Mortality and Teaching

A major resource when I work with a group is the act of summoning the past by conjuring what I’ve learned from my past teachers and dance partners. There is something alchemical in the act of invoking and honoring one’s elders and sources into the room.

When you name your teachers, it creates a lineage. It connects what we are doing today, in this place, to a larger context, to the people doing it through time, and in different parts of the world. When you name your teachers, it links your students to the transmission and gives them more responsibility in their investigation. This also models humility and respect.

Invoking teachers also brings them into the room for their support. This support allows me to stretch my teaching style. And if we invoke someone who has died, it brings a reminder of our mortality and a poignancy into the room and into the work.


Invoking our mortality can be a reminder to the teacher and the students of many things, one being that life is too short to hold back for fear of looking foolish.

1 thought on “Mortality and Teaching

  1. hilary geller

    I have been working with this lately, Martin. I have been invoking a sort of archetype of my major dance teachers. Although I am very far from being able to dance anymore, they give me strength and joy, and connect me to my true self. My true self is in part, made up of everything I have ever learned from these amazing people.


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