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 & Email Address:

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

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