The Selma Jeanne Cohen Fund for International Scholarship on Dance honors the pioneering and seminal contributions of preeminent dance historian Selma Jeanne Cohen.

The Fulbright Association created the fund with a generous gift from Dr. Cohen in 2000 to recognize the importance of her Fulbright exchange experience in Russia and to perpetuate her interests in dance as an international enterprise. All Cohen Lectures are presented at the Fulbright Association Annual Conference.

2022 Awardee: Janaki Nair

Dr. Janaki Nair

Dr. Janaki Nair is a Kathakali performer and a visual anthropologist who continues to explore the concept of embodying, its aligning psychophysical practices, concepts and methodologies. Through her research, she explored possibilities of making ethnographic films to create cultural and artistic memories. She is a post-graduate (M.A) in Media and her second master’s degree (MFA) is in dance.

In 2020, she completed her PhD from Northumbria University with specialised supervision from University of Oxford. She is currently a Research Project Leader at the OCHS, University of Oxford. At University of Lincoln, she researched about sustainable education methodology in post-conflict settings. She won Kerala State Best Actress Award, 2015 for her acting skills and is elected as a Fellow of Royal Society of Arts, London in 2017. Read More.

Past Honorees

2021: Dana Tai Soon Burgess

Dana Tai Soon Burgess is a leading American choreographer and cultural figure. The Washington Post Pulitzer Prize winning dance critic Sarah Kaufman writes of Burgess, “Not only a Washington prize, but a national dance treasure.” The Smithsonian named Burgess its first ever choreographer-in-residence in 2016. He is based at the National Portrait Gallery where he explores the confluence of dance and portraiture. Burgess has performed, taught, and choreographed around the world. He founded the Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company ( in 1992. It is the preeminent modern dance company in the Washington, D.C. region. He is the host of which explores the lives and creative processes of prominent Asian American artists. Three portraits of Burgess reside in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian. Read More.

2020: Janaki Patrik

Trained in both classical north Indian Kathak dance (PadmaVibhushan Pt. Birju Maharaj, beginning 1967) and Merce Cunningham modern dance technique (1971 to 1978), Janaki Patrik has choreographed thirty full-evening productions and numerous shorter works exploring an eclectic range of poetry, mythic storytelling, classical and contemporary music and dance. Read More.

2019: Román Baca

Román Baca, a New Mexico native, is a classically trained ballet dancer and choreographer. In 2001, recognizing his desire to defend the defenseless, he took a hiatus from dance and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, serving as a machine-gunner and fire-team leader in Fallujah, Iraq during the Iraq War. Read more.

2018: Jonathan Hollander

As a leading choreographer, a social activist, and an innovative professional providing opportunities to the underprivileged, Mr. Hollander’s work in using dance as a vehicle of intercultural exchange, human connection, and international opportunity has exemplified the mission of Fulbright. Read more.

2017: Rebecca Davis

Rebecca Davis is the founder of MindLeaps, an international organization working in post-conflict countries, and a Security Fellow at the Truman National Security Project. A classically-trained ballet dancer and choreographer, she is a two-time Fulbright scholar and holds a Bachelor’s degree from Temple University and a Master’s degree from American Military University.

2016: Julia M. Ritter

Julia M. Ritter, choreographer, performer, and dance scholar, is the recipient of three Fulbright Scholar awards from the U.S. Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (2002, 2005, 2008) for her creative research abroad. Julia received an MFA in dance from Temple University and her Ph.D. in dance studies from Texas Women’s University in 2016. Julia serves as chair and artistic director as well as an associate professor in the dance department at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

2015: Madeleine Hackney, “Dance for Parkinson’s Patients”

Madeleine Hackney holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Performance from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and a Ph.D. in Movement Science from Washington University in St. Louis. She is a Research Health Scientist at the Atlanta VA Center for Visual and Neurocognitive Rehabilitation and an assistant professor of medicine in the division of general medicine and geriatrics at the Emory School of Medicine.

2014: Patrick Alcedo, “An Empire Stages Back: Nationalism, Post-Coloniality, and the Canadian Diaspora in Philippine Dance”

Patrick Alcedo is an associate professor in the department of dance at York University, Toronto, where he directs the MA and Ph.D. programs in dance studies.

2013: Alice Blumenfeld, “Beyond Stereotypes: Unraveling Flamenco Dance from its Historical and Cultural Threads”

Alice Blumenfeld is a flamenco dancer, choreographer, and instructor.

2012: Josephine Dorado, “Instant Online Collaboration: Just Add Dance!”

Josephine Dorado is a social entrepreneur, strategist, producer, and professor at Funk Soup.

2011: Donna Mejia, “Tribal Fusion”

Donna Mejia received her MFA from Smith College.

2010: Helena Hammond, “Spectacular Histories: The Ballet Russes, International Cultural Exchange and the Historical Imagination”

Helena Hammond is a lecturer on dance at the University of Surrey.

2009: Laurel Victoria Gray, “A Living Legacy: Uzbek Dance”

Internationally recognized dance scholar, choreographer, and performer, Laurel Victoria Gray has devoted her life to mastering dances from Silk Road cultures and beyond. She combines her degrees in history with decades of field research and teaches dance at George Washington University and George Mason University. Her scholarly articles have appeared in many publications including the Oxford University Press International Encyclopedia of Dance, the World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theater, the Encyclopedia of Modern Asia, the Encyclopedia of Women in Islamic Culture, Facts on File, Dance Magazine, and Azerbaijan International as well as foreign dance journals.

Known as ‘the pioneer of Uzbek dance in America’, Laurel founded the award-winning Silk Road Dance Company in 1995 with the goal of fostering “cultural understanding through Beauty and Delight.”

2008: Alison M. Friedman, “Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Carving Out Space for Chinese Modern Dance in an Interconnected World”

Alison Friedman is the general manager of Parnassus Productions.

2007: Ron Jenkins, “Sacred Dance and Secular Law in Bali”

Ron Jenkins is a professor in the theater department at Wesleyan University.

2006: Barbara Browning, “Where My Dancing Had Saved Me From Disgrace”

Barbara Browning is an associate professor in the department of performance studies at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

2005: Richard Semmens, “Moving Inside and Outside the Box: Thoughts on the Graphic Notation of Baroque Dances for the Ballroom”

Richard Semmens is a dance historian and associate professor of music history in the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario.

2004: Millicent Hodson, “Reconstructing Jeux, Nijinsky’s Bloomsbury Ballet”

Millicent Hodson is a dance historian and choreographer with Ballets Old & New.

2003: Wayne B. Kraft, “Transylvanian Dancing in the Final Hour”

Wayne B. Kraft is a professor of German at Eastern Washington University.

2002: Gretchen Ward Warren, “Dancing with the Wheel of Ever Returning: A Theatrical Adventure with Australian Aborigines and Native Americans”

Gretchen Ward Warren is a professor in the School of Theater and Dance at the University of South Florida.