The $35,000 annual award "honors choreographers who have dedicated their lives and talent to the creation of modern dance."
Morris formed the Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) in 1980. After extensive touring in the U.S. and Europe, the company made its first national television program for the PBS series Dance in America in 1986.
From 1988 to 1991, MMDG was in residence at the Th_ê¢tre Royal de la Monnaie as the national dance company of Belgium. During this time, Morris created The Hard Nut; L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato; and Dido and Aeneas.
In 1990, he co-founded the White Oak Dance Project with Mikhail Baryshnikov.
Morris has also received the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship (1991), Dance Magazine Award (1991) and two New York Dance and Performance "Bessie" Awards (1984 and 1990).
Past recipients of the Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award include Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, Hanya Holm, Alwin Nikolais, Katherine Dunham, Alvin Ailey, Erick Hawkins, Twyla Tharp, Anna Sokolow, Donald McKayle, Talley Beatty, Trisha Brown, Meredith Monk, Anna Halprin, Fayard and Harold Nicholas, Pina Bausch, Pilobolus Dance Theatre, Garth Fagan, Maguy Marin, Eiko and Koma, Bill T. Jones, Murray Louis and (posthumously) Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman, Jos_ Lim‹n, Pearl Primus and Helen Tamiris.