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Failure Institute

Failure Collective

Collective Failure


Make bad work better together



Too much like the Target logo

Pilot Year Launch!

Last year's pilot year was so successful, we've decided to keep it going.

Too much pink text?

Dance. Write. Draw. Act. Think. Design. Film.

Whatever your medium, there’s a place for you to fail here.

August 12-16, 2024

The University of Texas at Austin


Creativity is neither efficient nor solitary. It is collective and wasteful, full of frustrating failures, dead ends, and successful ideas that come from non-experts. This workshop is all about real creativity.

Come to a place where you will don your non-expert hat, seriously engage impossible problems you dream up with other people, and talk about failure like it’s the most reliably recurring part of your life thus far.

Why? Because these practices just might be the most useful ones to bet on if you ever (really) want to succeed… or even be happier than you were two days ago. [No promises though. This is a workshop that celebrates failure, after all.]

Video about Failure Collective.

It’s from 2023, but it’s still accurate.  Except for the dates. 


Once you’re here, failure is free. But you must help in some way. (Details provided upon acceptance.)

Age Limits:
If you’re over 18 and under 118, you’re in! 

Anyone committed to failure is welcome, no matter your primary area of “expertise” and skill level. If you need help cultivating your inner failure and fully realizing your capacity to make bad work/ideas, c’mon down!

Please note:

  • This is a second pilot year for this program, which means we’ll all be learning to fly the plane as we build it. Thrilling! Maddening! Failure-bound!!!
  • We cannot assist with travel and lodging at this time.
  • Space is limited. Please wait to receive confirmation of your spot before making travel arrangements. 




Everyone is already accepted, but you still must apply by July 29, 2024.


The Aftermath of 2023


“Since the Failure Collective I have been more comfortable sitting in a place of not knowing what is going on. In my work…there are a lot of times that I just have to keep moving forward, figure out the trajectory of the project as it happens rather than making a plan ahead of time. I am taking more time to appreciate the process and notice my gut instincts. I am learning to appreciate the uncomfortable parts of the creative process!” –Lucia C.



“[F]ailure has become a giant anchor of my thought and awareness since the workshop. Apparently I struggle with that concept a lot and I was not naming it and taking it into account. I have been working on developing a friendship with that fear…” –Amanda K.


“My favorite… was playing with others!!!! This was different than just doing a fun activity with other people (though I also enjoy that). Having the chance to problem solve and create with others, without any pressure of getting it right was amazing!!!! In one week, I did so many things that I would normally shy away from, especially with complete strangers, and it was exhilarating. Like, how did most of the things we created even come to be???? Thank you for creating a container where this could happen. I believe it was partly possible, because everyone was so invested. But also, it takes a skilled facilitator to create a space where something magical can happen.” –Danielle C.


About Leah

Photo credit: Jim Lafferty

My name is Leah Cox. I am middle-aged, I live in Austin, Texas, and I have two kids. They are on the younger side. My aspirational home project is to rebalance the mud to grass ratio in my yard.

I teach (mostly dance and dance-related courses) at the University of Texas at Austin. I like teaching.

Most of the time.

I usually include the following name drops in my bio so people trust I know what I’m doing: dancer with Liz Lerman on her latest project, Wicked Bodies; former Dean of the American Dance Festival; formerly on faculty at Bard College; former dancer and education director for the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company.

Failure credits: I made a lot of material as a professional dancer that graces the cutting room floor, and I can recall at least two instances of falling onstage when I wasn’t supposed to. One was at Lincoln Center. Teaching-wise, some of the students who found fault with my courses let me know about it in detail. I’m sure there are others who figured it wasn’t worth their time to tell me what they really thought of me as an educator. I am sure I routinely fail at parenting, but I chalk that up to giving my kids grit, tolerance for the shortcomings of others, and a real reason or two to go to therapy when they are old enough to pay for it.

I am not an expert in visual art, writing, or psychology, but I dabble in all of those and inconsistently incorporate them into my classes, dancemaking, and life.

My current failure passion project is the dance I’m making with George Staib, titled Group Therapy (intake session). It’s a solo with no imperative to make money or receive funding. But we are enjoying ourselves.

I am acquainted with the failure that hurts and the kind that you laugh about later. Like the time I split the butt seam in my costume in the middle of a duet and my partner had to keep seeing THAT image until we went offstage. I guess that’s more like misfortune, though.

My life has been full of all kinds of failure thus far. For the most part, I look forward to future failure endeavors (some of them will hurt). I hope I’ll find more folks who fancy living in a world blessed by failures resuscitated into unimagined creative works. That’s my idea of living large.


© Copyright 2024 Leah Cox

<b> Remember to give myself credit </b>