UNCG Campus Weekly

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Jill Green receives national honor: Outstanding Dance Researcher Award

Dance is an art, but at UNCG, there is a strong health and wellness component to the research and the teaching within the School of Dance, in part thanks to Dr. Jill Green, professor of dance.

On Nov. 13, Green (center in photo) received the Outstanding Dance Researcher Award from the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO). The award recognized her contribution to the field of dance education and research throughout several decades.

At the conference, she also presented a paper about courses in methodology in MFA programs and, along with two colleagues, a workshop about somatic research and investigation, based on a book they are editing about the topic.

Green’s research and teaching focuses on somatics and “social somatic theory,” a term which she coined,” as well as on body studies, dance education and qualitative research.

“Somatics is the study of the living body from the inside out, or from a first-person perspective,” said Green. “It is about using our proprioceptive sense, or inner body awareness, recognizing how we can locate inefficient movement patterns, and becoming aware of how we learn to move more easily and with less excessive or frozen tension in our bodies.”

Her work also investigates how dance teachers can use somatics to address issues of social justice. In the context of somatics, Green’s research explores body image issues, student-teacher rapport within dance technique classes and dance programs within marginalized communities. Her latest study examines how somatics may help with the side effects of cancer treatment.

Green’s work is published in a number of journals, including Dance Research Journal; Research in Dance Education; Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices; Journal of Dance Education; Arts and Learning; Impulse and Frontiers: Journal of Women’s Studies. She is the recipient of a number of teaching awards and received a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship, allowing her to teach research and somatics, as well as to investigate dance and body studies in Finland. She has been invited to present her research in the United States, Canada, Finland, Taiwan, South Africa, Brazil and Japan.

“For me, research is a creative process, not completely different from the choreographic process,” she said. “Most of my students come to class afraid of doing research because they may not have been exposed to it before. Yet, I am always encouraged to see their work by the end of the second semester.”

Green has been pleased with her students’ success in presenting their papers to conferences and journals. She noted that two former students received Best Paper awards from NDEO. She is also pleased that she can bring the study of somatics to UNCG student dancers and future dance educators.

“Somatics helps students take care of their bodies and prevent injury,” she said. “And learning about social somatic theory helps students use somatics as a way to help others and address social and political issues.”

At the recent conference, Green appreciated the opportunity to have conversations with other dance researchers and educators, and to be recognized for her contributions.

“It is always meaningful to be acknowledged by colleagues in the field,” she said. “This award represents the growth of the field and a wave of scholarship from a new generation practicing and writing about somatics in dance.”

By Susan Kirby-Smith
Photograph by Amy Masters