University of South Florida

School of Theatre & Dance

College of the Arts

Dr. Merry Lynn Morris

Dance and Professor of Instruction
Improvisation, Kinesiology, Research in Dance, and Movement Analysis
Phone: (813) 974-3867

Merry Lynn Morris MFA, PhD, is a dance educator, researcher and choreographer. She has been invested in the field of dance education for more than twenty years and holds two terminal degrees in dance – an MFA degree in Dance Performance and Choreography and a PhD in Dance Studies. She is a regular presenter at regional, national and international dance conferences, a reviewer for multiple key dance journals in the field and has a wide variety of published work. She has served in faculty positions at the University of Tampa and University of South Florida, and as an invited guest teacher/choreographer for many dance organizations/institutions. Dr. Morris is currently a professor in the USF dance program and has served on the faculty since 1998. She has also served in roles as Assistant Director and Interim Chair. Courses include: Dance Improvisation, Dance Kinesiology, Research in Dance, Laban Movement Analysis, Ballet Technique, and Dance Conditioning. Her background experience in dance includes extensive classical ballet training expanded by undergraduate and graduate study in various contemporary dance techniques/styles and other dance forms. Morris's professional performance background includes performance and study with the Tampa Ballet and Dance Theatre of Florida.

Dr. Morris applies her movement expertise in novel and diverse ways, pursuing interdisciplinary endeavors that yield innovative products. Her interdisciplinary work includes disability studies, design, architecture, engineering, and health sciences. Morris is active in the dance and disability community at local, regional, national and international levels through teaching, research, leadership and activism. Her interests were fueled by working with dancers with disabilities choreographically beginning in 2002 and being a caregiver to her disabled father over a 21-year period. She collaborates frequently with Arts4All Florida, a statewide arts and disability organization, and serves in Dance/USA’s Deaf and Disability Affinity Group.

Dr. Morris’ artistic and scholarly research often explores the interface between human bodies and external, material structures – the tension through which agency and power is negotiated in these relationships and the way identity is de-constructed/reconstructed. This interest coalesced with her work in disability, leading her to re-conceptualize the design of assistive technology from a dance perspective. She has worked collaboratively across the domains of dance and engineering to invent new mobility devices for use in and outside of dance. The project has received national and international recognition and several patented chair prototypes have been developed. Dr. Morris has been featured/interviewed by MSNBC, PBS, CNN, NPR’s Science Friday, 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 and a profiled inventor (2018-19).

She has earned five U.S. Patents and her research scholarship appears in journals such as the Journal of Technology and Innovation, Medical Problems of Performing Artists, Research in Dance Education, and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R).

Dr. Morris’ other interdisciplinary work includes spearheading dance medicine/science initiatives, coordinating the Dance Medicine and Science Certificate Program, and serving in the USF Performing Arts Medicine Collaborative. Morris is co-editor and author in the book, Perspectives in Performing Arts Medicine Practice: A Multidisciplinary Approach.

She is a member of the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS), National Academy of Inventors (NAI), Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA), the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO), CORPS de Ballet International, and the Society for Disability Studies (SDS). She is also an American Ballet Theatre® National Training Curriculum certified teacher.

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