Photo by Cheryl Mann
The following is a press release from the Office of Communication.
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. —Thodos Dance Chicago (TDC) will perform at Skidmore College at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7, in the Skidmore Dance Theater. The performance will highlight two Skidmore graduates and renowned choreographers: Melissa Thodos and Sybil Shearer.
The program includes a contemporary dance about Helen Keller and mixed repertoire that celebrates Chicago voices past and present. Named one of the top 10 dance events of 2013 by the Chicago Sun-Times and nominated for an Emmy Award, A Light in the Dark, the story of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan, is a one-act story ballet about Helen Keller, the extraordinary woman who was deaf and blind yet went on to become a world-famous writer, political activist, and inspiration to all, and her teacher Anne Sullivan, who led Helen into a world of education, activism and intellectual celebrity. Bruce Wolosoff created an original score exclusively for the work, which was a collaboration between company founder and artistic director Melissa Thodos and Tony Award-winning choreographer Ann Reinking. The company premiered A Light in the Dark in January 2013. The second act of the Skidmore performance includes Near Light, choreographed by Thodos, the recreation of Chicago modern dance legend Sybil Shearer’s 1956 dance suite Salute to Old Friends, and TDC ensemble member John Cartwright’s Flawed and Lullaby by independent choreographer Brian Enos, both created via the company’s New Dances choreography project and series. Tickets for the Skidmore performance are $15 adults, $10 Skidmore community, $5 students. Tickets are sold 45 minutes prior to the performance and early arrival enhances seat selection. Contact the Dance Theater box office at 518-580-5392 for more information.
*** Thodos graduated in 1984 from Skidmore with a degree in dance, and performed throughout the world with the Chicago Repertory Dance Ensemble. She founded her company in 1992. Today, TDC performs dances by Thodos, those of company members, and works by acclaimed choreographers.
Thodos has presented her works throughout America, in Paris on numerous occasions, Edinburgh, South Korea, Australia and Turkey. Her choreography has won awards at such competitions as the Concours Internationale de Dance de Paris and Dance under the Stars Choreography Festival in Palm Desert, Calif., a leading competition for dance choreography in the U.S. She is a member of the dance faculty of the Broadway Theatre Project, hailed by Playbill as “the world’s most prestigious musical theater arts education program for high school and college students.”
Photo by Cheryl Mann
In 1941 Sybil Shearer (1912-2005) burst upon the modern dance scene, setting a radical new direction with her solo debut, garnering rave reviews and critic John Martin’s accolade as the year’s most promising solo choreographer.
She left New York in 1942 for the soon-to-be Roosevelt College in Chicago, where she was given freedom to work close to nature, in her own unorthodox way. Within a month she met photographer Helen Balfour Morrison, who became her artistic collaborator for the next 40 years. Over the next decade Shearer returned to New York annually for a solo concert, sometimes on 10 days’ notice.
Shearer graduated from Skidmore in 1934 with a degree in English literature. She attended the Bennington College Summer School of the Dance in its first years, studying with Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman, and Hanya Holm. From 1935 to 1941 she was a soloist with the Humphrey-Weidman group and with Agnes de Mille.
In 1951 she built a studio/residence in Northbrook, left Roosevelt, and began choreographing group performances of her students. In 1959 she started the Sybil Shearer Company and in 1962 became artist-in-residence at the National College of Education in Evanston, where the company’s infrequent performances drew critics from around the country. Their last program was at Arie Crown Theater in 1972.
In later years Shearer wrote for Ballet Review, supported the Joffrey Ballet, an