The School at TU Dance Center 2022 Spring Student Showcase | May 21 & 22

Artistic Director Toni Pierce-Sands invites you to The School at TU Dance Center 2022 Spring Student Showcase. Students from the Children & Teen and Pre-Professional Programs will share technique demonstrations in modern, ballet, hip hop and African dance as well as perform in works by TU Dance Center teaching artists and guest artists, Gregory Dolbashian (New York) and Marcus Jarrell Willis (Cardiff, Wales). With the first live performances for the school in two years, we welcome you back and ask you to please join us in celebrating these inspiring young dancers and all of their beautiful dedication and hard work!

Saturday May 21 | 1:00pm  & 6:00pm (SOLD OUT)
Sunday, May 22 | 1:00pm (SOLD OUT)

Barbara Barker Center for Dance, Studio 100
University of Minnesota
500 21st Ave South
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Tickets: $15 (General Admission, In-person only)

Proof of full vaccination (for ages 5+) or proof of a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours will be required. A universal mask mandate is in place for all entering the facility.

Click here to read the Program Information

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and culture heritage fund.

Sensible Existence Showing | April 28

Please join us for an informal in-studio showing featuring Sensible Existence, a TU Dance project with choreography by Marcus Jarrell Willis. In anticipation for our live performances at The O’Shaughnessy of St. Catherine University on May 13 & 14 at 7:30pm, we invite you to attend this event and get an up-close and personal look into the creation of this work, and have the opportunity to meet the artists involved. 

Sensible Existence Showing

April 28 | 5:30-6:30pm | TU Dance Center

This event is free and open to the public with a maximum capacity of 75 guest. First come, first served. RSVP required here! We are not receiving any more registrations for this event.

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 St. and Charles Ave.

Urban Bush Women’s Technique & Repertory Master Class | April 21

TU Dance and Northrop presents “Urban Bush Women’s Technique & Repertory Master Class”. Participants will explore Urban Bush Women’s legacy works and learn phrases from repertory included in their upcoming Legacy + Lineage + Liberation concert performance. They will also engage in movement study rooted in the “Liberated Pelvis,” a movement methodology created by Co-Artistic Director Samantha Speis, that acts as a portal to enter a durational investigative process, in order to develop an artistic expression that can create specific narratives or delineate abstract designs. Within this process, Participants will be asked to interrogate their discoveries and knowings through an improvisational framework of duration, permission, play, and transparency, in addition to organized movement. This master class is for pre-professional students. 

Thursday, April 21 | 4:30-6:00pm at TU Dance Center

Cost: Free

Due to limited studio capacity, pre-registration is required. Please complete your pre-registration here.

See UBW live April 23rd at The O’Shaughnessy at St. Catherine University: bit.ly/UBWoscu

Photo by Dale Dong

Master Class with Marcus Jarrell Willis | April 30

Join us as visiting choreographer Marcus Jarrell Willis teaches a Modern/Contemporary 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 Marcus’ own signature language through gestural and contemporary forms of modern dance movement. This class is designed for an advanced/pre-professional level.

April 30, 2022 | 12:30-2:00pm

Cost Options: $20

Student Name::

*Proof of full vaccination (including booster) or negative test within 72 hours + masks are required at the door for all in-person participants. Please read TU Dance Community Safety Statement.

*Pre-Registration is required as in-studio space is limited. Please complete the Pre-Registration Form here!

Marcus Jarrell Willis has performed with RIOULT, Dominic Walsh Dance Theater, Tania Pérez- Salas Compañía de Danza and 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. As a teaching artist, he has engaged with Rambert Dance Professional Program, Tring Park Performing Arts School, TU Dance, Joffrey Southwest Dallas, Centre Chorégraphique James Carles, Amsterdam Dance Centre and various training programs, universities and conservatoires, globally. Willis is a YoungArts Level 1 award recipient and Presidential Scholar Nominee.

