Sheila A. Ward African diaspora dance, modern dance, dance kinesiology and movement science, Public Health and dance

Sheila Ward
Photo Credit: Gabriel Bienczycki


Sheila A. Ward
Richmond, VA 23223
Email Address:


Sheila A. Ward is Co-Director of and performs professionally with Eleone Dance Theatre of Philadelphia, PA and certified instructors for both the Umfundalai African Dance Technique and the Katherine Dunham Dance Technique. She is presently a tenured Professor in the Department of Health, Physical Education and Exercise Science at Norfolk State University. Integration of her degrees in exercise physiology, epidemiology/public health, and dance serve as the foundation to promote, ‘Health Empowerment through Cultural Awareness,’ the guiding principle from which she conducts scholarly and community activities related to chronic disease prevention and management and African Diaspora dance for health and wellness. She is a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), a Registered Kinesiotherapist, and a licensed Pre-K-12 Virginia Educator with endorsements in Dance Arts, Health and Physical Education, and Health and Medical Sciences. She has received grant funding, lectured, published, and presented extensively on the community, state, regional, and international levels on the role of physical activity in the lives of African Americans and chronic disease prevention and management through exercise and dance. She has conducted over 46 dance arts-in-education K-12 residencies throughout the states of Virginia and Delaware, and the City of Philadelphia, PA. She began dancing in the Richmond Public Schools training with Mr. Robert Permberton, Jr. and Mr. Rodney Williams. She performed and trained with The Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco) and Philadanco II. She studied, trained, and performed with Baba Chuck Davis through the 2005 Cultural Arts Safari in the Gambia and Senegal, West Africa. She presented and studied in the West Indies, with cultural excursions in ‘pan’ and ‘capoeira’ and other community experiences in Trinidad and Tobago. Dr. Kariamu Welsh, progenitor of the Umfundalai African Technique, served as her Mwalimu (mentor) through the Umfundalai certification process. At Indiana University, she was a member of the African American Dance Company and the IU Dance Theater. Dr. Ward was featured in the magazines, Dance Teacher Now, which highlighted multiple careers of dancers, and Upscale Magazine, which highlighted the use of African Dance for health. She has involved the use of dance to promote health and well-being throughout her career in the realm of empowering health programming and educating persons throughout the lifespan about the rich culture of the African Diaspora, inclusive of African Americans.

Educational Background/Training

  • Indiana University, Bloomington, IN  B.S.  Physical Education & Dance
  • Temple University, Philadelphia, PA  M.Ed  Exercise Physiology
  • Temple University, Philadelphia, PA  Ph.D. Exercise Physiology
  • Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, VA MPH Epidemiology
  • Virginia Department of Health, Practicum, Diabetes Control Project
  • Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Administration Medical Center, Richmond, VA Health Professions Traineeship, Kinesiotherapy
  • Pre-K-12 Virginia Licensure, endorsements in Health and Physical Education, Dance Arts, and Health and Medical Sciences
  • The Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco) and Philadanco II
  • Eleone Dance Theatre, Philadelphia, PA
  • Cultural Arts Safari 2005, Banjul, Gambia and Dakar, Senegal, West Africa, Facilitators: Baba Chuck Davis and Mama Rahkiah Abdurahman
  • Community Cultural Excursions, International Sport and Physical Education Convention, The Trinidad & Tobago Alliance for Sport & Physical Education (TTASPE), University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad
  • Umfundalai African Dance Technique and Philosophy, Organization of Umfundalai Teachers, National Association of American African Dance Teachers
  • Katherine Dunham Technique and Philosophy, Institute for Dunham Technique Certification (IDTC)


Hourly - $200 – 250; Daily – $600 – 800
Lecture Demonstration $500

Staff Training/Professional Development starting at $1000 (varies based on non-profit/corporation status, participants, etc.)

Travel, per diem, and accommodations require additional cost


For almost two decades, I’ve conducted extended dance residencies in K-12 school settings and worked with a myriad of populations including those with physical, mental, visual, hearing, and emotional impairments. I also work in collegiate and community settings and with arts organizations.  My work with special populations includes hands-on, staff training on incorporating dance for health workshops, research, consultation, and practitioner:  cystic fibrosis, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, cardiovascular, developmental disabilities, emotional disabilities, adult/elderly populations. 

Community, corporate, and district-wide school administrators, staff, and employee interactive training on the arts and public health integration, diversity, equity and inclusion, and health equity.

Pre-professional and professional dance artists’ curriculum development and implementation

Educational Programs

  • All services, consultation, workshops, residencies, lectures, or coaching, are available and I currently provide them to schools, arts organizations, and community groups as well as corporations.

    General Student Workshops include several topics such as: 

    • From Africa to Hip HopResidency
    • The Katherine Dunham Technique and Philosophy Residency
    • Umfundalai African Dance Technique and Philosophy Residency
    • Dance and Dance Science Presentations
    • Masterclass and/or Lecture Demonstration with a question and answer period
    • “Why We Dance” – an interactive lecture format presentation that explores the social implications of dance in our culture
    • “Current Issues Affecting Today’s Dancers” is an open dialogue that discusses such issues as eating disorders, weight management, body image, etc.
    • “Life After a Performing Dance Artists” explores careers that complement and supplement dancers during and after their performing dancer careers.

    Teacher Workshops:  Discusses the role of the educator in promoting the arts, incorporating the arts into the curriculum, and nurturing artistic talents.  Other topics may also be developed.

    Pre-Residency Planning includes determining on-site studio/rehearsal time, public activities, and setting residency objectives that meet the needs of the school’s, arts organization’s, or community group’s arts curricula and instruction

    Post Residency Evaluation will be determined by the fulfillment of pre residency requirements.

    Staff Training Workshops: Enables staff at senior centers, adult day centers, residential disability facilities to incorporate dance as a physical activity for health and wellness

    Administrator and/or employee workshops for dance arts integration in public health for public health programming and practitioners; innovative diversity, equity, and inclusion, and health equity workshops.

    Professional Development Workshops: Discusses the role of the educator in promoting the arts, incorporating the arts into the curriculum, and nurturing artistic talents.

    Provide workshops for pre-professional and professional dance artists, including the ‘Functional Anatomy Dance Series’ develop for certification candidates in both the Umfundalai African Dance Technique and the Katherine Dunham Dance Technique. Other topics may also be developed.