Fanchon Shur History
Fanchon Shur was the Director of Growth in Motion, Inc, founded in 1978, a unique not-for-profit cultural organization that incorporated The Fanchon Shur Ceremonial Dance Theater. She brought to Growth in Motion vast experience as a choreographer, dancer, movement therapist, healer and teacher, having been co-founder of Dance Theater Seattle and New Dance Theater in Los Angeles
Fanchon is a versatile artist, having choreographed for film, concert stage and communal ceremonies. For her contribution to the Arts and Humanities, she was inducted into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame in 1990
Her dance film, "LULLABY," an anti-war drama in the nuclear age, won the third prize at the 1960 International Film Festival held in San Francisco. In the 1960's in Los Angeles, she composed a series of choreographic stage works and solos: "EARTH" (1962), "FALLEN LEAF" (1962), "HIGH SPRING" (1961), and "GESTURE OF DEER:(1962) co-choreographed with Kate Hughes. In 1968 Fanchon choreographed the dances for the award-winning television special "REVOLT IN MODE'IN." Her touring works include: "CRIMSON PRAYER," a Kaddish for "the six million," those who died in the Holocaust (Washington, DC. 1971); and "WOMANKIND: THE "SHECHINAH IS WITH HER" (Seattle, 1974), a 27-minute choreographic stage work for seven dancer-priestesses and a brilliant sound score.
"TALLIT: PRAYER SHAWL," a work developed over a twenty-year span, premiered at the National Woman Church Convergence in Cincinnati in 1987. This unique two-hour work uses a forty-foot white prayer shawl as a vehicle for fusing choreographed dance segments with structured communal ceremonies and rituals. "TALLIT" has received five major grants from the Ohio Arts and Humanities Councils to present this work throughout Ohio.
One of Fanchon's solo works is "SARAH, SPEAK!" (Tel Aviv, l986) This composition combines the art of theater, dance, music, and communal ceremony and story-telling into dramatic rebellion by Sarah against Abraham's unquestioning obedience as he hears a "divine" call to sacrifice their son.
She has been honored to choreograph and perform the Grand Opening of Cincinnati’s Aronoff Center for the Performing Arts in 1996.
Fanchon Shur is also a Certified Movement Analyst (Laban Institute of Movement Studies, New York City), a registered movement therapist and somatic body worker (International Somatic Movement Therapy and Educational Association), energetic healer (Certified by Barbara Brennan in Healing Science) lyricist and poet.
In addition to her work in Cincinnati, she frequently conducted workshops throughout the United States and abroad. In these she explored, with the participants, how consciousness of our deep movement may offer us transforming power in our time. She uses movement as a vehicle to strengthen and deepen relationships - both internally between the parts of the self, and externally between the individual and the community.
As a visionary choreographer, her work merges psychology, multicultural sacred ceremonies, theater, dance, chanting and Jewish traditions with ancient and contemporary women's spirituality. Fanchon Shur's work is infused with a passion for human, social and political justice.
In the educational field, she developed model programs for integrating movement with math, science, history and social studies, and movement education in private and public elementary and high schools in Los Angeles, Seattle and Cincinnati.
Fanchon Shur raised four children. She resided in Cincinnati, beginning in 1974, with her husband, Bonia Shur, Director of Liturgical Arts at Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion. Fanchon and Bonia Shur were collaborators. He composed the music for most of her dances and rituals, and she wrote the librettos to his dramatic orchestral works.
Her Ceremonial Dance Theater work "PURSES, POCKETS AND FAMILY SECRETS" is a healing ceremony and searing performance piece exploring the manner in which family and cultural secrets are passed on through generations, inhibiting the potential for ecstasy in communities, stifling individual creativity and the cultivation of our deep mysteries, and developing in us shame and humiliation that scars the very soul of a people and their futures. The healing power of this work has been felt in African-American, Jewish, Catholic, and AA communities.
“FLIGHT, FIGHT, FREEZE!" a full evening work for seven dancer/healers, is a dynamic celebration of our animal nature, and revolutionary approach to understanding the roots of human violence and healing through our body’s ancient wisdom. This work was performed for 5 years and then performed in city schools combined with classes based on the choreography.
IIn 2005, “VIBRANT SOUL: LEBEDIKE N’SHOME” was performed at the Aronoff Center in Cincinnati as an evocation and tribute to the souls of the Eastern European Jews.
In 2006, “ALL THAT BREATHES” was performed around the Cincinnati, OH area, including at the Aronoff Theater. This piece fuses the Islamic, Jewish, and Spanish Christian and Gypsy cultures into a dance spectacle for 24 dancers to celebrate tolerance between the three faiths.
In 2008, “PRIMORDIAL ROUND”, a duet dealt with the tender journey towards death by the mother/mentor and the daughter/apprentice. As the mother ages, she is witnessed and supported by the daughter until the mother dies. The riveting performance by the 73-year-old Fanchon Shur and the 24-year-old Karen Wissel, with a gripping viola score written by Bonia Shur ,brings together the passion of life in the face of inevitable death. It was performed in St. Louis and at Cincinnati’s Aronoff Center.
Fanchon trained health professionals, athletic instructors, artists, and parents in courses such as Developmental Movement, Moving from the Soul, Life Long Back Health, Thriving Baby, and Awakening Your Innate Movement Patterns. She created workshops, performances, and ceremonies for organizations that celebrate each groups' unique mission. www.growthinmotion.org
- Third Prize, International Film Festival in San Francisco, for producing and choreographing the independent anti-war dance film "Lullaby".
- University of Cincinnati Eating Disorders Clinic of the Department of Psychology, Movement Therapist.
