A Life in Movement

An Interview with Fanchon Shur

Fanchon Shur, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, is a movement artist, movement scientist, movement therapist, poet and orator. She founded and has directed Growth in Motion since 1978, and the Fanchon Shur Ceremonial Dance Theater since 1974. She has been a private movement therapist since 1983. Her nonprofit offers performances, workshops, classes and therapy.

Fanchon suffered a stroke shortly before being asked to give an interview for Stance on Dance. Her administrator extraordinaire, Kim Marcum, who facilitated this interview, shares that Fanchon’s way of describing her work has changed significantly post-stroke. Here is a glimpse into Fanchon’s life in movement.

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What were your formative years in dance like?

I feel I’ve had many formative years at different times, so the first would be my introduction to dance at six years old, mostly ballet and tap. Many things that went into that first period are, in retrospect, more important than I used to think. I did Jewish folk dance, and even ritual at a very young age, which would become my focal point later in life. In high school, I was introduced to modern dance and, in college, that became my focus. It was a crucial time for me, varied and deep, and it just kept getting better.

How did your formative experiences influence your communal and therapeutic approach to dance?

As time went on, my interests grew more sustained. I saw a need, and I could “go there.” I wanted to go there inside, through my choreography, and I really developed it with my husband, Bonia Shur.

Was there a particular event that led you to think about dance beyond performances and choreography?

Was it something inside the field or was it something else? I don’t know. I’d had this since almost the beginning – this idea of choreography as more than technique. Many of my dances came because I had that impulse to move beyond technique and form.

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What exactly is Growth in Motion and how is it organized?

Growth in Motion is a nonprofit organization. I am the founder and director. Through performances, workshops, classes and therapy, Growth in Motion strives to impart the skills needed to deepen understanding of the body – its ability to heal, and its power to build community and transform our experiences into a shared movement celebration.

There are so many facets to your work – what are some projects/aspects of your work that have been particularly satisfying?

My choreography – whether it’s me dancing or a group dancing, or me and a group dancing –  choreography itself is very moving. But it’s more than that; it’s a web for people and events. Ritual IS performance. So much stands out: the community, the choreographic development, the way the dances develop over time, etc.

Do you feel like you have a message? If so, what is it?

My message is to do God’s work… through me. Me sometimes means me, sometimes a hundred people and me, or a thousand people and me, or myself only, or me and Bonia, or me with Bonia and seven other composers.

When you look back over your career, what insights do you know now that maybe you didn’t have when you were younger?

Ritual is a better word than choreography, and I didn’t know that when I was young. The past 30 to 40 years, my understanding of ritual has really grown. Had I known how powerful it is, I would have done it much earlier.

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