Questions of Practice: Choreographer Jawole Willa Jo Zollar on Artistic Evolution and Risk

Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, choreographer and founding artistic director of Urban Bush Women, discusses her evolution as a choreographer and the importance of embracing risk throughout her practice. “Risk exists on the edge of failure…so if you’re not right on that edge of failure…you’re not in a place of risk. Living on that edge and learning from that edge to me is a really exciting place,” she says.

Choreographer Jawole Willa Jo Zollar on artistic evolution and risk. Filmed at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage on February 3, 2016.

Choreographer Jawole Willa Jo Zollar is founding artistic director of Urban Bush Women (UBW), a performance ensemble dedicated to exploring the use of cultural expression as a catalyst for social change. In addition to her work with UBW, Zollar has created works for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Philadanco, Virginia Commonwealth University, among others; and with collaborators including Nora Chipaumire and Compagnie Jant-Bi. A professor of dance at Florida State University, her honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Doris Duke Artist Award, and a USA Wynn Fellowship.


Grants & Grantees

Elaine Terranova is a poet and a 2006 Pew Fellow.

Grants & Grantees

Supporting, documenting and presenting Philadelphia area folk arts, the Philadelphia Folklore Project is committed to sustaining community cultural knowledge.

Grants & Grantees

Within a welcoming educational environment, Al-Bustan supports the Arab-American community’s pursuit and affirmation of its cultural identity.

Following a performance of Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq, there will be a post-show conversation with representatives of nonprofit organization Warrior Writers.

Grants & Grantees

In order to examine the difficult topic of addiction and its consequences, Pushers uses celebrity culture as its lens, as a way to connect with West Philadelphia youth and encourage them to share their own experiences.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Kemi Ilesanmi is executive director of New York’s The Laundromat Project, which brings art, artists, and arts programming into local coin-operated laundromats and other community spaces to amplify the creativity that already exists within communities.

Grants & Grantees

The Wilma Theater creates living, adventurous art through bold and ambitious design choices.

Collaborators & Colleagues

James Alan McPherson is the recipient of many national literary awards, including a Pulitzer Prize and a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship award.

The Mississippi Blues Project featured eight exceptional blues musicians who made their regional debuts, all of whom were selected for their contributions to the genre and its continuing evolution as a vibrant folk art form.

During a recent conversation at the Center, performance impresario and Center visiting scholar Kristy Edmunds was asked, “Why do you do what you do?”

Grants & Grantees

The Painted Bride commissioned a new dance work by Caribbean-born choreographers Marianela Boán, Gabri Christa, and Tania Isaac.