Modern/Contemporary Master Class with Marcus Jarrell Willis, April 20

Join us as visiting guest artist Marcus Jarrell Willis teaches a Modern/Contemporary master class at TU Dance Center. The class is a blend of familiar Horton-based technique exercises with other modern release forms during the warm-up portion. The remainder of the class is an exploration of the continuous development of Willis’s own signature language through gestural and contemporary forms of Modern Dance movement. This class is for an Advanced/Pre-Professional Level.
 
Saturday, April 20 | 2:00-3:30pm
 
Cost: $16, payable online or at TUDC by cash, check or debit/credit card. (Online pre-registration suggested. Class cards accepted with additional $4 fee.)
Student Name & Email Address:

 
Marcus Jarrell Willis has performed with RIOULT, Dominic Walsh Dance Theater, Tania Pérez-Salas Compañía de Danza and was a member of Ailey II. Willis performed with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater from 2008-2016 traveling around the world performing, teaching numerous masterclasses and participating through Outreach in various communities both locally and abroad. He has been a resident teacher for the KCFAA Paseo Project and was a member of the KCFAA Ailey Trio, leading lecture demonstrations in schools around the Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas area. Willis is a returning teacher at Centre Chorégraphique James Carles Stage International de Danse in Toulouse, France. He has presented his choreographic work in the 2009 TDDC Contemporary Dance Festival in NYC, The Ailey Dancer’s Resource Fund performances, The Dance Gallery Festival, The Moving Beauty Series and Gdánsk Festival Tańca in Poland. Commissions include works created for Ailey II, TU Dance, Company Danzante, The Juilliard School, The Ailey School, University of Minnesota, Lucia Marthas Institute for the Performing Arts in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Satellite Collective, The Dance Gallery Festival Level Up Commission in 2013 and The 92nd Y Dance Introduction Series, among others. Willis is the Founder of MJ Willis Project-Inc, which made its debut in Wales in 2017, premiering “My Brother, Dear Sister”. He was named Best Choreographer for TU Dance creation “Sensible Existence” in City Pages 2018 Best of the Twin Cities. Currently, he is the 2018/19 Leverhulme Choreography Fellow at Rambert Dance in London.
Photo credit: Stéphane Chouan

Advanced Pre-Professional Summer Intensive, July 29 – August 17

Please join us for the TU Dance 2019 Advanced Pre-Professional Summer Intensive.

This program is designed for advanced pre-professional students (ages 17-24) who are interested in strengthening technique, developing their artistry and participating in a professional level creative process. Students will work with TU Dance Artistic Directors Toni Pierce-Sands and Uri Sands, TU Dance Center teaching artists, as well as guest artists/choreographers who will be creating with the students during the 3-week intensive.

We are honored to welcome back guest artist Marcus Jarrell Willis (New York). Marcus, like Toni and Uri, danced with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for several years and has gone on to develop his own voice as a choreographer nationally and internationally. Recently, Willis was named the 2018 City Pages “Best Choreographer” for Sensible Existence, a work he created for TU Dance.

We welcome for the first time guest artist Maurya Kerr (San Francisco), who danced with Alonzo King LINES Ballet for the majority of her career and has also gone on to teach and create her own work with her company tinypistol. Kerr and TU Dance Center School Director Laurel Keen shared several years together at LINES.

Throughout the technique and workshop classes, inspiration will be drawn from the philosophies of these two iconic companies (Alvin Ailey and LINES) that are already woven into the training at TU Dance Center. In addition to these shared backgrounds, we are excited by the artistic voices that Willis and Kerr have cultivated in their own work and how they balance these two elements when working with students. There will be several in-depth discussions where students, faculty and guests will have the opportunity to engage around topics affecting the environment of young dancers today.

TU Dance Center fosters an environment where each individual is welcomed and supported as they are challenged artistically and physically through the artform of dance. Our goal is for each student to develop and incorporate new technical skills and discover a clearer sense of their artistic voice and the artistic questions they would like to pursue. The Summer Intensive will culminate in a performance opportunity for its participants.

For level placement, please contact School Director Laurel Keen at education@tudance.org or (612) 440-9028.

For more information and to register, click here.

Marcus Jarrell Willis has performed with RIOULT, Dominic Walsh Dance Theater, Tania Pérez-Salas Compañía de Danza and was a member of Ailey II. Willis performed with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater from 2008-2016 traveling around the world performing, teaching numerous masterclasses and participating through Outreach in various communities both locally and abroad. He has been a resident teacher for the KCFAA Paseo Project and was a member of the KCFAA Ailey Trio, leading lecture demonstrations in schools around the Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas area. Willis is a returning teacher at Centre Chorégraphique James Carles Stage International de Danse in Toulouse, France.

He has presented his choreographic work in the 2009 TDDC Contemporary Dance Festival in NYC, The Ailey Dancer’s Resource Fund performances, The Dance Gallery Festival, The Moving Beauty Series and Gdánsk Festival Tańca in Poland. Commissions include works created for Ailey II, TU Dance, Company Danzante, The Juilliard School, The Ailey School, University of Minnesota, Lucia Marthas Institute for the Performing Arts in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Satellite Collective, The Dance Gallery Festival Level Up Commission in 2013 and The 92nd Y Dance Introduction Series, among others. Willis is the Founder of MJ Willis Project-Inc, which made its debut in Wales in 2017, premiering “My Brother, Dear Sister”. He was named Best Choreographer for TU Dance creation, Sensible Existence, in City Pages 2018 Best of the Twin Cities. Currently, he is the 2018/19 Leverhulme Choreography Fellow at Rambert Dance in London.