- Individual Artist Award, Ohio Arts Council
- Post-Corbett Award Finalist, for accomplishments as a performing artist
- Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Oh. Hanukah, Passover, and "Tallit: Prayer Shawl" Ceremonies in Gymnasium for 3-400 people.
- "Tallit: Prayer Shawl", gave extended workshops and performed in various locations.
- Healing the Earth Conference with Thomas Berry, Mount St. Joseph College, Cincinnati, Ohio, led Closing Ceremony.
- "Sarah, Speak!" performed in various locations in the U.S. and Israel.
- Ohio Council for the Arts, awarded Ohio Joint Program in the Arts and Humanities grant for the development of "Purses, Pockets and Family Secrets".
- Temple Israel, St. Louis, Mo., as the Mildred E. Simon Scholar-in-Residence, performed “Jewess in Renaissance”.
- Ohio Women's Hall of Fame, induction for contributions to the Arts and Humanities
- Laban Institute of Movement Studies at The University of Washington, Seattle. presented a retrospective of work: "Thirty-five Years of Dance and Movement Choirs".
- Haverford College, Philadelphia, Pa. Guest Lecture Series, performed “Sarah, Speak!” and “Jewess in Renaissance”.
- Growth in Motion, Cincinnati, OH, co-directed with Bonia Shur the improvisational collaborative/collective: Eimun.
- “Purses, Pockets and Family Secrets” performed in various formats and locations.
- Contemporary Dance Theater, Cincinnati, Ohio, taught full-year training in Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysis as pre-requisite for Certification as a Movement Analyst.
- National Convention of the Pastoral Educators of America, Lexington, Ky., choreographed and performed opening ceremony: And God is the Roaring Blaze.
- Barbara Brennan School of Healing, N.Y., choreographed and performed “5 characterologies, who we are not!”
- Wholistic Woman of the Year: New Lifestyles Magazine, for multi-cultural work in arts and healing, Autumn
- Aronoff Center, Procter and Gamble Hall, Cincinnati, OH, Grand Opening Dedication Performance.
- Morehead State College, Morehead, Ky., keynote performance: “Developmental Movement and the Evolution of Intelligence”.
- Barbara Brennan School of Healing, Long Island, N.Y., graduate of 4-year training program in Healing Science.
- Franciscan Wholistic Health Center and TriHealth Healing Arts Center, Cincinnati, Ohio faculty.
- Institute for Contemporary Midrash National Convention, Hebrew Union College, New York, N.Y., keynote performance “Sarah, Speak!”
- “FLIGHT, FIGHT, FREEZE! Moving into Peace” workshops and performances in various formats and locations including inner city schools, Xavier University Psychology of Diversity course, and Hebrew Union College’s Meyerson Hall and Scheuer Chapel, Cincinnati, Ohio.
- Food For Thought Series at Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, Ohio, lecture, video, and demonstration: Dancing the Prayer.
- University Psychology of Diversity course, and Hebrew Union College’s Mayerson Hall and Scheuer Chapel, Cincinnati, OH
- Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio, lecturer in Mindfulness and Somatic Movement.
Choreographer/performer of more than 100 pieces, including:
- Global Water Dances-Cincinnati (2013 & 2015, Cincinnati);
- Primordial Round (2008, Choreographers Without Companies);
- Ode to Mother Francis (2006, Franciscan Sisters of the Poor);
- Totem of Tolerance (premiered 2006, Cincinnati);
- All That Breathes (2006, Choreographers Without Companies);
- Vibrant Soul: Lebedike N’Shome (2005, Choreographers Without Companies);
- FLIGHT, FIGHT, FREEZE! Moving Towards Peace (premiered 2000, Cincinnati);
- Dancing the Wild Woman’s Healing Fire (1995, Morehead State College);
- Purses, Pockets and Family Secrets (premiered 1990, Cincinnati);
- Tallit: Prayer Shawl (1987, Philadelphia);
- It’s A Slow Beginning: Inaugural Ecumenical Worship Service for Governor Celeste (1986, Cincinnati);
- Sarah, Speak! (1986, Tel Aviv);
- Dance with a Red Cloth (1983, Cincinnati);
- Ancient Myths: New Legends (1979, Tulsa, Oklahoma);
- Jewess in Renaissance (1976, Toronto);
- New Moon-Hallel Psalms (1975, San Francisco);
- Cosmos in Motion (1975, Cincinnati);
- Womankind: Shechinah is with Her (1974, Seattle);
- Crimson Prayer: Memorial To Victims Of The Holocaust (1971, Washington, DC);
- Revolt in Mode-in (1968, ABC television special, Los Angeles);
- Gesture of Deer (1963, Los Angeles);
- Fallen Leaf (1963, Los Angeles);
- Layers of Life (1963, Los Angeles);
- Search for Identity (1966, Saratoga);
- Women of Longing (1965, San Diego);
- High Spring (1961, Los Angeles);
- Lullaby (1959, Los Angeles);
Fanchon Shur: 55 Years of Dance
- Filming by Michael Rossato Bennett
- Edited by Lauren Pray
- Three generations of ceremonial, theater, activist, and healing dance, with original music by two of the greatest dance composers, Bonia Shur and C.B. Jackson. Dance jewels include “Birth”, “Purses, Pockets and Family Secrets”, “Lullaby”, “Primordial Round”, “Governor’s Inaugural – It’s a Slow Beginning”, “Gesture of Deer”, “Crimson Prayer”, “Tallit: Prayer Shawl”, “Vibrant Souls”, and “Flight, Fight, Freeze: the Power of Instinct”. This short film flows like a dance, and is meant to give you a sweep of an entire lifetime of an evocative artist, awakening entire audiences into sacred communities, speaking truth to power, tapping ethnic roots, using scaffolding, large ropes, huge balls, and magnificent costumes, to awaken our sacred nature.