Dance Transforms Lives: A fundraiser for The School at TU Dance Center featuring Laura Kane Scher Photography

TU Dance is partnering with photographer Laura Kane Scher to raise funds for The School at TU Dance Center. For the last few years, Laura has been photographing our Children & Teen and Pre-Professional Program students in the studio and on stage as well as social events, capturing beautiful moments of our beloved TU Dance Center Community.

Laura’s unique eye grabs the essence of each fleeting moment for the world to enjoy, memorializing it for a lifetime. As you take a tour through the photo galleries, we hope that you are inspired to bring home photos of the students you care about, and if possible, consider giving an extra donation. 75% of the proceeds from this fundraiser will go to support The School at TU Dance Center. Your purchase helps to ensure that The School at TU Dance Center continues to be a home for dance education, supporting scholarships for students and a robust offering of programs. We at TU Dance nurture the human connection through the power of dance. Thank you for your support!

Visit the galleries by clicking the image below!

Laura is offering another fundraising option for TU Dance families and the entire TU Dance community. She will be donating 25% of all photo sessions booked between July 25 – August 25, to be shot before January 1, 2021.  Please mention TU Dance when booking. For more information click here.

LEARN MORE ABOUT LAURA KANE SCHER

Laura Kane Scher is an accomplished documentary photographer who studied photography at the renowned Film in the Cities (FITC) program, worked in the photo department at the Star Tribune for 12 years and has had her own photography business for several years.

“I was drawn to photography at a very young age because I always felt like an observer rather than a participant. When I received my first camera it felt like a natural extension of my body, and captured the lens through which I had been seeing the world.

My favorite subject to photograph has always been children. What draws me in is the purity, unfiltered joy, and the lack of self consciousness that young people have in front of a camera. I have found over the years photographing my daughter dance has been the same, so it was natural to offer my services to TU Dance. Shooting for The School at TU Dance Center has become one of my favorite projects because I get to capture dancers focused on their own emotions and movements and then portray that beauty to a broader audience through my images. The children at The School are expressing their true selves through their own art, and to marry their art with mine is something I find extremely beautiful.”, says Laura.

Toni Pierce-Sands, TU Dance’s Artistic Director and Laura grew up together at Saint Paul Open School, a small diverse K-12 school that started in 1971 by Laura’s mother and other parents, teachers and administrators, who wanted an educational option to the traditional school systems. Through Open School, Laura’s mother built a community around her family, welcoming her children’s friends and others to gather at her home. Toni, the dancer friend who Laura went to see as a child dancing The Nutcracker, became one of those extended family members.

Laura’s daughter Lucy, who has been dancing since she was very little, now studies at The School at TU Dance Center. Laura and Lucy learned about TU Dance through Toni. At TU Dance Center, both Lucy and Laura were able to find the community they were searching for, a place where Lucy could continue to grow as a dancer and a human. For Laura, “TU Dance is about everyone, individually and as a whole. The reason for starting the school was to provide opportunities to any child to dance no matter what their circumstance or resources are. TU Dance embraces us all and has become a family on its own. A family that we consider ours, and a second home for most – just like my mom’s house was.”

Visit Laura’s blog about the photo fundraiser.

Intersect Summer Intensive, August 3-8

Evidence, A Dance Company and TU Dance join forces in an inspiring 1-week virtual Summer Intensive. Intersect (to meet and cross at a point/to share a common area), is an open level inter-generational Summer Intensive for participants with a wide range to no dance experience that will provide the opportunity to experience both companies’ approaches to dance and dance training.

Participants will begin each day with classes from TU Dance Center teaching artists, including TU Dance Artistic Director Toni Pierce-Sands, that are grounded in TU Dance’s three pillars of Horton-based modern, West African and ballet. While these are commonly referred to as technique classes or training, TU Dance takes a look into how these dance forms intersect with one another and the many possibilities they offer. The goal of these classes is to prepare the dancer’s mind, body and spirit to be fully present, ready to receive and engage, tap into different energies and feel prepared to move openly into what follows. The workshop section of this intensive will be led by Evidence, A Dance Company Artistic Director Ronald K. Brown and Associate Artistic Director Arcell Cabuag. Participants will learn Evidence repertory as well as Afro-Cuban and traditional and contemporary African dance techniques that are incorporated in the choreographic style.

