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A Tribute to Martha Mahr

On Thursday, October 2, 2014, we celebrated an extraordinary individual. Few people have the opportunity to shape as many lives as Ms. Mahr did.

Martha Mahr had a long and successful career. She was a prima ballerina and ballet mistress for the Ballet Nacional de Alicia Alonso in Cuba. It was during this time that she began to teach at Conchita Espinosa Academy and Conservatory of the Arts in Havana.

When Conchita came to the United States in the early 1960’s, Martha called her from Argentina to ask if she could come to Miami to teach for her. Unable to sponsor her, Conchita knocked on many doors, until she found a shipping company that agreed to sponsor Martha in the United States. She knocked down walls in her house to turn it into a dance studio and soon after, Martha began to teach in Conchita’s garage, and the tradition of dance at Conchita was renewed in Miami. When Conchita opened her first school on SW 1st Street, Martha continued with her until it was time to pursue other goals.

Ms. Mahr went on to found the renowned Martha Mahr School of Ballet, as well as the Miami Ballet, alongside Thomas Armour and Robert Pike.

Her list of students is long. Ms. Mahr taught Fernando Bujones, Victoria Leigh, Mark Goldweber, Lourdes Lopez and countless others who went on to join major ballet companies, including American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Philadelphia Ballet, Boston Ballet, Orlando Ballet, Miami City Ballet, and the list goes on. Professional dancers, including Margot Fonteyn, Cynthia Gregory, and Natalia Makarova frequently sought Ms. Mahr’s masterful teaching and guidance.

Ms. Mahr’s dedication and fierce humanity inspired her students to extend beyond their limitations. She challenged them to surpass their perceived limits. She achieved this because in addition to her undying persistence and discipline, which she also expected in her students, she cared deeply. She engendered a sense of love in her students that allowed them to learn because they knew that you were cared for. She loved her students. She was so vested that it left you no choice but to do the same. She ignited that spark, that passion, the need to surpass your own self.

Success is defined in many ways, but ultimately, success comes down to how many lives you have touched, and in this sense, Ms. Mahr was a giant. She was instrumental in reaching, touching, and igniting great human beings, and she was able to achieve this because she herself was a great human being.

Whether or not her students became prima ballerinas or simply lovers of dance, every single one left with a piece of Ms. Mahr in them. The values she taught in her classes are some that will forever remain with her students. And no matter what they do, after living Ms. Mahr’s example, they undoubtedly do it with great dedication, great passion and most importantly, great love.

She lives on through us. As long as the teaching goes on, as long as her example is lived, her legacy will continue.


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