSIE” –– the dance world’s Tony; the 2006 Joyce Award; the 2005 Master of African American Choreography Award from the Kennedy Center; FSU’s 1999 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Distinguished Service Award; the 1997 FSU Alumna of the Year Award (Zollar received her Master of Fine Arts degree in dance from FSU in 1979); and the 1994 Capezio Award.

Zollar and her Urban Bush Women were appointed as 2010 U.S. State Department cultural ambassadors to South America and, closer to home, Zollar has led community leadership institutes across the United States for many years.

And the tradition of community engagement continues. This summer will be the second consecutive one that Zollar takes the Urban Bush Women troupe to New Orleans with the goal of making a difference in that community and the lives of its citizens.

To read more about Zollar, visit the Florida State University website at

For additional information about the FSU School of Dance, visit the website at

Learn more about the Urban Bush Women at

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