The Intersect Summer Intensive will conclude with a discussion between teaching artists and students followed by a celebratory class open to the community. See the Intersect Summer Intensive Daily Schedule here. All classes will be provided via Zoom.

August 3-8, 2020 | Registration deadline extended: Sunday – August 2, 2020

Cost: $500 (inclusive of the registration fee). A limited number of scholarships will be offered. To apply for an scholarship please complete this form by July 29.

To learn more and to register visit Intersect at http://www.tudance.org/summer/

Read the press release here.

Mural Making in Times of Resilience

A mural has been created to transform the boards that have been protecting TU Dance Center since the riots that occurred in the Twin Cities following the murder of George Floyd in collaboration between TU Dance Center students and artist/dancer/choreographer, Lela Pierce and graffiti artist Kyle Alexander, with contributions by TU Dance Center teaching artist Herb Johnson III and community artist Pramila Vasudevan. This will be a space for our community to process the grief, sadness and anger felt by our community during this time and also a space to express our unwavering belief that black and brown lives matter and our hope for the future that we imagine is possible.

Please feel free to drive by TU Dance Center to see the front entrance mural before the boards are removed. The window boards have been stored inside the building. The full art work will be displayed inside TU Dance Center and available for viewing once the space is reopened.

(see mural making photo gallery below)

Meet the Artists:

Lela Pierce was born and raised in rural Minnesota on Dakota and Anishinaabe land. She currently resides in South Minneapolis. As an interdisciplinary artist, she creates painting, performance/dance, sculptural installation and sound based work. Through practice she strives toward a deep rooted connection to land and place and a deep yearning for ancestral healing. Lela has presented work locally at several different Twin Cities venues and internationally in both Sweden and India. She is a Jerome Emerging Artist recipient 2018 and is currently pursuing an MFA in the interdisciplinary art and social practice area of the Art Department of the University of Minnesota.

McKnight Fellow, Herb Johnson III Aka JDot Tight Eyez graduated from Perpich Center for the Performing Arts in 2010 and studied 3 years at the Lundstrum Center for Arts. Herb is now at the University of Minnesota as an Urban & Street dance instructor. He currently choreographs and performs solo and in groups 612 Crew, DeadPool, and Mixtape. Professional work includes iLuminate from America’s Got Talent, Choreographing G-Easy’sHalftime show 2018, and SuperBowl 52 half-time Show 2018 with Justin Timberlake. Herb began teaching for The School at TU Dance Center in Fall 2019.

Kyle Alexander was born in Chicago and raised in South Minneapolis. He is an avid skateboarder and loves to listen to music, paint and hang with friends. In recent weeks he and his friends have painted several boarded up storefronts in Minneapolis – responding to the Murder of George Floyd in graffiti style. Kyle finds inspiration and a sense of being grounded through the love and care of his mother and grandmother and the relationships he has built with community members on the Southside.

The Time Is Now.

This is a distressing time in our history. We watched the brutal murder of an unarmed, black man on the streets of Minneapolis on video on Monday, May 25, adding to the United States’ legacy of police victimizing its black citizenry. TU Dance is proud to be a black-led organization based in Saint Paul, Minnesota. We have received a great deal of support from our community while remaining steadfast in the pursuit of equal access to ALL PEOPLE to world-class dance that transforms us and connects us to our shared humanity. At the same time, we are hurting right now because we cannot deny that humanity is upheld for some, but not all of us.

Here at TU Dance, we are asking ourselves: What more can we do?

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King

We ask that you join us in the pursuit of justice for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor and countless others black, brown and trans people whose names are not forgotten.

Many Twin Cities businesses have been burned down, constricting and in some cases eliminating families’ access to food and essential household items. Here is a resource sheet connecting you to places that are providing help in the Twin Cities. Taking a more long-term approach to the systemic issues we face, consider joining and supporting Campaign Zero. From their website, “Funds donated to Campaign Zero support the analysis of policing practices across the country, research to identify effective solutions to end police violence, technical assistance to organizers leading police accountability campaigns and the development of model legislation and advocacy to end police violence nationwide.”

