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Alumni Feature

Dr. Sheila A. Ward

Dr. Sheila Ward is a native to Richmond, Virginia and was a member of the African American Dance Company during her undergraduate experience at Indiana University. Here she earned degrees in Physical Education, as well as in Dance. Dr. Ward went on to earn her M.Ed. and Ph.D in Exercise Physiology at Temple University. Later she returned to school to earn her MPH in Epidemiology from Eastern Virginia Medical School and is now a tenured professor at Norfolk State University.

Staying true to her roots in dance, Dr. Ward is a co-director of Eleone Dance Theatre in Philadelphia, PA., and has incorporated her love for and experience with dance into her academic career. Dr. Ward has successfully received state, federal, and private funding for research and program implementation including authoring and implementing twelve dance-related grants, such as $40,000 from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through Dance Advance Award for the reconstruction of "Americana," a signature work of the legendary Ms. Katherine Dunham and $96,000 to acquire a new work by Dianne McIntyre; Dr. Ward has received various grant awards related to various chronic diseases and is currently funded to implement the NSU Health and Wellness Initiative for Women, funded by the Office on Women’s Health, Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Ward’s presentations and publications on the international, national, state, and local levels are extensive and varied. Recent publications include Redesigning the Body, African-centered Dance: An Intervention Tool for HIV/AIDS Prevention, Health and the Power of Dance, and African Dance Aesthetics in a K-12 Dance Setting: From History to Social Justice. In recent years, Dr. Ward has also guested at Indiana University’s African American Dance Company’s Annual Dance Workshops bringing her perspective on "Health Empowerment through Cultural Awareness" through dance back to the campus where she received some of her initial training.

She is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Iota Omega Chapter, and several statewide taskforces. She currently performs professionally with Eleone Dance Theatre and performed and trained with The Philadelphia Company, Philadanco and Philadanco II. She is currently on the Virginia Artist in Education Residency Roster, Virginia Commission on the Arts and the Dance Roster of the Richmond Arts Council. She has completed over 28 extended dance residencies in grades K-12 throughout the States of Virginia and Delaware, and the city of Philadelphia, PA. Dr. Ward was featured in the magazines, Dance Teacher Now (2009), which highlighted multiple careers of dancers and Upscale Magazine (2009), which highlighted the use of African Dance for health.

Dr. Sheila A. Ward is the recipient of Norfolk State University’s 2009 Distinguished Faculty Award for Scholarship and a 2011 Honoree of the Virginia Peninsula ACT-SO Program, sponsored by the Newport News NAACP, for outstanding achievement in the field of Dance. She is also the recipient of 2008 and 2011 Mayoral Citations from the City of Philadelphia for her contributions to the Philadelphia arts community. Most recently, Dr. Ward was Conference Co-director, Dancing for Health and Wellness: Empowering Communities to Move and Live Healthy Lives through Dance, an international conference sponsored by National Dance Association and the NSU Health and Wellness Initiative for Women, August 2 – 4, 2012, Norfolk, VA. Currently, Dr. Ward is a Certification Candidate for the Umfundalai African Dance Technique and the Katherine Dunham Technique, and the 2014 Herman C. Hudson Alumni Award Recipient through the African American Arts Institute, Indiana University for her "outstanding career as a dance educator and scholar."

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