5 minutes with Shannon Murphy


With the next installment of our free webinar series Move & Improve: How the Franklin Method® improves Dance just around the corner, we talked to the class teacher- Franklin Method® Faculty Educator, dance artist and dance teacher Shannon Murphy – for a chat. If you’d like to find out more about Shannon and what she does, check out her website.


Shannon, when did you first start learning the Franklin Method®?

I met Eric at the Dance Teacher Magazine Conference in NYC in 2006. After taking his workshop, I found out that he was beginning a Level 1 training in Philadelphia, where I had just moved! Training in the Franklin Method® happened while I was developing my pedagogical approach to teaching dance techniques and learning how to maintain my physical health as a professional freelance dancer. This method has really shaped my dancing, teaching, and creative process. I continued to train with Eric through Level 3 and then trained to be Faculty.

How has the Franklin Method® changed your dancing?

I was constantly injured as a dance student and young professional. I was hypermobile, and the repetition of the extreme range of motion without proper support was wreaking havoc on my joints. I noticed a significant shift from the first workshop I took with Eric. Imagery has always been really special to me. As a child, I would visualize all of my dances as a way to practice before sleeping or in the car on the way to a competition.

My choreographic process relies on imagery mediations that spill into movement… so it made sense to me that I resonated so much with aligning the imagery of functional anatomy to movement. The most significant change, and what I hope to embolden in the Franklin Method® students who study with me, is the skill of recognizing sensation as vital information. My training often used pain as a gauge for success. If it is hurting, you are doing it right, working hard. The shift came for me when I noticed that at this level in my training, pain was a signal that something was off instead of a reward. My technique improved when I imagined the bone rhythms while warming up, and I hurt less. Physical excellence meant I needed to engage with a wide range of somatically nuanced sensations and learn to trust when my body told me no, or not yet, or that is too far. And although I sometimes need to learn that lesson again and again, I think it is the reason I am still dancing at 40. For me, it was a radical notion that excellence and ease can co-mingle!

Why would you recommend Franklin Method® to dance enthusiasts and teachers?

Off the top of my head, there are two main reasons. One is a fine-tuning technique, and the other has to do with Franklin Method®‘s student-centered approach. Firstly, I love that so many of our dance techniques have been passed down through physical and verbal traditions. However, I think there must be room for growth. Many cues in Western dance techniques fall short, leaning heavily towards specific aesthetics and may even impede function. So, for people who teach dance, understanding a felt sense of the dynamics that happen from the internal perspective of the body is paramount to success.

Since many dancers’ injuries result from misuse and overuse, learning to incorporate bone rhythms, muscle sliding, and fascial rebound can extend our student’s well-being. The latter comes from instilling a sense of trust in one’s body. Because the Franklin Method® doesn’t ask rhetorical questions, we encourage students to actively participate in their learning. Franklin Method® Educators learn how to ask student-centered questions, helping to notice, name, and fine-tune sensations in one’s body while dancing. This can be wildly creative, applying external global imagery like a strong breeze blowing the limbs through space, or it can be internal and specific, such as visualizing coupled motion in the spine!

The point is that the students get to experiment with imagery to find what works for them and apply it. As dancers, many of us have heard that we are our own teachers, and with Franklin Method® tools, one can get an upgrade and make sure our self-assessments are more than critical and shaming feedback. We get to practice naming what we want and align imagery, metaphorical, anatomical, or self talk, for example, to help us experience those goals.

If you want to find out more about how the Franklin Method can support your dancing, join Shannon’s class online on Tuesday, November 28 – 9 AM (Pacific) / 12 PM (Eastern) / 6 PM (Zurich) – for Move & Improve: How the Franklin Method improves Dance. And the best bit? It’s FREE!

Shannon Murphy (she/her) is a dance artist/educator. She received her MFA in Dance from the University of the Arts and a BA in dance from Point Park University. She is faculty specializing in Franklin Method® for dance at Franklin Method Institute, Switzerland. She has mentored and taught Franklin Method® Teacher Training Levels 1-3 in the U.S., London, and internationally organized virtual trainings. In the summer of 2017, she created the Art and Science of the Plié Dance Teacher Module and was the first to implement this 45-hour certificate study into the curriculum at the University of the Arts in the fall of 2020.

As an educator, she is committed to radical sustainability and develops curricula to reduce injury and support healing for performers. Shannon is an Assistant Professor at Temple University (Theater), was an adjunct professor at Drexel University, and assistant director of the Drexel Dance Ensemble, Stockton University, and UArts, where she was the Curricular Head of Body Pathways for 10 years. Her work has recently been presented at the Cannonball Festival, Penn Museum, The Painted Bride Art Center, and as asynchronous performance in the form of zines. Her choreographies span contemporary dance theater, musical theater, and emergent improvisational scores. Shannon has performed for choreographers such as Charles Anderson, Nichole Canuso, Group Motion, Jaamil Kosoko, and Annie Wilson, and was co-director of idiosynCrazy productions alongside founder Jumatatu Poe. She has been awarded a Rocky Award through Dance USA Philadelphia for her choreography.

Shannon has also been supported by numerous residencies, including New Edge at the Community Education Center, Live Arts LAB, Mascher Space Co-Op, the Whole Shebang, Subcirlce, Archedream for Humankind, and most recently, the University of the Arts. Franklin Method® is also a resource for her creative practice. Shannon has developed dance practices that illuminate systems of vitality within the body through imagery-based movement meditations and performance compositions. For more information on her work visit www.shannonmurphydance.com

For a taste of what you can expect from Shannon’s class, check out this video from our YouTube channel:

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