Top Florida State choreographer Zollar awarded $50,000 Wynn fellowship

Jawole Willa Jo Zollar

Internationally known choreographer Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, an esteemed dance professor at The Florida State University and the founder and artistic director of the Brooklyn-based troupe Urban Bush Women, has been named a 2008 USA Wynn Fellow in dance by the philanthropic nonprofit organization United States Artists (USA).

The prestigious honor carries with it a $50,000 unrestricted grant in recognition of the exceptional contributions to the field of dance by Zollar, a Florida State alumna and the Nancy Smith Fichter Professor of Dance in the university’s College of Visual Arts, Theatre and Dance. USA ( is an independent grant-making organization that invests in the work of America’s finest artists and aims to illuminate their value to society. It announced its 2008 fellowships — awarded across a broad array of disciplines to a total of 50 artists working throughout the nation — during a Nov. 10 ceremony in Chicago.

"I am thrilled, humbled and grateful to receive this award, and feel indebted to my Florida State University colleagues and students for all the support and sheer joy I have received from being in their presence," Zollar said.

USA Fellows are chosen through a highly competitive nomination and peer-review process. Zollar is one of only five choreographers to receive the award. She shares her 2008 recognition with fellow American dance artists Ann Carlson, Joe Goode, Pat Graney and Dianne Walker.

"Jawole Zollar is a true American treasure who is most deserving of this important recognition," said Sally McRorie, dean of Florida State University’s College of Visual Arts, Theatre and Dance. "The USA award is of particular importance because, like the MacArthur Award, funding goes directly to the artist with no specified duties or other requirements attached. Thus the award recognizes, rewards and extends the stellar record of accomplishment of exemplary artists, such as Jawole. Her extraordinary achievements in choreography, artistic direction and community engagement and her inspired teaching of young dancers make Jawole a true role model for artists in every discipline."

Zollar divides her time between teaching at The Florida State University and directing her all-female dance company, Urban Bush Women. She currently is presenting her latest work with Senegal’s all-male Compagnie JANT-BI, titled "Les écailles de la memoire" (The Scales of Memory), at the distinguished Brooklyn Academy of Music. "Les écailles de la memoire" was developed in Tallahassee at Florida State University’s Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography, a dance and choreographic research center that is part of one of the premier facilities for dance in the United States.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music performance of Zollar’s latest work, which was first previewed last January in Tallahassee to raise scholarship money for Florida State students, marks the end of a yearlong tour to 20 cities across the country. Next, the work embarks for a tour of Europe. Footage of "Les écailles de la memoire" in development and podcasts with Zollar and her collaborators can be accessed online at

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