TU Dance Center 2017 Student Showcase, June 9-11

Artistic Directors Toni Pierce-Sands and Uri Sands, and School Director Laurel Keen invite you to the TU Dance Center 2017 Student Showcase.  Students from the Children & Teen, and Pre-Professional divisions will be featured in several works by TU Dance Center teaching artists and TU Dance company dancers. Please join us in celebrating these young dancers and all of their hard work!

Friday, June 9 – 7:00pm
Saturday, June 10 – 7:00pm
Sunday, June 11 – 2:00pm

Tickets: $15 (includes a $2 processing fee)

For more information and to purchase tickets click here.

TU Dance Center Bake Sale, June 3

The TU Dance Center annual bake sale will be held on Saturday, June 3rd, from 9:00am-5:00pm at TU Dance Center.  All proceeds support TU Dance Center student performances, June 9-11 at the Rarig Center on the University of Minnesota West Bank campus.

Please join us and invite your family and friends to this event- the more the merrier!
Unable to attend? Consider a monetary donation here.

TU Dance triumphs in new dance at Ordway, StarTribune Dance Review

TU Dance triumphed at the Ordway in St. Paul on Saturday. Between works of spiritually uplifting grandeur and politically charged emotion, intimate demonstrations of highly technical skill and incredible ensemble work, the evening — which included a world premiere and three recent repertory pieces — took the audience for a sweeping ride.

The Ordway co-commissioned Ronald K. Brown’s premiere, “Where The Light Shines Through,” along with the Rosemary and David Good Family Foundation. It featured a rare solo by TU’s co-Artistic Director Uri Sands, who demonstrated his incredible polyrhythmic genius. With arms and shoulders, knees, hips and feet all going in different directions and at different speeds, Sands brought joy and vivacity to Brown’s West African-influenced movement.

Even in the most complicated sequences, the dancers in the piece made their work appear effortless. They were dressed in luxuriously ornamented costumes designed by Keiko Voltaire, which added to the work’s sense of ceremony.

Countering Brown’s hopeful and spirited work, Sands’ “Matter,” which premiered in 2016, went to much darker and more sinister places.

Teeming with bare symbolism, Sands unleashed a raw declaration as he explored America’s violent history in regards to race.

Dancers were draped in American flags. A giant image of the White House slowly shrank from view. The dancers simulated getting beaten, holding their hands to protect their faces. They grapevined, backs to the audience, in slow motion across the stage, as if targets in a shooting range. Through the hip-hop-influenced choreo­graphy and a devastating solo by Alanna Morris-Van Tassel, “Matter” spoke to brutal realities that persist in our society.

The two other pieces — “Footprint” by Gioconda Barbuto and the dancers from 2015, and “Candle” by Kyle Abraham, which premiered in 2016, highlighted TU’s magnificent work as an ensemble and their unparalleled individual dancers.

“Footprint” showed the ensemble at its best. With its jazzy, brooding beginning, the dancers slid, snapped and spiraled. They were then affected by a sickness. The contorted movements of one infected the others. The movements spread from one dancer to another like wildfire. Dressed in kilts and futuristic wear designed by Sonya Berlovitz in collaboration with choreographer and co-Artistic Director Toni Pierce-Sands, they moved as an amorphous whole.

“Candle,” meanwhile, gave the opportunity for some of TU’s top dancers to truly show their luster. Alexis Staley gave a mesmerizing performance, while Randall Riley and Christian Warner proved a delight in a duet that showed that despite their vastly varying heights, they were born to perform with each other.

Sheila Regan is a Minneapolis arts writer.

Source: http://www.startribune.com/new-dance-at-ordway-inspired-by-west-african-movement/420846403/

TU Dance receives a Dance/USA Engaging Dance Audiences Grant

We are honored to be among 21 national organizations receiving the Dance/USA Engaging Dance Audiences Grant.  “Building on past rounds, the emphasis in this fourth round of EDA is on refining existing engagement programs that have shown success at reaching dance audiences and communities.”

Read the press release here.

TU Dance will train diverse young students enrolled in our programs at TU Dance Center as Audience Ambassadors, to engage 125 diverse adults (some of whom have never attended a professional dance concert) as dance performance audiences, and learn from their experience.

Engaging Dance Audiences is administered by Dance/USA and made possible with generous funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.


Improvisation class with Hijack, April-May 2017

HIJACK is the choreographic collaboration of Kristin Van Loon & Arwen Wilder. Van Loon & Wilder each grew up in Chicago, met at Colorado College, and established their collaboration in Minneapolis in 1993. HIJACK will be teaching a series of classes at TU Dance Center.

