The award was established in 1981 and carries a prize of $35,000. It is given annually to "choreographers who have dedicated their lives and talent to the creation of modern dance." Past recipients include Martha Graham, Paul Taylor, Merce Cunningham, Alvin Ailey, Twyla Tharp, Trisha Brown, and Pina Bausch.
Jones was recently awarded the $50,000 Wexner Prize. He is the co-founder of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, which was formed in 1982, and has choreographed over 50 works for his own company as well as numerous commissions for companies all over the world.