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Substantive resources about Sybil Shearer’s career are scarce and scattered — fewer than one would expect for an artist who has received such high acclaim. There is no biography of her, aside from her own privately published three-volume autobiography. Critics have said they did not see enough of her – the consequence of her nonconforming way of working apart from the mainstream, her infrequent performances, and her refusal to tour. Thus researchers are limited to newspaper reviews of her performances, articles about her in periodicals, mentions of her in books, and primary materials now located at the Newberry Library in Chicago.

Some books that discuss Sybil: NEW DANCE: Approaches to Nonliteral Choreography, by Margery J. Turner; Dance to the Piper, by Agnes de Mille; The Complete Guide to Modern Dance by Don McDonough.

Published Information

Periodical articles have been written about Sybil Shearer, and she is discussed in numerous dance books. Newspaper articles and reviews, many of which appear in all three volumes of Sybil’s autobiography, provide other sorts of information.

MSF Oral Histories

The collecting of oral histories by the Morrison-Shearer Foundation began in 2014, when six people who knew Sybil Shearer were video-recorded at the Jerome Robbins Dance Division of the New York Public Library. That same year twenty more interviews were video-recorded in Chicago, and one in Berkeley, California. These interviews are being retained by MSF for review, reference, and use in visual programs.

Chicago Dance History Project

In its quest to locate information about dance in Chicago, a major activity is to locate and video-interview related personalities. Interviews have been made with MSF Trustees Tain Balfour, Carol Doty, Toby Nicholson, Alida Szabo, and Mary Sue Wheeler. MSF helped fund an interview with Hamburg Ballet director John Neumeier in Germany in 2019.