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:

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

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 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.

Investigating Composition: A Workshop Series


Please join us for a 3-Day Workshop Series with Uri Sands, Leslie Parker and Laurel Keen. Participants will begin each day with a brief class or warm-up followed by a workshop format including improvisation, phrase work and discussion. There will be a common thread of composition investigation throughout the series. Sands, Parker and Keen will each bring their own insights into how they view the creative process and tools that can be utilized in the making of new work, whether you are a maker, a dancer or both.  

Open to advanced pre-professional students and professional dancers. 

Wednesday, April 3, 5:00-7:30pm with Uri Sands
Thursday, April 4, 5:00-7:30pm with Laurel Keen
Friday, April 5, 5:00-7:30pm with Leslie Parker

Cost: $150

Uri Sands (TU Dance Artistic Director and Choreographer) has received national recognition for choreography that is notable for the fusion of classical elegance with edgy contemporary action, for pulsating intensity with poetic lyricism. A native of Miami, Uri trained at New World School of the Arts, and performed as a principal dancer with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for five years, Philadanco, Minnesota Dance Theatre, James Sewell Ballet, as principal dancer with North Carolina Dance Theatre, and as guest artist with Complexions under the direction of Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson. His choreographic commissions include, among others, Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, Alonzo King LINES Ballet BFA at Dominican University of California, Dance St. Louis, VocalEssence, Zenon Dance, Penumbra Theatre, North Carolina Dance Theatre and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Uri has received the Princess Grace Award in choreography, the Joyce Foundation Award and the McKnight Artist Fellowship in Choreography. He was named City Pages’ 2011 Choreographer of the Year, and–along with Toni-Pierce-Sands–the 2010 StarTribune Artist of the Year. Uri was recently named as a 2015 USA Fellow, receiving the Knight Fellowship in Dance together with TU Dance co-founder Toni Pierce-Sands.

Leslie Parker (TU Dance Center Guest Teaching Artist) is a dance artist/maker, improviser, performer, and educator with an archive of embodied memories of 34 years of studying, researching, teaching and performing contemporary and sacred dance practices of the African Diaspora. Informally, her training is credited to a fierce community of activists, organizers, and artists who emphasize the significance of community while restoring and/or maintaining its vibrancy. Formally, she holds a BFA in Dance and Choreography from Esther Boyer College of Music and Dance and an MFA in Dance from Hollins University in partnership with The Kunstlerhaus Mousonturm, The Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts and The Dresden Frankfurt Dance Company. She is a 2017 Bessie Award winner for Outstanding Performer and was recently awarded the Jerome Foundation’s 2019-2020 Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship.

Laurel Keen (School Director, TU Dance Center) began her training with Minnesota Dance Theatre and went on to study at School of American Ballet, Dance Aspen School and Pacific Northwest Ballet School. After performing professionally with Minnesota Dance Theatre, she spent a decade alongside Alonzo King as a company member with LINES Ballet in San Francisco, where she originated 21 roles, toured extensively throughout the U.S. and internationally, earned the prestigious Princess Grace Award, and was featured on the covers of Dance and Pointe magazines. Laurel moved back to the Twin Cities in 2011 and earned her degree as a physical therapist assistant from St. Catherine University and worked with Reynolds Rehab Physical Therapy and Orthology Physical Therapy. Laurel has taught for TU Dance, Minnesota Dance Theatre, Alonzo King LINES Ballet and the University of Minnesota and has served as School Director at TU Dance Center since 2015 under Artistic Directors Toni Pierce-Sands and Uri Sands.

Photo: Laura Scher

Bharatanatyam Master Class with Ragamala Dance Company, March 23

Please join Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy for a Bharatanatyam master class at TU Dance Center.

Taught by Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy of Ragamala Dance Company, this master class introduces participants to the Pandanallur lineage of Bharatanatyam, focusing on the rhythmic, gestural, and expressive vocabularies that are the underpinnings of the form. In addition to active instruction, the class explores concepts of lineage, aesthetics, the close relationship between music and movement in Bharatanatyam, the evolution of culturally rooted art forms, and their ongoing relevance in the 21st century. This class is open to any level of experience.

Saturday, March 23 | 2:00-3:30pm

Cost: $16, online pre-registration required.

Student Name:

Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy are Artistic Directors of Ragamala Dance Company, founded by Ranee in the Twin Cities in 1992. As choreographers and performers, they explore the dynamic tension between the ancestral and the contemporary, highlighting the fluidity between the secular and the spiritual, the inner and the outer, the human and the natural. Their training in the South Indian classical dance form of Bharatanatyam under legendary dancer/choreographer Alarmél Valli, known as one of India’s greatest living masters, is the bedrock of their creative aesthetic.