Maurya Kerr is a choreographer, educator, performer, and the artistic director of tinypistol, where her choreographic work has been honored by numerous awards, grants, and commissions. She was an ODC artist-in-residence from 2015 to 2018, and completed her MFA through Hollins University in 2016, writing her thesis on people of color and their access to, or prohibition from, wonderment. She was a member of Alonzo King LINES Ballet for twelve years, and most recently performed in The Foundry’s Deep South, and BodyCartography Project’s felt room at SFMOMA and the University of Minnesota’s Weisman Museum. In 2017 she co-founded the tiny little get down, a quarterly dance party intended to defiantly and subversively fortify otherness through embodied joy and the power of the collective.

Photo by Laura Scher.

Dancing Your Story Workshop, May 6 – July 1

Join teaching artists Thern Anderson & Mary Moore Easter in a dance and writing workshop with curriculum designed for adults ages 55+. Participants will explore creative exercises in which the two art forms are inextricably linked and expand their range of physical expression through improvisational activities and practicing set choreography. Movement will be used as a prompt for writing a variety of texts. Classes are accompanied by live music. There will be a culminating event on the last day of class.

Participants of all levels and abilities are welcome. No previous experience is necessary. Limited spaces available. This workshop is free.

May 6-July 1 | Mondays, 2:00-3:30pm (no class on May 27 in observance of Memorial Day)

Sample class: Thursday, May 2 | 2:00-3:30pm

TU Dance Center, 2121 University Ave W, St. Paul, MN 55114

Please contact TU Dance Education & Outreach Coordinator Kaitin Kelly Benedict at kaitin.kbenedict@tudance.org or (651) 505-3264 with questions and to register.

TU Dance Center is located at 2121 University Avenue West, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55114. Find us on the north side of University Avenue, one block east of Vandalia, located directly behind Subway on the building’s east side. Free parking in the lot in front of TU Dance Center.

Teaching Artist bios:

Thern Anderson is a dance educator with a wealth of experience teaching children, adults, professional dancers and community groups. Thern brings somatic movement principles and improvisational skills to her teaching of modern dance techniques. In teaching dance to beginning adults, her philosophy is that anyone can dance and find pleasure in movement. Classes include the study of body and spatial awareness, rhythm and phrasing, ensemble dancing, and injury prevention. Students learn through modern dance phrases as well as improvisational structures.

Mary Moore Easter’s first poetry collection, The Body of the World, was published by MadHat Press in 2018. The manuscript was a finalist for the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in 2017.  A Pushcart Prize-nominated poet and Cave Canem Fellow, Easter is published in POETRY, The New York Times, Seattle Review, Water Stone, Calyx, Pluck!, Persimmon Tree, Fjord’s Review, The Little Patuxent Review and the 2015 anthology Blues Vision: African American Writing from Minnesota. She holds a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence and an M.A. from Goddard. Born in Petersburg, Virginia to parents on the faculty of then-segregated Virginia State College, she was as immersed in their artistic and intellectual interests as she was in limitations segregation imposed on her black world. She re-rooted as faculty at Minnesota’s Carleton College where she was founder and director of the Dance Program.

This activity is supported by a Seeding Vitality Arts MN grant from Aroha Philanthropies.

TU Dance Company Showing – Friday, April 12th

In anticipation of the TU Dance 15th Anniversary Spring Concert at The O’Shaughnessy on May 3-5, 2019, please join Artistic Directors Toni Pierce-Sands and Uri Sands for an informal in-studio showing celebrating TU Dance’s 15th anniversary performance season. The showing will feature excerpts from the spring concert program, an unprecedented evening of works by legendary choreographers that have given form to the shared vision of TU Dance founding Artistic Directors Toni Pierce-Sands and Uri Sands.

The performance program will include two works by renowned modern dance pioneer Alvin Ailey. Night Creature (1974), “a bubbly champagne cocktail of a dance”, celebrates Duke Ellington’s “sparkling music”. In Witness (1986), inspired by a recording of traditional spirituals sung by Jessye Norman, “…a female soloist embarks on a spiritual journey that echoes the repeated lyric ‘my soul is a witness for my Lord.’” The program also features Urban Bush Women Founding Artistic Director Jawole Willa Jo Zollar’s Walking with Pearl…Africa Diaries (2004)—a tribute to dance anthropologist Pearl Primus—narrated live by Ms. Zollar during the TU Dance performances, and a reprise of Ronald K. Brown’s Where The Light Shines Through (2017) originally created for TU Dance, which tells a story of solidarity and perseverance.

FRIDAY | April 12, 2019

Doors open at 5:00pm. Showing begins at 5:30pm. This event is free and open to the public.

TU Dance’s 15th Anniversary Season is supported in part by generous gifts from the Rosemary and David Good Family Foundation, The Saint Paul Cultural STAR Program and the Markell C. Brooks Fund for Dance of The Minneapolis Foundation with production support from The O’Shaughnessy.

TU Dance Center is located at 2121 University Avenue West, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55114. Find us on the north side of University Avenue, one block east of Vandalia, located directly behind Subway on the building’s east side. Limited parking is available in the lot in front of TU Dance Center. Additional parking is available in the Subway overflow parking lot located east of the TU Dance Center parking lot and in the north side lot accessible by taking a right on Vandalia and a right on Charles.

Photo by Michael Slobodian ©

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