The School at TU Dance Center 2021 Spring Student Showcase VIDEO

The showcase –originally broadcasted on June 22, 2021– will include works featuring the students from the Children & Teen and Pre-Professional Programs that were filmed at the beautiful Raspberry Island in St. Paul, Minnesota. These works were choreographed by TU Dance Center Teaching Artists, and include a new work, entitled Reset, by international guest artist, Marcus Jarrell Willis who worked with the students virtually from Cardiff, Wales over the past year. Reset is a choreographic work, made for film, which reflects not only our current state of being in these challenging times, but also offers insight into the journey that lies ahead for TU Dance. We hope you enjoy this video as we recognize the beautiful work of our students and faculty, and offer a special congratulations to this year’s Pre-Professional student graduates!

Ticket Price Tiers: $10, $15 and $25 (suggested for households)

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*Viewing link (Vimeo) will be emailed to ticket buyers within 24 hours. If you purchase more than one ticket, please email us at info@tudance.org and provide additional email address(es) to receive the viewing link. The viewing link will be available for viewing until July 8, 2021.

If you would like to make a donation in support of TU Dance’s activities, please click here.

The School at TU Dance Center 2021 Spring Student Showcase, June 22

Please join us virtually for the The School at TU Dance Center’s 2021 Spring Student Showcase Watch Party. The showcase will include works featuring the students from the Children & Teen and Pre-Professional Programs that were filmed at the beautiful Raspberry Island in St. Paul, Minnesota. These works were choreographed by TU Dance Center Teaching Artists, and include a new work, entitled Reset, by international guest artist, Marcus Jarrell Willis who worked with the students virtually from Cardiff, Wales over the past year. Reset is a choreographic work, made for film, which reflects not only our current state of being in these challenging times, but also offers insight into the journey that lies ahead for TU Dance. We hope you will join us as we recognize the beautiful work of our students and faculty, and offer a special congratulations to this year’s Pre-Professional student graduates!

Tuesday, June 22 at 5:30pm CST

Tickets will be available for purchase until one hour before showcase start time.
Ticket Price Tiers: $10, $15 and $25 (suggested for households)

*Zoom link will be emailed 30 minutes prior to the performance.

If you would like to make a donation in support of TU Dance’s activities, please click here.

In-Person Open Classes at TU Dance Center, Summer 2021

TU Dance Center’s open classes are back! Join us for in-person dance classes for intermediate/advanced dancers with teaching Artists Leila Awadallah, Laurel Keen , Abdo Sayegh-Rodriguez and other guest teachers. To see the schedule visit Open Class Schedule.

Cost: $15 (please register a minimum of 24 hours in advance)

If using a Class Card, please email us at education@tudance.org with your name, class title and class date at least 24 hours in advance. Upon arrival at TU Dance Center, please present your class card to a TU Dance staff member or Teaching Artist.

Please select the class you wish to take: :
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TU Dance Center is continuing to have COVID-related restrictions. A limited number of dancers will be allowed per class. Dancers must complete the TU Dance Center Health Self-Assessment  within 24 hours of class start time, and must practice social distancing and wear a mask during their visit and while taking dance classes. These classes will be provided only in person.

More about Leila Awadallah:

Leila Awadallah is a Palestinian American dancer, choreographer, and filmmaker based between Minneapolis and Beirut. In 2019 she began developing Body Watani, an emerging dance project and practice reflecting on notions of home/land through movement research and performance. Now in creative partnership with her sister Noelle Awadallah, they will premiere Body Watani’s first piece, TERRANEA at the Candy Box festival. Leila has received multiple fellowships, grants and residencies to research her practice and create original works; most notably the Jerome Hill Fellowship (2021-2023), Amalgam Residency (2021), Arab American National Museum Residency (2020), Jerome@Camargo Residency (2020), Springboard 20/20 Fellowship (2018-2019), Daring Dances Choreographic Residency & Fellowship (2019), and the Jerome Travel & Research Grant (2018). Her performances and films have been presented extensively in the Twin Cities, the broader midwest region, and in Lebanon. She received two awards for her performances in festivals at the Lebanese National Theatre (2019). Leila’s artistry as a performer and choreographer is rooted in the formative experiences of working with Ananya Dance Theatre (2014-2019) and co-creating the Kelvin Wailey dance project, as well as her BFA in Dance from the University of Minnesota.

Youth Inspiring Youth: Celebrating Amanda Gorman

Celebrating the accomplishments of the vibrant local, national and international youth with the purpose of inspiring our TU Dance Center’s youth and the community at large. This educational activity creates yet another space at TU Dance Center to elevate our youth. Students from The School at TU Dance Center will bring forward a young individual that inspires them for their work in any discipline, and answer the question: why am I inspired by [name]?. The selected youth and their journey will be shared with the community at TU Dance Center, social media channels and newsletters.

A series of Town Halls will be scheduled to spark conversation and learn about our youth being inspired by youth. Youth Inspiring Youth is a great opportunity to engage our community in a positive and uplifting way. More information coming soon!

Youth: the period between childhood and adult age. What is adult age? How do we define youth? How do YOU define youth?

To kick off this activity the staff of TU Dance has selected Amanda Gorman as the first YOUTH INSPIRING YOUTH!

Amanda Gorman
Wordsmith. Change-maker.

Gorman is an American poet and activist. Her work focuses on issues
of oppression, feminism, race, and marginalization, as well as the African diaspora. Gorman was the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate.

