Dance Professor Holly Williams Receives Fulbright Specialists Award

Holly Williams, professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at The University of Texas at Austin, has been selected by the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board to receive a Fulbright Specialists grant for a project in Finland at the Turun Ammattikorkeakoulu Taideakatemia, the Turku University of Applied Sciences Arts Academy (TUAS).

Williams spent three weeks in November in Turku teaching contemporary dance technique, lecturing on choreography, serving as a consultant concerning the TUAS Arts Academy structural development toward performing arts disciplines and creating new choreographic work.

"As the 2011 European Capital of Culture, Turku is a vibrant, exciting city," Williams said. "The opportunity to work through the Fulbright program with dance faculty and students there, both creatively and as a consultant, was unique and as valuable to me as I hope it was for them. The arts are always a wonderful environment to make connections and to share culture, personal stories and creative experiences. Even when we didn't speak the same language, we understood each other completely, in the best possible way.

"I was delighted to represent The University of Texas at Austin with the Finnish arts community and the U.S. Embassy representative who came from Helsinki to watch our final presentation. And of course, I didn't miss the chance to teach them all 'Hook 'em Horns,' though I will admit the reindeer in Finland have formidable horns."

Williams is the president of the American College Dance Festival Association and recently was interim chair for the Department of Theatre and Dance. She has performed nationally and internationally with the companies of Laura Dean, Jose Limon and Mark Morris. Williams' choreography for the Houston Grand Opera, Dallas Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Austin Theatre Alliance, Dallas Theatre Center and the concert stage have won her national acclaim.

She has been on the dance panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, Dance/USA and the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation. As a writer and critic, she has contributed articles on dance to The New York Times, Dallas Morning News and the Austin American-Statesman.

Williams is one of more than 400 faculty and professionals who will travel abroad this year through the Fulbright Specialists Program. The program was created in 2000 to complement the traditional Fulbright Scholar Program. It provides short-term academic opportunities (two to six weeks) to prominent U.S. faculty and professionals to support curricular and faculty development and institutional planning at post-secondary, academic institutions around the world.