Each year, dancers from across the United States and abroad apply to study at The School at Jacob’s Pillow. Only one will earn the Lorna Strassler Award for Student Excellence.

Founded in 2004 by former Jacob’s Pillow Trustee, Lorna Strassler and her husband, this prize provides a full scholarship and a $2,500 cash prize. Lorna Strassler Award recipients are selected based on performance skill excellence, a demonstrated unwavering dedication to the arts, and vision of their role in dance.

Recipients to date

  • 2020 Cali Hollister (Contemporary) The Juilliard School
  • 2019 Adriana Ogle (Tap) Freelance Dancer 
  • 2018 Ariel Triunfo (Musical Theatre Dance)  Freelance Theatre Artist, Model
  • 2017 Madison Embrey (Musical Theatre Dance) Mortal Kombat Motion Capture Video Artist, Freelance Performer
  • 2016 Eoin Robinson (Ballet & Contemporary) Staatsballett Berlin Company Member
  • 2015 Therese Davis (Ballet) Pursuing a career in Medicine & Biology that integrates dance in treatment
  • 2014 Amber Barbee Pickens (Contemporary) Actress, Choreographer, and Host of Kickback & Chat with Amber Pickens talk show, Art Belongs to the People Founder
  • 2013 Samantha Barriento (Contemporary) Norwegian Cruise Line, Freelance Performer
  • 2012 Theresa J. Murray (Jazz/Musical Theatre) Actor’s Equity Association Member, American Guild of Variety Artists Member, Disneyland Resort Performer
  • 2011 Craig Black (Contemporary) Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Cardi B BET Awards Performer
  • 2010 Calvin Royal III (Ballet) American Ballet Theatre Principal Dancer
  • 2009 I-Fen Lin (Contemporary) Faculty: Taipei National University of the Arts Faculty and National Performing Arts Center/National Theatre & Concert Hall 
  • 2008 Lindsey Jolyn Jackson (Contemporary & Jazz) The Lion King and Podcast Host 
  • 2007 Christi Shannon Kline (Jazz/Musical Theatre) Author, Poet
  • 2006 Min Li (Contemporary) Dance Teacher, Costume Designer 
  • 2005 Avichai Scher (Ballet) Ford Foundation Writer, Freelance journalist: Dance Magazine, The New York Times, HuffPost, and NBC News
  • 2004 Winston Dynamite Brown (Contemporary) Camille A. Brown & Dancers Company Member and Faculty: Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation, Joffrey Ballet School Faculty, and Kansas City Ballet School Faculty

The School at Jacob’s Pillow is excited to welcome the 2020 Lorna Strassler Award Winner Cali Hollister into this esteemed cohort of alumni. Cali Hollister is a native of Springfield, Virginia and began dancing at the age of two. She graduated from Thomas A. Edison High School in 2018 and will be entering her third year at The Juilliard School in the fall. She has performed the works of Jamar Roberts, Marcus Jarrell Willis, Paul Taylor, Michelle Dorrance, and Carmen Rosezstraten. Well versed in both modern and contemporary dance, she has had the opportunity to train with Ohad Naharin, Terese Capucilli, Risa Steinberg, Bobbi Jene Smith, and Alicia Graf Mack. She has been accepted to summer programs including Joffrey Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance, Alonzo King LINES, Arts Umbrella and Orsolina 28. Hollister has learned the repertoire of Tricia Brown, Crystal Pite, Nacho Duato, Robyn Mineko Williams, Florian Lochner, Sharon Eyal, and Ohad Naharin. She participated in the Jacob’s Pillow Contemporary Program online this summer, where she was chosen as The Lorna Strassler Award recipient for Student Excellence at Jacob’s Pillow.