Choreographer Jawole Willa Jo Zollar wins 2014 Meadows Prize

Jawole Willa Jo ZollarSMU’s Meadows School of the Arts has chosen choreographer Jawole Willa Jo Zollar as the recipient of its 5th annual Meadows Prize arts residency.

The Kansas City native is the founder of Urban Bush Women (UBW), a performance ensemble dedicated to exploring the use of cultural expression as a catalyst for social change. In 2006 she received a New York Dance and Performance Award (Bessie) for her work as choreographer/creator of Walking With Pearl…Southern Diaries.

Featured in the PBS documentary Free to Dance, which chronicles the African American influence on modern dance, Zollar was designated a Master of Choreography by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2005. She earned a B.A. in dance from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and an M.F.A. in dance from Florida State University.

UBW has toured five continents and has performed at venues including Brooklyn Academy of Music, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and the Kennedy Center. The ensemble was selected as one of three U.S. dance companies to inaugurate a cultural diplomacy program for the U.S. Department of State in 2010. In 2012, Zollar was a featured artist in the film Restaging Shelter, produced and directed by Bruce Berryhill and Martha Curtis, and currently available to PBS stations.

Zollar will conduct the first half of her residency at SMU Feb. 17-28, working with Meadows dance students to restage her recent work Chalabati, which she originally choreographed for the UBW repertoire. The students will perform Chalabati as part of Meadows’ Spring Dance Concert, taking place March 26-30.

“We’re very excited to welcome Jawole Zollar to the Meadows School as our fifth-year recipient of the Meadows Prize arts residency,” said Meadows Dean José Bowen. “Jawole’s work with the UBW embodies the incredible impact that innovative artists can have on their communities – an invaluable lesson for our students at the Meadows School and our broader Dallas community.”

Inaugurated in October 2009, the Meadows Prize is presented each fall to up to two pioneering artists. It includes support for a four-to-eight-week residency in Dallas, in addition to a $25,000 stipend. In return, recipients are expected to interact in a substantive way with Meadows students and collaborating arts organizations, and to leave a lasting legacy in Dallas, such as a work of art that remains in the community, a composition or piece of dramatic writing that would be performed locally, or a new way of teaching in a particular discipline.

Read the full story at SMU News