Saturdays, April 29 and May 6, 20 and 27


Cost: $14/class or class cards

HIJACK has taught and performed in New York (at DTW, PS122, HERE ArtCenter, Catch/Movement Research Festival, La Mama, Dixon Place, Chocolate Factory, Brooklyn Studios for Dance), Japan, Russia, Central America, Ottawa, Chicago, Colorado, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Seattle, San Francisco, Iowa, Portland at Bates Festival, Fuse Box Festival and Seattle Festival for Dance Improvisation (SFDI).  HIJACK teaches Composition/Improvisation/Contact Improvisation at the University of Minnesota. They have taught Improvisation/Contact Improvisation at Zenon Dance School every Wednesday morning since 2000.  With Body Cartography, HIJACK co-curates Future Interstates, a bi-monthly showcase for improvisation dance performance, at the Cowles Center for Dance and Performing Arts. In 2013, Walker Art Center celebrated the 20th anniversary of HIJACK by commissioning the full-evening work “redundant, ready, reading, radish, Red Eye”.  In 2014, Contact Quarterly published the chapbook “Passing For Dance — a HIJACK reader”.  HIJACK is currently “occupying” the Walker Art Center Mediatheque: making and performing dances in a small cinema with avant garde film.

TU Dance named “Best Dance Company” by City Pages – Best of the Twin Cities 2017!

Best Dance Company

TU Dance

The TU dancers continue to electrify the local scene, especially in their performance of Uri Sands’ Matter last November. The work drew on the dancers’ personal responses to recent instances of violence and racism with urgency. Sands’ complex choreography requires the exacting clarity of ballet melded with scrappy street smarts and urban syncopations. The 10 TU dancers met these demands and raised the ante, moving with the buoyancy of swimmers and the brazen attack of Katniss Everdeen on a mission, demonstrating that they felt equally at home in the air or on the ground. Within the communal framework of Matter, dancers showed startling individuality: Kaitlen Setzke Bell’s blend of precision and wildness, Youthen Joseph’s snaky street grace, Darwin Black’s effortless cool. Perhaps Alanna Morris-Van Tassel best captured the spirit of Matter in a solo where, wrapped in an American flag, she presented a body unhinged, vulnerable, and despairing.


Midday Adult Beginning Modern with Thern Anderson, May 1-22

This 4-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 perform with Choreogram Dance Company.  She has taught to all ages and abilities in Washington, DC, Portland, OR and Minneapolis, MN.

Mondays, May 1-22, 12:00-1:30pm

Cost: $55 (pre-registration required)

Student Name:

Modern class with Robin Stiehm, April 26

Robin Stiehm’s class will utilize a diverse range of movement techniques, reflecting her varied dance experiences of over 40 years. Students will find a release into the floor, leading to strong standing movement and finally full-bodied airborne dancing. Class will begin with a basic alignment-focused warm-up, preparing the dancer for phrase work, partnering and improvisation exercises.

Wednesday, April 26 | 4:30-6:00pm
Cost: $14/class or class card

Robin Stiehm received her early training at the Minnesota Dance Theatre, under the direction of Loyce Houlton. She danced with MDT, New Dance Ensemble, and many others in Minneapolis before forming her own group, Dancing People Company, in 1994. After DPC’s decade in Mpls., Robin moved the company to Ashland, OR where she was Artistic Director for another 13 years before stepping down. Robin has choreographed for over 25 years, both with Dancing People and companies in the US. With DPC, Robin has toured extensively and taught at international festivals and universities in Russia, Europe and the US. She is currently on the faculty of the Escuela Profesional de Danza de Mazatlan and also guest teaches in the US.

Open Class with Eva Mohn, April 12

Cullberg Ballet dancer and former TU Dance Company member Eva Mohn returns to the Twin Cities to teach this Wednesday, April 12th from 9:30-11:00am. Advanced/Professional Contemporary Class exploring both barre and center work.

Cost: $14/class, $120/10-class card (cash, check or credit card).

To learn more about Eva, please visit: http://www.cullbergbaletten.se/en/eva-mohn

Photo by Urban Jörén

Dance unites Minneapolis high school students from opposite sides of the city, by Beena Raghavendran, Star Tribune, April 5, 2017

Under ordinary circumstances, the 40 students from North and Southwest high schools would never have met. Ten miles of Minneapolis and a world of differences divide them.

But there they were, twisting and leaping over one another at the Guthrie Theater last week in a performance that celebrated teen spirit, dance legacy and the bridge-building power of the arts.

“There’s something incredibly unique about sharing a stage with people,” said Sophia Meza, a Southwest senior.

