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Kelly Lester

Professor Kelly Lester

Full Professor


Kelly Ferris Lester, received her BFA in Theatre and Dance from the University of Memphis and her MFA in Choreography and Performance from The College at Brockport (SUNY).Lester is the Director of the Center for Faculty Development, and an ACUE Distinguished Teaching Scholar. In the dance field, Lester is a Certified Evans Teacher, a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist, and Co-director for Eastwest Somatics Institute for Yoga, Dance and Movement Studies. She serves as President-Elect for the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO, 2019-2020). Lester is a co-founder of Hub Dance Collective for which she regularly performs and share choreography. Her choreography has been featured at many national festivals including ACDA Galas (20116, 2011), and a tour of The Body Politic with collaborator and dancer Elizabeth Lentz-Hill.

  • Choreography and Performance (MFA) - SUNY College at Brockport (2007)
  • Dance (BFA) - University of Memphis (2000)

DAN 130 (Dance Appreciation)
DAN 135 (Introduction to Dance Studies)
DAN 201 (Beginning Modern Dance)
DAN 212 (Elements of Dance Composition)
DAN 240 (Music Analysis for Dance)
DAN 301 (Intermediate Modern Dance)
DAN 310 (Advanced Dance Composition)
DAN 312 (Junior Choreographic Projects)
DAN 401 (Advanced Modern Dance)
DAN 411 (Thesis Writing for Dance)
DAN 420 (Repertory Dance Company)

  • (Re)Forming Collective
    Music: Laurie Anderson, Meredith Monk, Todd Reynolds sound engineer: Kelly Ferris Lester, April 2015, 10 dancers; Restaged for the South American College Dance Association(ACDA) Adjudicated Concert Series, Hattiesburg, MS; selected for the Gala Performance
  • The Body Politic Tour
    An evening length performance with Elizabeth Lentz-Hill—includes Lentz-Hill’s solo My Body Performs, Lester’s solo In Her Clothes, and duet People Issues with an interdisciplinary response. The tour includes the performance and master classes in modern, somatics, and dance theatre (50% in creation of project; 100% in that both performers dance in the full show and engage in the dialogue) Performances include: Mississippi Dance Festival, Hattiesburg, MS, September 2017; Big River Dance Festival, Huntington, WV, September 2017; Fall Dance Festival, Ocean Springs, MS, September 2017; The University of the South, January 2018;Middle Tennessee State University, January 2018;Austin Peay State University, January 2018;University of Memphis, January 2018; Auburn University, March 2018; Chicago, IL self-produced concert, May 2018; Chicago public and private K-12 schools, May 2018; FestivalSouth, Hattiesburg, MS, June 2018
  • Constrained Embrace
    Music: Philip Glass, November 2008, 7 dancers  Restaged at Southeast Regional ACDFA for Adjudicated Concert Series, Murfreesboro, TN, March 2009  Restaged for Dance on the Coast concert, Gulfport, MS, January 2009
  • In Her Clothes
    Music: Gustav Santaoalla, Nadia Sirota, June and August 2015, solo Performances include: BioDance Social Justice and Dance Series, Rochester Fringe Festival, September 2015; Body Politic Tour 2017-18
  • Advanced Certificate in Effective College Instruction
  • Effective College Instruction
  • Certified Evans Teacher
  • Registered Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT)
  • Shin Somatics® Certified Teacher and Trainer
  • Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
  • Preventing Discrimination & Harassment: Employees V2.3
  • Title IX: Preventing Sexual Misconduct for Faculty and Staff – "Responsible Employee" Edition
  • National Dance Education Organization, President-Elect
  • International Somatic Movement and Education Association
  • POD Network

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Areas of Expertise

Somatics, Bill Evans Technique, Choreography, Performance