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January 30, 2013

Out of the Shadows

Left: Sybil Shearer (image courtesy of the Morrison Shearer Foundation);Right: John Neumeier

Slowly, slowly modernist dancer and choreographer Sybil Shearer is emerging from the shadows.  After a successful dance premiere at Carnegie Hall in 1941, Shearer decided to come to Chicago to develop her art in the open landscapes of the Midwest.  She built a studio in Northbrook, IL and mentored and inspired many young artists including John Neumeier, Director and chief Choreographer of the Hamburg Ballet.  This weekend Neumeier and the Hamburg Ballet present Nijinsky at the Harris Theater.

Sid Smith wrote this article for the Chicago Tribune about the Midwest artistic giants who influenced Neumeier’s work. In it, Neumeier mentions Sybil Shearer, stating “From the point of view of movement and movement invention, from a sense of inner concentration, Sybil is my greatest inspiration…I didn’t realize it at the time. Sybil was slow-working; she prepared and prepared something and then would shelve it to work on something else. As a young man, I was impatient. But in retrospect, I deeply appreciate what she gave me.”

CFA houses and manages the Morrison-Shearer film collection for the Morrison-Shearer Foundation. To learn more about Sybil Shearer, you can go to CFA’s Explore Collections page or to the Morrison-Shearer Foundation website.

The Hamburg Ballet performs Nijinsky Friday, Februray 1 and Saturday, February 2 at the Harris Theater. And on Monday, February 4, John Neumeier will be talking with Northwestern University’s Susan Manning at the Arts Club of Chicago.

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