Shannon’s goal as a choreographer is to make work that empowers the participants and engages audiences, providing an opportunity for both groups to see themselves, their communities, and the world in a new and more thoughtful, positive way. Her work focuses on abstract story-telling, using movement, words, and design as the tools to convey her message. Her movement style is a rigorous fusion of ballet, modern, and contemporary dance, combined with luscious organic movement, powerful gesture, and a potent use of stillness. Her approach to choreography is collaborative, and she values the dancers’ creative contributions to each project. When creating dances for students, she actively involves them in the creative process, teaching them about dance making as they choreograph together. Throughout her career, she has had the privilege and joy of working with many musicians, actors, writers, and other creative people. She is committed to making accessible, engaging work for a variety of audiences, most especially those who would not normally seek out concert dance.

The Title Keeps Changing

A dance-theatre duet originally devised and choreographed by Shannon Dooling-Cain and Lauren Fanslau; later revised with creative input from Emilie Davignon and Elizabeth Barton. The video clip below is excerpted from performance at Dance Place (Washington, D.C.). Music by Natalie Spehar.


  • Premiere: 2013, Center Valley, PA
  • Music: John Adams
  • Choreography: Shannon Dooling and Krista Armbruster with the cast
  • Performance: DeSales University Dance Ensemble

Superluminous explore ties that bind and tangles that entrap as the dancers twist one another up in kinesthetic and emotional webs, but just as quickly they release, recoil and rebound into new relationships or solo explorations.

Week 41

  • Premiere: 2018, Tempe, AZ
  • Music: Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR)
  • Choreography: Shannon Dooling-Cain
  • Performance: Movement Source Dance Company

I believe that the best dances are the ones that live in the delicate balance between indulging in self-expression and finding ways to be accessible to a broader audience. By combining my personal postpartum experience with the more universal theme of the parent-child bond, I hope that Week 41 found that balance, at least in a small way. Read more here.

Another Word For Missing 

  • Premiere: 2014, Philadelphia, PA
  • Music: Alexandra T Bryant
  • Choreography: Shannon Dooling and Krista Armbruster with the cast

Another Word For Missing is an evening-legnth work made of 5 excerptible sections, each connected to the theme of “missing’: planes that vanish into thin air, people who disappear in an instant, the “missing link” that is explored in ABA therapy, and more.


  • Premiere: 2013, College Park, MD
  • Music: Astor Piazzolla, Performed by Jonathan Cain (cello) and Yee Von Ng (piano)
  • Choreography and Performance: Shannon Dooling and Elizabeth Barton
  • Projections: Robin Neveu Brown with Brittany Shemuga
  • Lighting: Brittany Shemuga

Altared was inspired by the tangos of Argentina and Finland, the concept of alter egos, Finnish mythology, and the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  The work began as a pure-movement “trio for piano, cello, and modern dancer” for Dooling, Ng, and Cain,and quickly blossomed into a thematic multimedia work exploring the notion: “We are all capable of unimaginable violence and unimaginable good.”

Improvisation Series 

Series of improvised duets between Shannon Dooling-Cain and Cellist Jonathan Cain, exploring the relationship between sound and movement, composer and choreographer, musician and dancer, and human and artist. Synchronicity, the most recent edition in the series, was performed at Glendale Community College in Glendale, AZ as part of the Arizona Dance West Festival in 2017.

Done Up and Strung Up
Done Up and Strung Up uses the performer’s relationships with a string of pearls as a metaphor for the idealized version of womanhood.

Not Alone

  • Premiere: 2013, New York City
  • Music: Spark by Geoff Sheil, Performed by Jonathan Cain, Thomas Edward Hunter, and Paul Keesling
  • Choreography and Performance: Shannon Dooling

like a unicorn in captivity

  • Master’s Thesis Concert, University of Maryland, College Park, 2012
  • music: vivaldi, brahams, the album leaf, natalie spehar; additional music composed by joel pierson and performed by natalie spehar, joel pierson, john hadfield
  • choreography: shannon dooling, additional choreography: trinette singleton
  • text: anne morrow linbergh, shannon dooling
  • set design: douglas andrew clarke
  • lighting design: andrew cissna
  • projections design: robert denton
  • costume design: chelsey schuller

What happens when you realize that your idol isn’t perfect? Or, when you recognize her flaws in yourself? Inspired by these questions, Shannon Dooling created Like a Unicorn in Captivity, a response to and an interpretation of the work of writer and aviator Anne Morrow Lindbergh. The piece incorporates multimedia, spoken word and movement in an exploration of celebrity, hero-worship, identity, relationship, ambition, creativity and duty.


#ChoreographyAdventures: Short, simple, solo choreographic explorations (a.k.a. “dancettes”) inspired by prompts posted on my Instagram account and blog posts like this one.


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