Jawole Willa Jo Zollar
Doris Duke Artist Award, 2013
Tallahassee, FL and Brooklyn, NY
Jawole Willa Jo Zollar founded Urban Bush Women (UBW) in 1984 as a performance ensemble dedicated to exploring the use of cultural expression as a catalyst for social change. Her choreography offers audiences a more holistic view of African American women's experiences in relation to the dynamism of the human condition—whether investigating Pearl Primus’ diaries of African cultures (Walking with Pearl series, 2006) or offering a sassy riff on the female backside as in the iconic Batty Moves (1995). Her company was selected as one of three U.S. dance companies to inaugurate a cultural diplomacy program for the U.S. Department of State. She is currently working on the re-launch of UBW and the 30th Anniversary Season, featuring a new work, Walking With 'Trane, which explores the life and musical legacy of John Coltrane. Designated a Master of Choreography by the Kennedy Performing Arts Center in 2005, Zollar, with UBW, has received numerous honors including a USA Fellowship (2009), a Guggenheim Fellowship (2008), and multiple MAP Fund and NEFA National Dance Project grants. A devoted educator, she serves as director of UBW’s acclaimed Summer Leadership Institute and holds the position of Nancy Smith Fichter Professor of Dance and Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor at Florida State University.