What a Difference a Year Makes: Making a Case for Examining Subtext as a Basis of Liberatory Practice in Ballet; Or, Sometimes a Tendu isn’t Just a Tendu

Presenter: Molly Faulkner, Professor of Dance Palomar College; Julia Gleich, Instructor Peridance Capezio Center


When teaching ballet, what else are you teaching? What should you be teaching? How can the implicit be shaped into liberation and agency for the students? And how has this year shaped our subtexts as teachers? 

Foucault defines liberation as the practice of freedom and freedom as, “The care for the self” (in Viriasova 74), Marshall goes on to say there is “no escape from power into freedom” (in Baker 3) and “to exercise freedom it must not be in tutelage” (Ibid. 269). 

hooks, states, “To teach in a manner that respects and cares for the souls of our students is essential if we are to provide the necessary conditions where learning can most deeply and intimately begin…” (hooks, 1994).

Love calls for abolitionist teaching, focussing on intersectionality and mattering.  “Mattering is essential in that you must matter enough to yourself, to your students, and to your students’ community to fight” (Love 45).

Three seemingly disparate theorists highlight the need for the examination of subtext in teaching, forcing us to consider the role of tutelage in liberatory practices.  


Using Foucault, hooks and Love as theoretical underpinnings, this idea-generating workshop allows participants to examine and engage their own subtexts. The hope is to consider this year of change, its short and long-term impacts on ballet pedagogy, and begin to create new liberatory frameworks.


Molly Faulkner

Molly Faulkner is a Professor of Dance at Palomar College in San Marcos, California. She currently directs the Palomar College Contemporary Dance Ensemble. She has her Ph.D. from Texas Woman’s University, her Master of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa, and her Bachelor of Fine Arts. from the University of Arizona. She has danced professionally with Ballet Arizona, Arizona Dance Theatre, Empire State Ballet, Tokyo Disneyland, and her students are most impressed that she was the Muppet Grover on an International Tour of Sesame St. Live. She has taught and choreographed across the US, and Sweden and is master teacher and choreographer for Burklyn Ballet Theatre in Vermont, mentoring the Young Choreographers Showcase. Her research on the connections between leadership skills and ballet was chosen for presentation at Corps de Ballet International conference in Baltimore Maryland, and for the Royal Academy of Dance conference in Sydney, Australia. Ms. Faulkner and collaborator Julia Gleich’s research on contemporary ballet first presented for the Society for Dance History Scholars conference in NYC in 2016, “Dancing into the Margins: Karole Armitage, Bronislava Nijinska and Their Philosophies of (A Contemporary) Ballet” has been selected for inclusion in Oxford Handbook for Contemporary Ballet. Her current research with Ms. Gleich, “Should There Be A Female Ballet Canon: Seven Radical Acts of Inclusion” will be part of an anthology for Intellect Books entitled (Re)Claiming Ballet.  


Julia Gleich

Julia K. Gleich is a Brooklyn-based contemporary ballet choreographer and teacher with over 25 years experience in Higher Education Dance starting in the USA at the University of Utah and Manhattanville College, then 15 years in the UK at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, and London Studio Centre as Head of Choreography. She was the recipient of an Arts Council England Grant in 2013, a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Utah 2014, a Choreographer Observership with English National Ballet 2016, and produces the annual CounterPointe program for Norte Maar in Brooklyn now in its 8th year. She writes about dance and ballet with colleague Molly Faulkner: forthcoming chapters in the Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Ballet, and an anthology for Intellect (Re)Claiming Ballet. Julia teaches ballet at Peridance Capezio Center. Julia is a partner with Jason Andrew, in Artist Estate Studio, LLC, managing inventories archives for artist estates and studios including The Elizabeth Murray Trust. Her company, Gleich Dances, has received critical notice in the New York Times, Village Voice, Brooklyn Rail, New Criterion and dancelog.com. She has worked across the US, in Europe, Japan, and Hong Kong as a choreographer and teacher.