Courtney Harris

Interim Chair

Courtney Harris Photo: Elli Morris

Courtney Harris is delighted to serve VCU Dance and the School of the Arts since 2011. Her professional career began at the Houston Ballet, where she danced under the directorship of Ben Stevenson from 1993-1999. During her tenure in Houston, she had the opportunity to perform a diverse spectrum of roles in many classical and contemporary ballets and work with several renowned choreographers, including Jiří Kylián, Christopher Bruce, Trey McIntyre, and Stanton Welch. Some of her favorite roles include Odette/Odile from Stevenson’s Swan Lake and Manon from Sir Kenneth McMillan’s Manon. Harris additionally performed as a guest artist with Carlos Acosta and the Stars of the Houston Ballet, as well as Seattle-based modern dance choreographers Wade Madsen and Deborah Wolf. Additionally, Harris is a 1993 Presidential Scholar of the Arts awardee and was presented with a honorary medal by President Clinton.

Harris earned her MFA from The Ohio State University’s Department of Dance, while also receiving a minor in pedagogy through the Graduate Interdisciplinary Specialization in College and University Teaching. She has been recognized for her teaching through OSU’s prestigious Graduate Associate Teaching Award, which is presented annually to ten Graduate Associates campus-wide. Prior to her graduate studies, Harris served as Adjunct Professor at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle and as Visiting Faculty at the University of Washington. In recent years, she has joined the teaching faculty at The American Dance Festival in Durham. A certified Pilates instructor, Harris has enjoyed working with a wide range of clientele over the years, from trained athletes and dancers to those with physical disabilities.

Harris’ research integrates creative and scholarly practices in the field, specifically questioning ballet’s training methodologies through the lens of progressive pedagogies and incorporating queer and feminist discourse. She has presented her research “Classical Ballet Technique: The Inclusive Dance” and “Re-imagining the Sylph: Extending, Reinstating, and Subverting La Sylphide” at CORPS de Ballet International’s annual conferences. Harris and Martha Curtis, VCU Dance Professor and colleague, co-authored and presented their paper “Colliding Cultures: What Can We Learn from the Intersection of Diverging Dance Pedagogies?” at the National Dance Education Organization. Since her relocation to Richmond, Harris has forged a collaborative relationship with Charli Brissey, a dancer, choreographer, and filmmaker with an MFA from VCU’s Kinetic Imaging department. Their films have screened at national and international dance and LGBTQ festivals, such as Dance On Camera at Lincoln Center, Dance Camera West, Sans Sousi International Festival of Dance Cinema in Boulder, Dance: Film in Scotland, Loikka Dance Film Festival in Helsinki, the International Screendance Festival at the American Dance Festival, Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival, the Seattle International LGBT Film Festival, the Chicago LGBT International Film Festival, the Washington DC Independent Film Festival, Boston LGBT Film Festival, The Seattle Transgender Film Festival, the Olympia Film Society Pride Film Fest, the Paris International Lesbian and Feminist Film Festival, the Bangalore Queer Film Festival, the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, AVAYAVA Dance Film in India, the London Lesbian Film Festival, and many more. Most recently, Harris and Brissey directed and produced 20 Rue Jacob, an immersive art installation event that incorporated video, sound, art installations, modern dance, drag, poetry, and written text. Additionally, Harris and dance accompanist and composer, Michael Wall, combined their expertise to publish a collection of contemporary accompaniment for the ballet classroom, located on Wall’s website, Harris is a 2013-2014 Virginia Commission for the Arts Fellowship Recipient. Her creative work has been additionally supported through the Arch Bruce and Brown Foundation and Yellowhouse NYC.

In addition to her creative work, Harris is an active member of CORPS de Ballet International, currently serving on the Board as the Treasurer.

Teaching areas include: Ballet Technique, Pointe, Pilates, Pedagogy, and Dance History.