Jawole Willa Jo Zollar Wins the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize

Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, the Lawton and Nancy Smith Fichter Professor in the College of Fine Arts at Florida State University, has been awarded the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize — one of the most prestigious awards in the American arts.

Established in 1994, the Gish Prize is given annually to an individual who has “made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life.” Professor Zollar will receive a cash award of approximately $250,000 for her groundbreaking work as a dancer and choreographer and her contributions to social change.

In 1984, Jawole founded Urban Bush Women as a performance ensemble dedicated to exploring the use of cultural expression as a catalyst for social change. The company has toured five continents and has performed at venues including Brooklyn Academy of Music, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and The Kennedy Center.

Professor Zollar joined the faculty at the School of Dance at Florida State University in 1997. In 2021, she was awarded a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant.”

A native of Kansas City, Professor Zollar received a bachelor’s degree in dance from the University of Missouri at Kansas City and a master of fine arts degree in dance from Florida State University.

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