Jessica Zeller

Associate Professor of Dance
Classical & Contemporary Dance
Erma Lowe Hall 219 | 817-257-6170

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Ph.D., Dance Studies, Ohio State University
MFA, Dance, Ohio State University
BS, Dance/Arts Administration, Butler University

Courses Taught

Ballet Technique (all levels)
Teaching Methods: Ballet
Dance History
Dance Theory
Junior/Senior Honors Thesis

Areas of Focus

Ballet Pedagogy, Philosophies of Education, Dance History, Romantic and Classical Ballet Repertoire

Jessica Zeller is an Associate Professor of Dance in the TCU School for Classical & Contemporary Dance. She holds a Ph.D. in Dance Studies and an MFA in Dance from The Ohio State University, and she received her BS in Dance/Arts Administration from Butler University. Zeller 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 early twentieth century. Her research has been published in Dance Chronicle, the Journal of Dance Education, the Society for Dance History Scholars’ publication Conversations Across the Field of Dance Studies, and in the Oxford University Press anthology Dance on Its Own Terms: Histories and Methodologies. Now bringing ballet into conversation with progressive pedagogical approaches and philosophies of embodiment, Zeller’s current research has taken a contemporary turn toward the study and teaching of dance in the twenty-first century. In 2018 she received the TCU Deans’ Teaching Award, and in 2019 she was a Scholar-in-Residence in the Department of Dance at Temple University. Zeller currently serves as a reviewer for Oxford University Press and the Journal of Dance Education, and she is on the board of CORPS de Ballet, International.

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 on critical and progressive pedagogies. In performance, Zeller has danced several works from the ballet canon—most notably the role of Giselle, the Sugar Plum Fairy, and the Act I pas de trois and the Act II Cygnets pas de quatre 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.

Learn more about Jessica Zeller’s work at

Forthcoming book chapter: Zeller, Jessica. “‘Can you feel it?: Pioneering Pedagogies that Challenge Ballet’s Authoritarian Traditions.” In (re:)claiming ballet. Edited by Adesola Akinleye. Intellect Books. 2021.

Monograph: Zeller, Jessica. Shapes of American Ballet: Teachers and Training before Balanchine. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Book chapter: Zeller, Jessica. “Developing the American Ballet Dancer: The Pedagogical Lineage of Rochelle Zide-Booth.” In Dance on its Own Terms: Histories and Methodologies. Edited by Karen Eliot and Melanie Bales. 283-304. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Journal article: Zeller, Jessica. “On Dance Pedagogy and Embodiment.” Conversations Across the Field of Dance Studies 38. Society of Dance History Scholars (2017): 17-20.

Journal article: Zeller, Jessica. “Reflective Practice in the Ballet Class: Bringing Progressive Pedagogy to the Classical Tradition.” Journal of Dance Education 17.3 (2017): 99-105.

Journal article: Zeller, Jessica. “Luigi Albertieri: Bringing Italian Traditions to American Ballet.” Dance Chronicle 38.1 (2015): 55-80.

Zeller, Jessica. “In the Liminal Space: Pedagogy at the Intersection of our Ideals and our Humanity.” Presented in the Colloquium Series in the Center for the Humanities at Temple (CHAT), as part of the Scholar-in-Residence Program in the Department of Dance at Temple University. November 12, 2019. Philadelphia, PA.

Zeller, Jessica. “Fiery Tempers and Pocket Violins: Italian Ballet Pedagogues in Turn-of-the-Century America.” Panel presentation at the CORPS de Ballet, International annual conference. Florence, Italy. July 2018.

Zeller, Jessica. “Tradition and Innovation: Dance Manuals and Ballet Training in Early Twentieth Century America.” CORPS de Ballet, International annual conference, Provo, UT. June 2017.

Zeller, Jessica. Opening remarks at Maggie Black Memorial event (February 2016; New York City Center Studios; Maggie Black Memorial Planning Committee, sponsor).

Zeller, Jessica. “Destabilizing the Dance Studies Classroom with Constructivist Pedagogy OR Starting the Semester Without a Syllabus: My Experience Teaching ‘Dance Theory.’” CORPS de Ballet, International annual conference, Pittsburgh, PA. June 2014.


Member, CORPS de Ballet, International

Member, Dance Studies Association

Member, Society of Dance History Scholars (2007-2017)

Oxford University Press: Peer Reviewer

Journal of Dance Education: Review Board

CORPS de Ballet, International: Board member, Co-Chair of the Archives and History Committee