Age 22

(Read more about Amanda Gorman)

Photos: (top) Amanda Gorman by Kelia Anne for Rolling Stone magazine; (bottom) Amanda Gorman courtesy of theamandagorman.com

Dance Thrives Here | April 28, 2021

Join us, as TU Dance virtually embodies an evening of performances and celebration featuring works by renowned choreographer Ronald K. Brown. Dance lives and thrives in the bodies of the artists at TU Dance Center, bringing in the energy to move forward into the future we envision. By centering the location of this energy in the body, we are reminded that whether it be on zoom, in our homes, in the studio, or on a stage, we all continue to connect through dance.

Dance Thrives Here… will include:

  • Voices from the students, alumni, artists, parents, board and audience members
  • Three recorded works by Ronald K. Brown. Clear as Tear Water originally created for Toni Pierce-Sands and Where the Light Shines Through performed by the company, and Four Corners performed by the students of The School at TU Dance Center
  • A celebratory toast…be ready to raise your glass!
  • Post-show discussion with Toni Pierce-Sands, Ronald K. Brown Artistic Director, and Arcell Cabuag Associate Artistic Director of Evidence a Dance Company

Wednesday, April 28th at 7:00 pm (CST).

The length of the event is approximately 45 minutes. Zoom link will be emailed to those registered 24 hours in advance.

Please register for this FREE event here.

Donations are welcomed @ www.givemn.org/story/dance-thrives-here.

Photo: TU Dance Center mural designed by Lela Pierce and created in collaboration with the community. Copyrighted ©

TU Dance invites you to join us November 19th for GIVE to the MAX Day!

Greetings from TU Dance!

This time has brought to all of us challenges never experienced, yet an opportunity to regenerate, reimagine, rethink, reenvigour, regroup.

It’s inspiring to connect with our students taking online and in-person classes, and witnessing how our teaching artists and accompanists continue to deliver high-quality training and support to our students. The video below is an example of how TU Dance is sustaining the connective power of dance during this new era, where our students find creative ways to communicate with fierce expressiveness.

The School at TU Dance Center programs have been re-imagined to support our entire community as we transitioned to remote and hybrid learning platforms. We are heartened by the courage, passion, and creativity of our staff, teaching artists, and accompanists as they continue to carry out our mission. Below are a few highlights of their efforts as we continue to navigate this new virtual world:

  • We continued offering classes for our Pre-Professional, Children & Teen, and Adult programs during the Spring and Summer.
  • We continued our contracts with 24 teachers and 11 accompanists.
  • Our company dancers were furloughed in April, and we honored, in full, our contractual responsibilities providing them all severance packages.
  • The financial aid application process was reopened in April 2020 and additional funds were allocated beyond what was initially budgeted to our TU Dance Access Fund to aid families affected by unexpected financial hardship.
  • We reduced the tuition of the Adult and Dancing Together workshops by 33%.
  • We developed brand new programming to support the emotional well-being of our community.
  • We facilitated three free weekly online classes with an average participation of 30 local, national, and international students.
  • We transformed our Spring Student Showcase into a live interactive virtual event, which included performances from all our Pre-Professional and Children & Teen programs.
  • In response to yet another killing in the hands of the police, we offered two virtual community conversations Taking time and space to reset, led by Mary K. Boyd, president and CEO of MKB & Associates, an education and human services consulting business and educator who advocates for the recognition, respect, voice, strength and potential of African/African American children, youth and families.
  • Our summer programming continued with masterclasses, summer programs, and intensives with TU Dance Center teaching artists and renowned national teaching artists such as Renee Robinson, Maurya Kerr, and Gregory Dolbashian. Additionally, we collaborated with New York-based dance company Evidence, A Dance Company featuring Artistic Director Ronald K. Brown and Associate Artistic Director Arcell Cabuag. The newly designed summer intensive named Intersect attracted students from many US cities as well as from Japan, Uruguay, and Turkey.
  • We re-imagined our Fall classes to include a hybrid of in-person and virtual classes which included national and international guest artists Peggy Seipp-Roy (California), Arcell Cabuag (NYC) and Marcus Jarrell Willis (England).
  • With the support of Aroha Philanthropies, and considering the state of social, political and economical hardship, we were able to offer National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) workshops for all of our staff, teaching artists, accompanists, students and parents. www.namimn.org
  • We have been participating in local and national conversations about reopening with Dance/USA and IABD (International Association of Blacks in Dance), and other local art groups.

TU Dance reaches through diverse dance traditions to uncover the connective power of dance for audiences, students, artists, and the community.

We’ve continued to fulfill our mission with imagination and remain steadfast and uplifted by our community’s resilience. TU Dance Center will continue to be a space for our community to express the unwavering belief that black and brown lives matter and our hope for the future that we imagine is possible. This season, we are planning a series of community conversations, creating the space for continued reflection and learning.

From Nov 1-19, TU Dance joins the GiveMN’s #GiveMN campaign. We invite you to participate in continuing to build this new chapter of our story. Your contribution to TU Dance will help us maintain and create new and needed programming while we support all of those who make TU Dance’s mission a reality.

Together we will get through this!Please consider making a donation to TU Dance by visiting: www.givemn.org/organization/TU-Dance or by clicking on the “I Gave” button.

Together we got this!

All of us at TU Dance

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 https://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

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