Greetings friends and colleagues!

I write to you with our invigorating 2022 conference, “Fairies, Queens, and Cavaliers: Ballet’s Production and Disruption of Gender,” still lingering in recent memory. Envisioned and expertly curated by Past President Courtney Harris, our first hybrid conference was an extraordinary event. CORPS is incredibly fortunate to be in the Presidential wakes of both Harris and Anjali Austin, who has completed her term as Past President and Chair of the Planning and Development Committee. At the helm during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Austin pioneered our initial virtual conference model, ushering us with great care into a new era that will likely be part of CORPS conferences well into the future. She spearheaded an important new direction for CORPS as well: initiating an essential line of inquiry into equity and social justice that Harris has continued to expand over the last two years. Please join me in thanking Anjali and Courtney! Our organization is stronger because of their leadership.

Jessica Zeller Head Shot

It is my pleasure to announce the details of the 2023 conference, The State of the Institution(s): CORPS de Ballet International at 25. Reflecting on the work of the last 25 years, acknowledging those who’ve made CORPS what it is today, and envisioning our future as an organization will be highlights of this year’s conference. Over three days in June, we’ll consider the current state of Ballet and Higher Education—the institutions upon which CORPS was founded. The full conference schedule, once announced, will be available here.

The CORPS Board has determined that this 25th anniversary conference is an appropriate time for a 25th anniversary celebration, which we’ll hold in lieu of a Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony. With guest panels and curated events, adjudicated research presentations, shared choreographic works, and opportunities for member engagement in elections and membership meetings, this CORPS conference will offer opportunities for critical inquiry, network-building, and the camaraderie that CORPS members value as an essential component of annual conferences.

As I mentioned during the 2022 conference in Richmond, I’ve been considering all possible formats for 2023 as CORPS will continue to respond to the current moment and our needs as an organization. I have taken your generous feedback to heart; prioritizing the community-building, diverse perspectives and knowledges, and personal connections that members have come to appreciate most from CORPS.

The 2023 conference, in this light, will be held virtually. This decision was not easy, but necessary. With shifting economic contexts, diminishing institutional support for member research and travel, as well as the reality that virtual conferences make CORPS’ offerings more accessible, equitable, and safer, I am hopeful that spending this coming year online will allow us to maximize possibilities for participation. As pushing a fully “back-to-normal” approach can double-down on existing inequities, I am seeking instead a “new normal” for CORPS; informed by the contributions of our most recent past presidents, the wisdom and generosity of the membership, and the growing support network of educational innovators working to develop meaningful, relevant virtual and hybrid experiences.

Conference events will take place June 14-16, 2023, and I hope you’ll plan to join us by saving those dates in your calendars now. We’re in the process of updating the CORPS website, so please keep checking back for updated registration details. Keep your eyes peeled for our new “Étoile” conference rate, designed specifically for retired CORPS members who have served a minimum of six years in a Board or Officer position. In an effort to acknowledge the years of service that many of our longtime members have given to CORPS, the Board and I are hopeful that this rate will support the continued participation of many of our founding and longest-serving members as they shift out of full-time positions in academia.

Please know that as an all-volunteer organization, the CORPS leadership is doing our best on behalf of the membership to fulfill our mission and objectives as we envision what’s possible going forward. A huge THANK YOU to the Board for their support, and to everyone who has generously offered their time and expertise to keep CORPS de Ballet International a vital, robust organization for the last 25 years. I hope to see you in 2023!


Jessica Zeller, President
CORPS de Ballet International

JUNE 2021

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

I’m thrilled to announce details about CORPS de Ballet International’s 23rd annual conference, Suspended in Grand Renversé: Embracing the “Big Upset” and Ballet’s Relationship to Liberatory Practices.

CORPS is honored to host Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson, the co-Founders and co-Artistic Directors of Complexions Contemporary Ballet, will both teach contemporary ballet classes and will also be joined by founding member of Complexions, Christina Johnson, in a discussion about NIQUE, the official training methodology of Complexions Contemporary Ballet that combines the values of classical and modern Western traditions. I’m also thrilled to announce that dance writer and curator, Theresa Ruth Howard, will join us to discuss her notable archival project, MoBBallet: Curating the Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet. And finally, artist and educator, Scott Putman, will provide restorative body care by sharing his somatic methodology, the Elemental Body Alignment System (EBAS), a structural reeducation practice that beautifully translates to ballet training.

This year, CORPS posthumously recognizes Mr. Louis Johnson as our 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree. Mr. Johnson’s legacy reflects his innumerable influences and resounding impact within ballet and the arts. At the LAA event, we will also recognize a CORPS member for their Outstanding Service to the organization and Jarrett Crowthers, the Basil Thompson Memorial Scholarship awardee who hails from the Department of Theatre and Dance at Ball State University.

And finally, I’m very much looking forward to the adjudicated member presentations, all of which exemplify the theme of this conference and underscore the Memberships’ urgency and dedication to reckoning with ballet’s necessary evolution. To learn more, please peruse the “Events and Presentations” tab on the CORPS website.

I hope you will join the CORPS community this July for our virtual conference. I look forward to learning in community with you!


Warmest regards,

Courtney Harris
President, CORPS de Ballet International, Inc.


Dear CORPS Friends, Colleagues, and Visitors,

I hope this extraordinary time is allowing you to reflect on the important work you do each and every day, as well as recenter your intentions and commitments for the coming year.

I thank you for your patience in announcing many details about the upcoming CORPS conference, Suspended in Grand Renversé: Embracing the “Big Upset” and Ballet’s Relationship to Liberatory Practices scheduled July 6-9, 2021.

As shared at the most recent conference this past July, the event I had been planning was derailed due to the global pandemic. It became necessary to reconceptualize the 2021 conference theme and once again, move the event to a virtual platform in order to ensure the health and safety of our members, guests, families and communities. Many more details will be shared in the coming months, but I feel certain shifting course and re-writing the conference allows us to be present, thoughtful, and responsive to this time.

I continue to have immense faith in what dance, the moving body, has to teach us. Our practices as dancers, artists, educators, and scholars cultivates a process of unlearning, learning, and relearning in a beautiful cycle of unearthing, regeneration, and shapeshifting that allows us to encounter ourselves and our experiences of the world anew. The thoughtful work you do matters and reverberates outward. I will always assert that the world is a better place because of dancers and CORPS de Ballet International is a critical voice that contributes to this larger conversation.

As we move into 2021, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the CORPS community and thank you for the honor to co-lead our organization in ways that allows us, as an organization, to press up against our growing edge together.


Warmest regards,

Courtney Harris
President, CORPS de Ballet International, Inc.
Chair, Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Dance and Choreography