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Courtney Harris, Associate Professor and Chair of Dance at Virginia Commonwealth University, danced with the Houston Ballet under the directorship of Ben Stevenson. During her tenure in Houston, she had the opportunity to perform a diverse spectrum of roles in many classical and contemporary ballets and worked 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. During the off-season, Harris additionally performed as a guest artist with Carlos Acosta and the Stars of the Houston Ballet and later in her performing career with Seattle-based contemporary choreographers, Wade Madsen and Deborah Wolf.
Harris earned her BFA in Dance from Cornish College of the Arts and MFA from The Ohio State University’s Department of Dance. Her research interests are twofold: the re-framing of ballet’s teaching practices through the lens of critical pedagogies, while also engaging in a creative practice in which feminist and queer discourse are embedded in her art-making. The manifestations of these projects resulted in several collaborative partnerships. Harris and dance accompanist and composer, Michael Wall, published a collection of contemporary accompaniment for the ballet classroom, located on Wall’s website, soundFORmovement.com. Artist, educator, and filmmaker, Charli Brissey, collaborated with Harris to co-direct and produce the screendances Pas, What’s What, Dead Draw, and Left of Canvas. Their films have screened at international dance and LGBTQ festivals, including Dance On Camera at Lincoln Center, Dance Camera West, 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, Boston LGBT Film Festival, the Seattle Transgender Film Festival, the Paris International Lesbian and Feminist Film Festival, the Bangalore Queer Film Festival, the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, and many more. Harris and Brissey also co-directed and produced 20 Rue Jacob, an immersive art installation that incorporated video, sound, and art installations with poetry, modern dance, and drag performance. Harris has also presented her scholarly research at the Image Conference, the International University Global Theater Experience, National Dance Education Organization, and CORPS de Ballet International, where she currently serves on the board.
Photo credit Elli Morris