Most recently, Ranee and Aparna were awarded 2018 Guggenheim Fellowships and selected as 2017 Research Fellows by the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center (Italy). Their work has been commissioned by Lincoln Center, the Krannert Center for Performing Arts, the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, and the Walker Art Center, and presented by the Kennedy Center, Joyce Theater, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, American Dance Festival, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, International Festival of Arts and Ideas, University Musical Society, Cal Performances, Just Festival (Edinburgh, U.K.), Bali Arts Festival (Indonesia), and National Centre for Performing Arts (Mumbai, India), among others.

Ranee currently serves on the National Council on the Arts, appointed by President Barack Obama. She is a recipient of a 2014 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, a 2012 United States Artists Fellowship, and a 2011 McKnight Distinguished Artist Award.

Aparna is a recipient of a 2016 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, a 2016 Joyce Award, a Bush Fellowship for Choreography, and was selected as one of Dance Magazine’s 25 to Watch for 2010.

This event is part of the Ragamala Rooted community engagement series. Ragamala Rooted is supported in part by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation through the Knight St. Paul Arts Challenge, the Mardag Foundation, the F.R. Bigelow Foundation, The Saint Paul Foundation, Target, and the City of St. Paul Cultural Sales Tax Revitalization Program.

Photo credit: Grant Halverson

Master Class with Marjani Forté-Saunders – March 2

Join visiting guest artist Marjani Forté-Saunders for a master class for Intermediate/Advanced students at TU Dance Center.

Marjani is pleased to be visiting TU Dance on behalf of Urban Bush Women. Her Contemporary Forms class will ground students in the African Diasporic and Modern Contemporary techniques that undergird both UBW’s repertory and Marjani’s embodiment of the work, as a veteran member of the touring company, and lead facilitator of UBW’s teaching arm.

Saturday, March 2 | 2:00-3:30pm

Cost: $16 pre-registration required

Student Name:

Marjani Forté-Saunders is a Mother, choreographer, performer, a collaborative artist, community organizer and most recently a 3 time Bessie award winning choreographer and performer, for her latest work Memoirs of a… Unicorn.  Anchored in a steady collaboration with partner and composer Everett Asis Saunders (New Music USA Awardee), the duo have produced seven award-winning projects over the last 10 yrs. Marjani is an Inaugural recipient of the UBW Choreographic Center Fellowship and a two-time Princess Grace Foundation awardee. Her work has been incubated in residencies at the Maggie Allesee National Choreographic Center (MANCC), Lower Manhattan Cultural Center Extended Life Residency, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, CUNY Dance Initiative, 651 Arts and Movement Research. Humbly, she defines her work by its lineage stemming from culturally rich, vibrant, historic, loving, irreverent conjurers!

Photo Credit: Ian Douglas

Contemporary Dance Classes with Ron K. Brown and Arcell Cabuag, February 11, 12 and 13

Join guest artists Ron K. Brown and Arcell Cabuag for a series of dance classes at TU Dance Center.

The master class is designed for intergenerational participants with a wide range to no dance experience.  Classes begin center floor with an emphasis on alignment, rhythm and using the body to express ideas and themes; strength, prayer, and celebration.

Open classes for beginning/intermediate/advanced dancers begin with meditation and floor work that includes stretching and mind-body centering exercises. Center floor work or barre work includes alignment and the introduction of the various dance techniques that are incorporated in the vocabulary of Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE, A Dance Company. Phrases across the floor use influences from the western modern dance as well as traditional and social dances from West Africa, the Caribbean, and the US.

Morning open classes: Monday, February 11 with Ron K. Brown and Wednesday, February 13 with Arcell Cabuag, 9:30-11:00am

Master class: Tuesday, February 12 with Ron K. Brown, 4:30-6:00pm

Cost: $14/open class payable at the door (class cards accepted). $16 for the masterclass, pre-registration required.

Student Name:

(pre-register only for Master Class)

Ron K. Brown’s bio.

Arcell Cabuag’s bio.

Gaga Masterclass with Danielle Agami, February 6

Join Ate9 Artistic Director and Choreographer Danielle Agami for a Gaga masterclass at TU Dance Center. Gaga is a new way of gaining knowledge and self-awareness through your body, providing a framework for discovering and strengthening your body and adding flexibility, stamina, and agility while stimulating the senses and imagination. Gaga raises awareness of physical weaknesses, awakens numb areas, exposes physical fixations, and offers pathways for their elimination. The research improves instinctive movement and connects conscious and unconscious movement, and it allows for an experience of freedom and pleasure in a simple way. It is experienced in a pleasant space, comfortable clothes, accompanied by music, and with each person with him/herself and others.

Danielle Agami’s Gaga class is one session, no pauses or exercises, of a continuity of instructions with one on top of the other. Each instruction does not cancel the previous one but is added to it, layer upon layer. Therefore, it is important not to stop in the middle of the session. If participants get tired or want to work at another pace, they can always lower the volume, work 30% or 20%, float, or rest, but they are encouraged not to lose sensations that were already awakened. Attempt to not return to the state the body was in before the class started. It is important that everyone take the instructions gently into their bodies while being aware to its sensations, abilities, and limitations. It is encouraged to go to places where the pleasure in movement is awakened and not to places of pain and to maintain the connection to pleasure especially during effort (effort is different than pain). During the session, speaking is not allowed unless participants are instructed to use their voice or words. If participants have any questions, you are welcome to bring them up at the end of the session.

