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“There is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost.”"Judgement Seeks Its Own Level," from Fables and ProverbsMartha Graham


Hedwig Dances performs Time Longs for Eternity, 2012.

Dance choreographers gain inspiration for new dances in a variety of ways, sometimes re-creating or re-imagining the work of a choreographer who has come before. Though it is impossible to exactly re-create the work of another dancer, especially one whose movements are unique, it is nevertheless important to encourage the physical study of such dances if they are to survive. MSF has worked with several dancers to this end.

To keep Sybil’s dances alive, MSF is in the process of copyrighting a selection of Shearer solos and Company dances that may be available for future re-staging and interpretation. Interested dancers are encouraged to contact the Morrison-Shearer Foundation.

In 2012, as part of the Sybil Shearer centennial, HEDWIG DANCES performed Time Longs for Eternity and The Reflection in the Puddle Is Mine at the Foundation’s Summer Soiree. The event was held at the Winnetka Community House, where the Sybil Shearer School of Dance was started.

Rehearsal for Judgment Seeks Its Own Level, performed at the Newberry Library in 2015. Kristina Isabelle Dance Company.

In 2013, Sybil’s comic solo, In a Vacuum, was performed by JESSICA MILLER TOMLINSON (pictured in the lead photograph) as part of Thodos Dance Chicago’s New Music & Dance concert at the University of Chicago’s Logan Center for the Arts.

In 2014, as part of the 125th anniversary of the Auditorium Theater, THODOS DANCE CHICAGO restaged Time Longs for Eternity and created a company version of Sybil’s fast-moving solo, A Salute to Old Friends: Agnes de Mille. On the same program, Sybil’s solo, A Salute to Old Friends, Walter Terry, was performed by Alissa Tollefson.

In 2015 KRISTINA ISABELLA,  dancer and MSF grant recipient, began a year-long study of Sybil Shearer, culminating with a program titled “Sybil Shearer: Maverick of the Past, Muse of the Present,” at the Newberry Library. It included Sybil’s solo, O Lost! and a 1969 Sybil Shearer Company dance, Judgment Seeks Its Own Level.

In 2016 Kristina premiered And the Spirit Moved Me, a new work inspired by Sybil’s quest for spirituality through movement, at the Pivot Arts Festival at Loyola University. At Links Hall she reprised the Company dance, Judgment Seeks Its Own Level, which Sybil choreographed to a version of Iron Butterfly’s classic rock anthem, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. And in 2017 Kristina reprised the solo O Lost! for the Ragdale Foundation’s fundraising event, “A Novel Affair,” in Lake Forest.

Rehearsal for Judgment Seeks Its Own Level, performed at the Newberry Library in 2015.
Ella Rosewood performing Sybil’s solo to Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. Photo by Chris Steele-Nicholson

In 2017, ELLA ROSEWOOD performed Sybil’s 1947 solo, “No Peace on Earth,” at the 92nd Street Y in New York City as part of a program on “Historic and Significant Female Solos 1928-1954.” Now based in New York, Ella hails from Wisconsin and has visited MSF, receiving coaching from Toby Nicholson here and in New York. Among the purposes of Ella Rosewood Dance is to preserve historic and seminal modern dance solos through reconstructions and education initiatives.

In 2018 Ella undertook Sybil’s long difficult solo “Seventh Dance,” to Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and performed it at the 92nd Street Y. It was filmed and shown in June 2019 at the Newberry Library as part of the program, Choreography and the Archives: Preservation, Tradition, and Innovation from Sybil Shearer through the Present, with live commentary by Ella.