Event Calendar

Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Jim May, Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble’s Founder, Receives Lifetime Achievement Award from The Martha Hill Dance Fund

February 26 @ 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble is pleased to announce its founder, Jim May, has been honored by The Martha Hill Dance Fund with a Lifetime Achievement Award. he award will be presented by Daniel Lewis at a gala dinner on Monday, February 26, 2024, at 6pm at The Manhattan Penthouse, 80 Fifth Avenue, New York City. For more information, visit https://www.marthahilldance.org/2024-gala.

“Our goal is to honor a professional in the dance field who exemplifies any or all of those qualities for which Martha Hill was most revered — whether an educator or a creative force who has made a significant contribution to the field of dance ‘behind the scenes,” said Carl Wolz, a former student of Martha Hill.

Joan Myers Brown, founder of The Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO) and the Philadelphia School of Dance Arts, will also receive a Lifetime Achievement Award. Dancers/choreographers Ronald K. Brown and Jacqueline Buglisi will be honored with Martha Hill Mid-Career awards.

Jim May was a devoted disciple of Anna Sokolow for 35 years and co-artistic director of her dance company Players’ Project since 1990. His aim as founder of the Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble was to expand the art of dance to include the other arts (music, theater, painting, literature), working toward a progressive new style of theater/dance.

Jim May.

Mr. May was a dancer on the New York scene for over 40 years, having danced with the Limón Company under José Limón’s direction and as a soloist under Carla Maxwell’s direction. Other companies include those of Ruth Currier, Eliot Feld, Kathryn Posin, Kazuko Hirabayashi (soloist) and Daniel Lewis (principal). In addition he danced with all three of the original DTW founders; Jeff Duncan, Jack Moore and Arthur Bauman. He has danced on Broadway and as a guest artist, he has performed works by Donald McKayle, Don Redlich, Murray Louis, Pauline Koner, and Kurt Jooss.

Mr. May has taught on the faculties of SUNY Purchase, Juilliard School of Music, and Princeton University, and was on the faculty of the Limón Institute for many years. In 1992 he received the Marcus Award for Teaching Excellence from Washington University. He taught extensively in Taiwan, where he founded the company Dance Forum Taipei, and in Mexico at Central de Investigacion Corografica. He has taught at many Universities and schools in the United States, Europe, and South America; he was granted a Fulbright award to teach in Chile. His choreography has been in the repertories of Dance Conduit, Dance Forum Taipei, Thoughts in Motion, and the Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble.

Mr. May embraced the distinct dance styles of both Ms. Sokolow and Mr. Limón. He won a 1996 Fulbright Scholarship to Mexico City to extend his studies of his two mentors and their roles in the “across the border” relationship between modern dance in the US and Mexico.

Mr. May received the 1999 Bessie Award for lifetime achievement, “for a sustained achievement over decades as dance’s premiere leading man, an actor-dancer of extraordinary range and scope of character, in the living theater of Anna Sokolow.”

Anna Sokolow (1910-2000) raised on the Lower East Side of New York City and began her training at the Neighborhood Playhouse with Martha Graham and Louis Horst. In the 1930’s she was a member of the Graham Dance Company and assisted Mr. Horst in his dance composition classes. The first of the Graham dancers to strike out on her own, Sokolow’s collaboration with composer Alex North brought her deeper into socially conscious circles. During this period, her association with the WPA dance made union members her first audiences.

In 1939 Ms. Sokolow began a lifelong association with the dance and theater arts in Mexico. Her work for the Mexican Ministry of Fine Arts grew to become the National Academy of Dance there. In 1953 she was invited by Jerome Robbins to Israel to work with Inbal Dance Company. Following that, she choreographed for the major dance companies in Israel including Batsheva, Kibbutz Dance Company, and Lyric Theatre. She visited Mexico and Israel frequently to teach and to choreograph.

