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Olivia Sabee

Assistant Professor of Dance

Music & Dance


  2. Phone: (610) 328-8237
  3. LPAC 006

Situated at the intersections of literature, history, and dance, my work examines the ways in which eighteenth- and nineteenth-century French ballet asks questions about language and society. I am also particularly interested in the ways in which the publishing industry shaped the dissemination and reception of early modern dance texts and subsequently early modern dance theory. 

I continue to choreograph for Agora Dance, a contemporary dance company co-founded with Catherine Roth and Niko Sommaripa in 2015. 

My teaching spans across all the categories of classes the Dance Program offers and my favorite classes to teach are Carnival Culture: Dance, Music and Drama in Early Modern Europe, Dance in Europe and North America: 19th and 20th Centuries, and ballet technique classes of all levels (especially Ballet 1). 

Before coming to Swarthmore, I earned a high school diploma in Ballet from UNC School of the Arts, a B.A. in French from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in French from Johns Hopkins University. Other early dance training came from Pacific Northwest Ballet School, Cornish College Preparatory Dance Program, and ARC School of Ballet in Seattle. Between 2008 and 2015, I taught ballet in a number of non-academic settings, including the American Dance Institute (MD), CityDance (DC), the Joffrey Academy of Dance, and Lou Conte Dance Studio. 


Selected Articles

“Encyclopedic Definitions: Tracing Ballet from the Encyclopédie to the Gazzetta Urbana Veneta.” Eighteenth-Century Studies 52, no. 3 (2019) [in press].

Théophile Gautier’s Ballet d’Action: Rewriting Dance History through Criticism.” Dance Chronicle 39, no. 2 (2016), pp. 153-73. 

Dancing the Social Contract: The White Divertissement after the French Revolution.” Dance Chronicle 38, no. 1 (2015), pp. 3-26. 

Omission and Inspiration in Noverre’s Lettres sur la danse.” Romance Studies 31, no. 3-4 (2013), pp. 224-37.