For the past month, they’d been carpooling and busing across the city to rehearsals, learning how to move together, work together, to give and take time in the spotlight.

In practice, shy underclassmen leapt out of their shells. Veterans took front-row spots, imagining their futures on stage. They started out as strangers, but in the end hooted for one another and hugged, bound by the power of performance.

The March matchup started as a question from the Minneapolis School District, backed by a grant from the Martha Gould Fund at the Minneapolis Foundation: What if kids across the city danced together?

Cultural divisions are clear. North dance teacher Tamiko French doesn’t think many kids from North go to the south part of the city, except for trips to the Mall of America. More people from south Minneapolis have traveled to Europe than have driven into the North Side, Southwest dance teacher Colleen Callahan-Russell remembered hearing.

“There’s no occasion for them, or there wasn’t, to go across town,” she said.

But once the dance project started, a common interest became clear. The dancers from Southwest were “actually as committed as me,” said North High junior Ricquel Williams.

‘1, 2, 3, family’

African drumbeats pulsed over studio speakers at each joint rehearsal, like a clock ticking closer to performance time.

In early March, with less than a month to go before the final performance, the Southwest dancers piled into North High’s studio for rehearsal, some late because of navigation mishaps. As they practiced their steps, guest choreographer Toni Pierce-Sands of St. Paul-based TU Dance Company drilled and staged, sewing together pieces of the dance they’d learned.

With free time scarce, the Southwest kids were out the door soon after they arrived, leaving North to practice their group number alone.

Two weeks until showtime and the kids were in a studio at the University of Minnesota’s Barbara Barker Center for Dance. Despite the time constraints, kids were bonding. A group of girls went again and again through a line dance with tricky counts that demanded spins at precise moments.

All the kids who packed rehearsals in leggings and T-shirts are advanced dancers. About 30 of them were from Southwest and a group of eight were from North, including a stage manager. Southwest’s enrollment is more than four times the size of North’s, which holds nearly 400 students this year.

Malik Marcus was the sole male dancer from North High. Just a freshman, he choreographed the boys’ combination, a center-stage explosion of jumps over each other’s heads and log rolls on the dance floor.

Marcus used to be shy, but French saw the choreographic potential in his freestyle hip-hop and drew him in. Marcus called the Southwest kids “some of the coolest people” he’s ever met.

Being with the North crew felt natural for Iman and Khadijah Siferllah-Griffin, Southwest seniors and twin sisters.

“I saw family in them,” Khadijah said.

As if to spell that out, one long rehearsal ended in a giant group hug among the boys with a chant — “1, 2, 3, family!”

It’s showtime

Then, ready or not, it was performance day. A quick run-through of their set onstage and cleanup rehearsal. Homework and naps in the Guthrie hallways. Their five-minute dance in the 8:40 p.m. slot loomed.

The theater building had the buzz of a performing arts school as around 900 Minneapolis students readied to perform in annual district arts showcase Viva City, held at the Guthrie for the first time.

With minutes left before their performance, French and Callahan-Russell motioned through the piece’s finale, their short dance duet, in an offstage corner. After years of working together, this was a farewell: Callahan-Russell will retire at the end of the school year.

In her 35-year tenure teaching dance in the district, Callahan-Russell remembers North’s arts heyday. She taught dance there when it was an arts magnet. French, a 1997 North alumnae, was one of her students. Resources were plentiful. The program was rich.

When Callahan-Russell moved to Southwest in the late 1990s, a dance program didn’t exist there, she said. Now, kids like the Siferllah-Griffin twins pick Southwest because of its dance focus. Ten of the district’s schools offer dance during the daytime curriculum, including five high schools.

“It balances their life,” Callahan-Russell said. She’ll miss watching the kids — her kids — grow.

The kids loved Pierce-Sands, a sweet but direct choreographer who was Callahan-Russell’s first guest artist at North. It was fitting that she round out the last dance.

The Southwest seniors will move on, Meza to the University of Minnesota for a major in dance and political science, the twins deciding between dance opportunities and school — or maybe both. French will keep building dance at North, training underclassmen like Marcus.

Callahan-Russell said her kids are aching for future collaborations, and next time, with chances to get to know one another better.

Seconds left now. Teachers and students clad in full white glowed against the red velvet of the Guthrie’s McGuire Proscenium Stage, school allegiances indistinguishable as they shifted in their seats, waiting their turn.

Then it was places onstage, and lights. The familiar African drumbeats began to pound. And together in their bare feet, they danced.

Source: http://www.startribune.com/dance-unites-minneapolis-students-who-never-would-have-met/418192533/#7

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