Ms. Sokolow’s interest in humanity led her to create works of dramatic contemporary imagery showing both the lyric and stark aspects of the human experience. Her vast range of repertory includes drama, comedy, and lyricism with her commentaries on humanity and social justice threaded into each of her works. In a 1965 Dance Magazinearticle she wrote that there were no “final solutions to today’s problems,” but that she “could simply provoke an audience into awareness.”

Ms. Sokolow’s works are performed by the Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble, and are in the repertories of numerous other companies around the world.

Ms. Sokolow also choreographed for the Broadway theater. Her credits include Street Scene, Camino Real, Candide, and the original Hair. In the late 1950’s Ms. Sokolow was the first modern dance choreographer to have her work (Rooms) presented on national television.

She was a longtime faculty member of the Juilliard School in both the dance and drama divisions. She received many honors and awards, including Honorary Doctorate degrees from Ohio State University, Brandeis University and the Boston Conservatory of Music. She received a Fulbright Fellowship to Japan, the Dance Magazine Award, a National Endowment for the Arts’ Choreographic Fellowship, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American/Israel Cultural Foundation, the Samuel H. Scripps Award, and the Encomienda, Aztec Eagle Honor (the highest civilian honor awarded to a foreigner by Mexico).

Anna Sokolow passed away in her home in New York City on March 29, 2000 at the age of 90.

About Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble

SOKOLOW THEATRE/DANCE ENSEMBLE is the living legacy company dedicated to presenting Sokolow’s vast body of emotionally riveting work. Over a 70-year career, Anna Sokolow continuously broke the boundaries of modern dance, focusing on the human experience and accessing any movement genre to fulfill her artistic purpose. Her masterpieces remain relevant to our times and touch the hearts of all people as we struggle with the universal issues of living, regardless of differences in place and culture. The company’s projects include reconstruction, reimagination, deconstruction, historical performance, teaching, lectures, archiving, and partnering with contemporary choreographers—all modes through which we step inside Sokolow’s masterworks and draw from this perspective to better frame our future. ST/DE was founded by Sokolow protégé Jim May and is currently under the artistic direction of Samantha Géracht. For more information, visit sokolowtheatredance.org.

About The Martha Hill Dance Fund

Martha Hill was the founding director of the dance programs/departments at New York University’s School of Education (teaching dance in the Physical Education department starting in 1930 and initiating the graduate program in dance education in 1938), Bennington College (1932), and The Juilliard School (1951) as well as the summer festivals The Bennington School of the Dance (1934) and The Connecticut College School of the Dance (1948), precursors to The American Dance Festival, one of the most important dance festivals in the United States, now held at Duke University. With these programs and festivals, Hill established early and diverse models for dance in higher education: Dance in Physical Education, Dance as part of the Liberal Arts, Dance in a Conservatory, and the Summer Dance Festival. It should be noted that she held full-time appointments at Bennington College and New York University simultaneously while also directing summer dance programs, which indicates her enormous drive and energy. Hill brought in renowned professional choreographers to teach her students at all of the institutions where she directed dance. By bringing professionals into higher education, she exposed her students to the highest artistic standards. She also became a benefactor, through the institutions, to the dance artists by giving them teaching work and producing their choreography. In addition, she combined ballet and modern together as a training method at Juilliard, a revolutionary concept in the 1950s in the United States. This affected the blending and merging of the two forms as other training institutions followed her model, leading dancers to become highly skilled in both genres. When the Juilliard Dance Division was in danger of being closed, at the time of the school’s move to Lincoln Center, Hill waged a fierce battle to keep the division intact, and she won. Hill was the moving force behind the scenes of 20th century American concert dance and dance education and tied the two together in a lasting relationship that continues today to the betterment of both.

Now in its 23rd year, The Martha Hill Dance Fund continues to perpetuate the legacy of a remarkable woman whose influence in the world of dance education and performance knew no bounds.


February 26
6:00 PM - 9:00 PM