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

Flow Space Classes with Guest Artist Gregory Dolbashian, February 11, 15 & 18

Join us for Flow Space, an atmosphere that allows for the act of “pure play” to help dance artists use more capacity, intellect, sense, courage, and imagination in their movement styles. Conducted by director of The DASH Ensemble, Gregory Dolbashian, the class is a highly developed series of improvisational tools and games that warms and pushes both the mind and the body to break habits and fulfill more presence. These exercises are all methods that Gregory has developed and utilized to create movement with The DASH. The artists learn confidence not just in themselves but also in the environment that they are a part of. Games and tasks work both on the individual and in tandem, so that Flow Space creates a community for progress, inspiration, and most of all, discovery. Classes are for dancers aged 16+.

Open/Company Classes: Tuesdays, February 11 & 18 | 9:30-11:00am
Cost: $15/class or $130/10-class card; payable by cash, check, debit/credit card, or class card at TUDC.

Master Class: Saturday, February 15 | 2:00-3:30pm
Cost: $18; online pre-registration recommended below.

Student Name & Email Address:

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 and in the north side lot accessible by Vandalia and Charles (master class only).

Photo by Joseph Heitman.

Guest Artist Bio:
GREGORY DOLBASHIAN – Born and raised in New York City, Gregory made his professional stage debut at the age of eight with the Glimmerglass Opera Company and in the Philip Glass/Robert Wilson world tour of Einstein on the Beach. Gregory received his dance training at the Alvin Ailey School, then graduated cum laude from SUNY Purchase dance conservatory. He debuted his own company The DASH Ensemble, in December 2010 at The JOYCE SoHo. The Company has gone on to perform at The JOYCE Theater, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Guggenheim Works and Process Series, Kaatsbaan International Dance Center, Central Park Summer Stage, Jacob’s Pillow, as well as domestic touring all over the U.S. including Dallas, L.A., and North Carolina. He is also the co-founder of The DASH Academy, a developmental training ground for young artists ages 9-18.

Artistic awards include winner of The Pretty Creatives Competition for Northwest Dance Project and The Hubbard Street 2 International Choreographic Competition, second place in Ballet Austin’s New American Talent competition,the audience prize at DanceNOW at Joe’s pub in 2014 and again in 2017. Company commissions include Atlanta Ballet, TU Dance in Minnesota, Owen/Cox, Zenon Dance Company, Ballet Austin, LA Contemporary Dance Company, Hubbard Street 2, St. Louis Ballet, Dark Circles Contemporary Dance in Dallas, Northwest Dance Project in Portland Oregon, Dance Ethos in Pennsylvania and St. Louis Ballet. Dolbashian has also received commissions from American Dance Festival as a featured choreographer in The Footprints Program, from the city of New York for a large scale commision in Madison Square Park and also has created multiple works for principals and soloists of American Ballet Theater premiering both nationally and internationally including Jeffrey Cirio, Daniil Simkin, Hee -Seo, and Hamptons Dance Project. College commissions include the Juilliard School, NYU Tisch, SUNY Purchase, Troy University, The Hartt School, Point Park, Fordham/ Ailey, Long Island University, University of Hawaii, Florida Southern College and James Madison University. Dolbashian also teaches workshops and creates work at competitive studios around the U.S. Also at professional training programs including LINES Ballet, E.M.I.A, Mid Pacific Arts Institute, Booker T Washington HSPVA, and also HSPVA in Houston, and MOVENYC. 

As a soloist and performer, Gregory has performed in multiple DASH repertory shows. His solo work was also presented at American Dance Festival in his one man show Awkward Magic. In addition to his choreography, Gregory, alongside fellow choreographer Loni Landon, is the co-founder of The PlaygroundNYC, a choreographic initiative that was voted 25 to Watch in 2013 by Dance Magazine. 

Dancing Your Story Workshop, September 9-November 4

Join teaching artists Thern Anderson & Mary Moore Easter in an 8-week dance and writing workshop with curriculum designed for adults ages 55+ at Rondo Community Library. 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 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 the workshop.

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

September 9-November 4 | Mondays, 2:30-4:00pm (No class on October 14-library closed.)
Rondo Community Library, 461 Dale St N, St Paul, MN 55103 (Multipurpose Room)

Sample class: Monday, August 19, 4:00-5:30pm at Kings Crossing, 500 Dale St N, St Paul, MN 55103

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

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 Center Open House & Summer Intensive Showcase, August 17

On Saturday, August 17, please join us for an Open House from 10:00am-1:00pm and Advanced Pre-Professional Summer Intensive Showcase from 2:00-3:15pm at TU Dance Center. 

Students who are interested in enrolling in fall classes at TU Dance Center will have the opportunity to take sample classes, tour the facilities, ask questions about our programs and register! 

Sample Class Schedule 

  • Open Children’s Sample Class, 10:00-10:30am
  • Open Teen/Adult Sample Class, 10:30-11:15am
  • Open Boys Sample Class, 11:15am-12:00pm

Following the Open House, please join us for the Summer Intensive Showcase featuring Advanced Pre-Professional Summer Intensive students sharing new works created by Artistic Director Uri Sands and visiting guest artists Maurya Kerr and Marcus Jarrell Willis. 

Saturday, August 17
Open House, 10:00am-1:00pm
Showcase, 2:00-3:15pm
TU Dance Center
2121 University Ave. W., St. Paul MN, 55114

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 north side lot accessible by taking Vandalia and Charles.

Photo by Laura Scher.

Guest Artist bios

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 the 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. Willis 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. 

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