Within the TU Dance community, we continue to offer dance classes keeping in mind those who need to connect with others and find healing through making art. We are Taking time and space to reset with elder community member, Ms. Mary K. Boyd. We plan to create a Facebook group as a network, support system and resource sharing platform for our families, teachers, accompanists and staff during this time. Our students will also be reflecting on written prompts and collaborating with artists from the graffiti community to create a mural on the plywood boards that are currently protecting TU Dance Center. The intention is that this artwork will stand as a reminder of this time and part of the landscape once our doors are open again.

We are here to remind you that dance will always matter to us and that you matter to us. Continue to take care of yourselves during this time, and as you have the ability to do so, please lend a hand. The social and political framework that condones systemic white violence against black and brown bodies in this country must come to an end. The time is now.

“The time is always right to do what is right.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King JR

From all of us at TU Dance

Support TU Dance During the Give-At-Home-MN Campaign

Greetings from TU Dance!

We hope you and your loved ones are well. 

TU Dance, like most nonprofits, businesses, and individuals has been impacted by the effects of the current situation. Since the beginning, our concern and response has been filled with compassion and care. We continue to fulfill our mission by working to:

  • Ensure everyone remains safe
  • Ensure our TU Dance Center students continue to dance and be inspired
  • Ensure our Staff, Dancers, Teaching Artists, Accompanists, and others who depend on TU Dance are considered in our decision making
  • Ensure we continue to listen to the needs of our community 

As we deal with the ever changing situation, some decisions have not been easy. We were saddened that the company Spring Season at The Cowles Center, which included four world premieres, had to be cancelled due to gathering restrictions. Several TU Dance Experiences –our field trip program to TU Dance Center– were cancelled, as well as the TU Dance Center Spring Student Showcase, which was scheduled for June 13. All of these cancellations have a direct impact on our students, artists, patrons, and the community at large.

The School at TU Dance Center programs were reimagined to an online platform. We were amazed by the courage, passion, and creativity of our staff, teaching artists, and accompanists. They dedicated many hours to learn, reinvent, and adapt to this new reality. Since the classes were transferred to the virtual world, we are proud that:

  • Our Pre-Professional and Children & Teen programs’ previous enrollment has remained consistent, while new students have been joining our programs. Currently 158 students are taking classes online!
  • 24 teachers and 11 accompanists continue to be employed. 
  • The financial aid application process has been reopened and we have allocated additional funds beyond what was originally budgeted to our TU Dance Access Fund to aid families affected by the current circumstances.
  • We reduced the tuition of new adult and Dancing Together workshops by 33%.
  • We offered, in collaboration with teaching artist DejaJoelle, Quarantine Love: Self-Care During a Pandemic, a workshop specially created in response to the current situation.
  • We are offering three free weekly online classes with an average participation of 30 local, national, and international students.

The loss of revenue from unrealized performance ticket sales, educational programming cancellations, reduced tuition fees, hosting open community classes at no charge and increased financial aid, among other things, has created stress on TU Dance’s finances. Meanwhile, our commitment to the community has not ceased. We have taken every effort to support our artists during this difficult time. With imagination, we’ve continued to fulfill our mission and remain steadfast with the connective power of dance. 

From May 1- 8, TU Dance joins the GiveMN’s #GiveAtHomeMN campaign. We invite you to participate in building this new chapter of our story. Your contribution to TU Dance willhelp us maintain and create new and needed programming while we support all of those who make TU Dance’s mission a reality. Please consider making a donation to TU Dance by visiting: www.givemn.org/organization/TU-Dance

Together we will get through this!

All of us at TU Dance

Come Through on MN Original by TPT

Watch the beautiful mini documentary created by TPT for their MN Original series to be aired on TV later this fall.

Come Through was commissioned by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music Series with support from the Knight Foundation Arts Challenge – Saint Paul and The City of Saint Paul Cultural STAR Program.

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