Jessica Zeller holds a Ph.D. in Dance Studies and an MFA in Dance from The Ohio State University, and a bachelor’s degree in Dance/Arts Administration from Butler University. She is the author of Shapes of American Ballet: Teachers and Training before Balanchine (Oxford University Press, 2016), which unearths the work of several European and Russian ballet pedagogues during the pre-Balanchine era in the United States. Zeller’s research into nineteenth and twentieth century ballet pedagogies and lineages has been published in Dance Chronicle and in the Oxford University Press anthology Dance on Its Own Terms: Histories and Methodologies. Zeller currently serves on the Dance Chronicle advisory board and the CORPS de Ballet, International board of directors.
A New York native and student of Maggie Black, Rochelle Zide-Booth, and Jan Hanniford Goetz, Zeller’s studio teaching makes reference to their work and is complemented by her research into ballet’s national styles and pedagogies. Zeller has danced several works from the ballet canon—most notably the role of Giselle, the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, and the Act I pas de trois in Swan Lake. She has danced in Bebe Miller’s work, as a guest artist with the Indianapolis Opera, with project-based companies in New York City, and at the American Cabaret Theatre, where she collaborated with singers, actors, dramaturges, and musicians. She was on the ballet faculty of the BalletMet Dance Academy in Columbus, Ohio, before joining the faculty at TCU in 2012.
Credit: S(he) Sylph, Courtney Harris, 2010. Photo: Melissa Bontempo.