Michael J. Morris, PhD

Choreographer, performer, scholar, teacher, and witch



I am a choreographer, performer, scholar, teacher, and a witch. I am currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at Denison University where I teach in the Department of Dance, Environmental Studies, Queer Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies. My research emerges from interdisciplinary sympoiesis—or creating together—moving promiscuously across and between disciplines in order to examine and theorize issues such as ecosexualities in performance, movement practices as posthuman ethics, kinesthetic kinship as a strategy for mitigating climate change, the pedagogical potential of feminist and queer pornography, transgender histories, and rhetorical strategies within transgender communities. Whether in choreography, performance, writing, or teaching, I am invested in examining the conditions through which bodies are made to live and pursuing how to make embodied life more livable for more forms of life.

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My choreographic and performance work has been presented at universities, galleries, community spaces, theaters, bars and nightclubs, films, domestic spaces, and most recently the Wexner Center for the Arts. My writing appears in The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Theater, TDR: The Drama Review, Choreographic Practices, Dance Chronicle, and the European Journal of Ecopsychology. I hold a PhD in Dance Studies from The Ohio State University, and I completed my 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training at the Laughing Lotus Yoga Center in San Francisco. My current work focuses on witchcraft as feminist resistance and dance as ritual, magic, and healing.

Q & A

What makes more livable futures for you?  

For me, more livable futures are made when difference is recognized as a limitless, generative resource. In order to cultivate conditions in which more lives might live well, justice must be characterized by always asking of each life and form of life, “What is it that you need?” knowing that we can never fully know in advance what will be good for every life. Intuition, mystery, art, and magic will be valued alongside and in reciprocity with reason, knowledge, and science. We will understand that personal healing and collective liberation are inseparable. We will develop profound sensitivity to the subtle in order to mitigate our current epoch of escalating extremity. The human will finally be understood as part of and not separate from the nonhuman and the earth. We will accept our own non-innocence—a term that comes from Donna Haraway—and practice accountability, responsibility, and right-relation to all that has come before and all that is yet to come. Gender and sexuality will be irreducible to one or two. As the Combahee River Collective wrote, “If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression.” Livable futures will become possible when we work from intersectional analyses of systems that did not develop to enable our survival. We must listen to the wisdom of those who are made most marginal and precarious—Black women, transgender women of color, more-than-human lives—if we are to develop cultural practices that do not depend upon domination, exploitation, or repression.

What are you reading, viewing, listening to right now?    

Right now, I’m reading adrienne maree brown’s Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good, Alexis Pauline Gumbs’ M Archive: After the End of the World, Silvia Federici’s Witches, Witch-Hunting, and Women, Anna Halprin’s Making Dances That Matter: Resources for Community Creativity, Gabrielle Civil’s Experiments in Joy, Sabrina Scott’s witchbody, Toni Cade Bambara’s The Salt Eaters, and Demetra George’s Ancient Astrology in theory and Practice: A Manual of Traditional Techniques

I’m listening to several podcasts: How To Survive the End of the World with adrienne maree brown and Autumn Brown, Bespoken Bones with Pavini Moray, Healing Justice Podcast with Kate Werning, and The Astrology Podcast with Chris Brennan. 


Because I am currently teaching a course entitled Dancing Into Worlds to Come: The Poethics of 20th and 21st Modern and Postmodern Dance, I'm spending a lot of time watching videos of dances this semester. In the last few weeks, I've watched dances by Yvonne Rainer, Meredith Monk, Eiko and Koma, Bill T. Jones, Bebe Miller, Elizabeth Streb, and Faye Driscoll. 

What practices are sustaining you?  

Yoga—as an ancient system of philosophy and practice with its roots in India and other parts of South Asia—has been a sustaining part of my life for nearly 20 years. Observing the movements of the planets and developing meaning through astrology—another ancient practice with its roots in Mesopotamia, North Africa, and the Mediterranean—has become a daily practice for me, looking outside of myself to understand more about my life and my place in the world by examining my situation in a universe that is much more than human. I read tarot as a way of engaging my intuitive faculties and cultivating a practice of nonlinear meaning-making; lately I've been reading with The Shining Tribe Tarot by Rachel Pollack and The Delta Enduring Tarot by Egan. Meditating with rocks and tea are ways of cultivating intimate relationships with stillness, breath, and the more-than-human; this year, I’ve been spending a lot of time sitting with orthoceras fossils and dandelion root tea. Witchcraft, ritual, and ceremony are ways of attuning myself to the cycles of the seasons, practicing reverence and gratitude for the sacred connections between all living things, and shifting consciousness at will—all of which sustain me in a culture of hyper-individualism and extractive productivity. Physical intimacy and vigilant boundaries around my sleep are sustaining practices for me as well.