University of South Florida

School of Theatre & Dance

College of the Arts

Merry Lynn Morris

Interim Chair/Dance and Instructor of Dance
Improvisation, Kinesiology, Research in Dance, and Movement Analysis
Phone: (813) 974-3867

Merry Lynn Morris MFA, PhD, is the Interim Chair for the Dance Program and a faculty member. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Dance Performance and Choreography and a PhD in Dance Studies. 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 in dance includes extensive classical ballet training expanded by undergraduate (USF alum.) 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. 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. Morris is active in the dance and disability community at local, regional, national and international levels through teaching, research, leadership and activism. 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 objects – 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 the Journal of Technology and Innovation, Medical Problems of Performing Artists, Journal of Humanities in Rehabilitation, Research in Dance Education, Medical Science Educator, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) and the Journal of Dance Education.

Dr. Morris’ other interdisciplinary work includes spearheading dance medicine/science initiatives at USF and teaching in the Arts in Health program with the Contemporary Art Museum and USF Health. Recent book publication: Perspectives in Performing Arts Medicine Practice: A Multidisciplinary Approach.

Dr. Morris 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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