Wednesday, February 6, 10:30am-12:00pm

Cost: $14.00; cash, check (made payable to TU Dance) or debit/credit card at TU Dance Center. Class cards are accepted.

There is no late entry for the class. Please arrive on time.

Presented in association with Northrop, University of Minnesota and Walker Art Center in conjunction with the Ate9 performance on February 7 at Northrop.

Danielle Agami (Ate9 Artistic Director and Choreographer) was born in Israel in 1984 where she studied at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance and was a member of the Batsheva Dance Company. Between 2007 and 2009, Agami served as the Artistic Director of Batsheva Dancers Create, and functioned as the company’s rehearsal director from 2008-2010. After 8 years with Batsheva, Agami moved to New York to serve as the Senior Manager of Gaga U.S.A. In 2012, Agami relocated to Seattle where she founded Ate9- an undertaking that has fully realized her artistic voice as a dancer, choreographer, and teacher. Danielle was the grand prize winner of the 2013 & 2014 Annual Choreography Festival at the McCallum Theatre and one of Dance Magazine’s Top 25 to watch in 2015. In 2016, she was recognized with the Princess Grace Award for Choreography and created a new work, Pick a Chair, with Visceral Dance in Chicago. Agami has made over 8 fully produced works with Ate9 since its inception, including the innovative new work calling glenn with live music by Wilco percussionist Glenn Kotche. Agami was also named as the 2018 recipient of the Virginia B. Toulmin Fellowship for Women Choreographers. During the fellowship she developed “Framed”, a solo performance, and researched a new Ballet class inspired by her years of experience with Gaga Movement Language.

Photo by Cheryl Mann

Adult Beginning Modern Workshop with Thern Anderson (Midday), Spring 2019

This 8-week workshop with Thern will teach body and spacial awareness, rhythm and phrasing, ensemble dancing and injury prevention through modern dance patterns and improvisation.

Thern Anderson started dancing at the University of Minnesota and has performed with Choreogram Dance Company, Spira, Oregon Dance Consort, and most recently performed as an independent artist with Marciano Silva dos Santos, Offleash Area, Lori Mercil, and Paula Mann. She has taught to all ages and abilities in Washington, DC, Portland, OR and Minneapolis, MN.

Mondays, 12:00-1:30pm

Session 1: January 28 – March 18
Session 2: April 8 – June 3 (no classes May 27 for Memorial Day)

Cost: $112.00 (pre-registration required)

To register, please complete the registration form and proceed to make an online payment below.

Please select one option below :
Student Name:


Adult Beginning Modern Workshop with Thern Anderson (Evenings), Spring 2019

This 8-week workshop with Thern will teach body and spacial awareness, rhythm and phrasing, ensemble dancing and injury prevention through modern dance patterns and improvisation.

Thern Anderson started dancing at the University of Minnesota and has performed with Choreogram Dance Company, Spira, Oregon Dance Consort, and most recently performed as an independent artist with Marciano Silva dos Santos, Offleash Area, Lori Mercil, and Paula Mann. She has taught to all ages and abilities in Washington, DC, Portland, OR and Minneapolis, MN.

Wednesdays, 6:00-7:30pm

Session 1: January 30 – March 20
Session 2: April 10 – May 29

Cost: $112.00 (pre-registration required)

To register, please complete the registration form and proceed to make an online payment below.

Sessions (please select one option below) :
Student Name:

Adult Beginning Ballet Workshop with Tina Anderson, Spring 2019

This ballet technique 8-week workshop emphasizes alignment, placement and somatic awareness.  The class consists of barre and center work that focuses on balance, classical line, connecting steps, and simple turns and jumps.

Tina Anderson Wallum’s 23-year performing career included principal and soloist work with Minnesota Dance Theatre, Ballet Minnesota, Ballet Arts Minnesota, Ballet of the Dolls, Savannah Ballet, The Contemporary Ballet Company, and Pennsylvania Ballet. She holds her BS from Radford University in Virginia. She has taught ballet classes for Ballet Arts Minnesota, Ballet Minnesota, Classical Ballet Academy, Chinese Dance Theater and is currently teaching at the University of Minnesota. Her current scholarly research is in Mind-Body Centering and somatics where she is devoted to creating a sense of embodiment in her students.

Tuesdays, 12:00-1:30pm

Session 1: January 29 – March 19
Session 2: April 9 – May 28

Cost: $112.00 (pre-registration required)

To register, please complete the registration form and proceed to make an online payment below.

Sessions (please select one option below) :
Student Name:

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