The Ten Sins of a Contact Improvisation Teacher

(Luckily, not mortal)

  1. Not speaking loudly enough for everyone to hear.
  2. Complaining about not having enough time.
  3. Saying, “This can’t be put into words”.
  4. Codifying the material.
  5. Not accepting their own authority.
  6. Having too much enthusiasm, and too little substance.
  7. Not taking care of their own needs and boundaries.
  8. Pushing too hard on a student who is in stasis.
  9. Shaming a student in front of the class.
  10. Letting their own process of inquiry die.

4 thoughts on “The Ten Sins of a Contact Improvisation Teacher

  1. Daniel Mang

    Maybe the most fundamental failure of a teacher would be: not being grown up enough to be a teacher.
    Grown up meaning, having dealt with the worst of your faults, or at least knowing about them enough for your particular brand of craziness not get too much in the way of the teaching; being able to see and care about what your students need.

    Another way of naming this failing would be: Using the appreciation you receive from students to fill a void, fix a fault, within yourself. By being funny, being seductive, inviting students to admire you.
    Instead of caring for yourself and getting support from peers.

  2. keith

    Sins! Other than the title I appreciate this list. It’s deceptively simple. Complaining about not having enough time – I have to really pay attention to this – despite knowing that I don’t like it when others do it – so thanks for the reminder. Daniel – I appreciate your comments as well but as someone who uses “charisma” as part of my public persona and teaching, I am a little troubled by the idea that teachers shouldn’t be funny or seductive. My emotional/relational integrity with students is both transparent and well-boundaried, and I use humor, charisma, seduction in various ways to create a generous and open atmosphere of learning. My teaching is intentionally resonant with, or not distinct from, my performance practice where issues of integrity, audience, charisma, power and ritual are actively engaged.

  3. Daniel Mang

    @ Keith Hennessy

    I really like your teaching, as far as I know it, Keith, I think it’s brilliant.

    I don’t think teachers shouldn’t be funny. That would be quite sad… No, I propose the goal of working towards not using the appreciation we receive from students to fill a void, fix a fault, within ourselves. Being funny, making people laugh at you appreciatively, was meant to be just one example of what “getting appreciation” is supposed to mean. I have no issues with teachers receiving appreciation from students. We need appreciation and I think it would be good if we asked for it more openly and more often. I take issue with teachers being dependent on students’ appreciation to get their ego fix because I think this is not safe for some students, and not good for the personal development of the teacher, either. About being seductive and inviting people to admire you, I would say it depends. Playing with seduction and admiration in a creative way that contributes to the learning atmosphere is great, unconsciously acting out domination and being addicted to getting contact newbies to desire and admire you is not.


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