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About Merry L. Morris

Merry L. Morris, MFA, PhD, is the Assistant Director for the Dance Program at the University of South Florida and a full-time faculty member invested in teaching and research. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in dance performance and choreography from Florida State University and a PhD from Texas Woman’s University. Dr. Morris has served on the faculty of the USF dance program since 1998 focusing in both teaching and research. Courses include: Dance Improvisation, Dance Kinesiology, Research in Dance, Laban Movement Analysis, Ballet Technique, and Dance Conditioning. Her background experience and training in dance includes extensive classical ballet training expanded by undergraduate (USF alum.) and graduate study in various modern dance techniques/styles and other dance forms. Dr. Morris's early professional performance background includes performance and study with the Tampa Ballet and Dance Theatre of Florida.
Dr. Morris seeks out interdisciplinary opportunities in which her movement background and expertise can be utilized and expanded. Her collaborative work crosses multiple disciplines including: Engineering, Physical Therapy, Architecture, Music, and Visual Art. She enjoys opportunities to utilize dance in diverse, integrative, and therapeutic ways. She began exploring the area of integrated/inclusive dance in 2002, and as caregiver to a disabled father over a 21 year period, her interest and awareness in disability needs has been ever-present. Dr. Morris serves on the board for VSA Florida, the statewide arts and disability organization. And, in the Tampa community, Dr. Morris teaches ballet and integrated dance for young children and adults (REVolutions Dance www.revdance.org) and choreographs regularly.

The intersections between dance, disability and assistive technology design are a prominent focus of Morris' work. Much of her creative and scholarly work interrogates how assistive technologies can interface with the human body to facilitate artistic expression and healthful mobility. She has worked collaboratively across the domains of dance and engineering to invent new mobility devices for use in and outside of dance. Dr. Morris’ dance/mobility chair project (http://artsanddisability.blogspot.com/) involves approaching wheelchair design from a dance performance perspective to increase options for differently-abled individuals and expand perceptions regarding disability. The project has received national and international recognition and several patented chair prototypes have been built. Dr. Morris has been featured/interviewed by MSNBC, the Katie Couric show, PBS, CNN, the Reader’s Digest and the Inventor’s Digest (cover story). Her invention has been featured at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, where she has also been a guest speaker. Dr. Morris’ publications include: five U.S. Patents and over 25 scholarly (print) publications, including conference proceedings and peer-reviewed journal articles.

Dr. Morris’ other research-related projects include the Dance Wellness Program at USF: a collaboration with the School of Physical Therapy to help support the physical fitness and health needs of USF dance majors, and teaching in the Arts and Health program with the Contemporary Art Museum http://www.graphicstudio.usf.edu/CAM/cam_artinhealth.html.

Dr. Morris is a member of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO), the Florida Dance Education Organization (FDEO), CORPS de Ballet International, and the Society for Disability Studies (SDS). She is also an American Ballet Theatre® National Training Curriculum certified teacher. Ms. Morris continues to pursue research and study in the area of dance medicine/kinesiology and she is also a member and regular presenter at the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS).

Positions

Present Assistant Director and Instructor, University of South Florida
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Curriculum Vitae




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Honors and Awards

  • Florida Division of Cultural Affairs Diversity and Inclusion Award (2015)
  • Cover feature in Inventor’s Digest January 2016
  • Golden Key International Honor Society Research Grant recipient (2015)

Courses

  • Dance Kinesiology
  • Movement Analysis
  • Ballet
  • Dance Improvisation
  • Research in Dance

Education

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2012 Present PhD, Texas Woman’s University
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1998 MFA, Florida State University
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1996 BA, University of South Florida
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Contact Information


Publications (8)

Publicity/Media (12)

Conference Presentations (4)

Patents (5)