Willis has presented 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, residencies and film creations include works for Ailey II, TU Dance, NY Choreographic Institute, with dancers of New York City Ballet, Company Danzante, Ballet Cymru, The Juilliard School, SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance, The Ailey School, University of Minnesota, Lucia Marthas Institute for the Performing Arts, Rubicon Dance, COCA, Satellite Collective, The Dance Gallery Festival Level Up Commission in 2013 and The 92nd Y Dance Introduction Series, among others. He was named Best Choreographer for TU Dance creation, Sensible Existence in City Pages 2018 Best of the Twin Cities. Willis was the 2018/19 Leverhulme Choreography Fellow at Rambert Dance in London, during which time he completed the evening length solo creation POM/POM, Portrait of Man/ Pieces of Me and created work with selected dancers of Rambert 2. Most recently, he was appointed the role of Resident Choreographer for Ballet Cymru in Newport, Wales UK, and is continuing the journey of building choreographic works for his independent dance performance project, MJ Willis Project-Inc.

Photo by Stephan Chouan

Class + Connect | Traditional Flow: African Dance and Yoga with Kenna

Please join us this Spring for a series of 3 open adult class offerings (each offering will include 4 weekly classes) featuring 3 different Twin Cities teaching artists. Join for all 3 offerings or drop-in as your schedule allows. Each class will be followed by an optional time to connect with one another over coffee/tea provided by TU Dance — either socially distanced in our green room space or outside on the loading dock, weather permitting. We hope to create a space where people can explore movement and dance but also build community by staying to connect through conversation and reflection of their shared experience.

A 90-minute movement class where we explore traditional and contemporary West African dances. Using authentic recordings, Kenna will teach movements from different dances, stringing them together into a choreographic routine. The class winds down with stretching and breath-driven movements one might find in a vinyasa yoga class, but still influenced with afro flavor. All ages, levels and abilities are welcome, and the class is intentionally designed to be rigorous for those with experience in Afro dance styles.

Saturdays, May 7,  14, 21 & 28 | 4-5:30 pm (CST)

Cost Options: $12 or $15 (sliding scale)(previously purchased class cards accepted)

*Proof of full vaccination or negative test within 72 hours + masks are required at the door for all in-person participants. Please read TU Dance Community Safety Statement.

*Pre-Registration is required as in-studio space is limited. Please complete the Pre-Registration Form here!

Kenna-Camara Cottman is Black, non-binary, and repping North Minneapolis, Mni Sota Makoce home of the Bdote. Kenna is a school bus driver and also runs Voice of Culture Drum and Dance, where we create Black space for practicing cultural arts and liberation. Next project: Kenna will open a thrift shop at called House of Culture, please donate your cool clothes and cultural items! Kenna has taught many things including elementary school, college level dance, and now yoga at 612Jungle in Minneapolis (Black Woman Owned Hip Hop Yoga Studio). Kenna has worked many places including Franklin Middle School, the MN State Fair, and at a coffee shop. Kenna is a proud prayer of BodyPrayers, a musician & vocalist, and a Cultural Artist/Educator, among other things. Kenna is the child of community parents Bill and Beverly Cottman, and the mother of Yonci Peaceful and Ebrima Baye. www.voiceofculture.org

Body Watani in Water by Leila Awadallah | April 16, 2022

Body Watani (body-as-homeland) is both an improvisational movement practice and an emerging contemporary dance form. A site where improvisational research guides practitioners into their personal ‘body watani’ through spending time with ancestries, contemplating our complex relations to land / water / home, and activating embodied memories into dancing. Developed by Leila and Noelle Awadallah, two Palestinian American dancers, this contemporary form also finds roots in dances of Arabic / *SWANA (South West Asia North Africa)/ Mediterranean geographies through specific movement techniques, music of the region, and cultural / political content to engage with that deepens our relation to Body Watani’s context.

The first half of the workshops will begin with writing prompts, conversations, and improvisation research. Participants are invited to choose how they physicalize the material (dancing, sitting still, everything in between). In the second half, we will share more about our new work: TERRANEA through teaching movement materials that incorporate elements of our technique and we will teach repertoire from the upcoming performance, premiering May 5-7 at the Candy Box Festival. Participants are welcome to witness or participate as they see fit. 

In Collaboration with TU Dance, Body Watani will host a workshop focused on WATER. Ancestral waters, fluid memories, relations to bodies of water as we ourselves are bodies of water. The material will move through the following: What memories are held and carried by waters? What can we learn from the water? What is it to depart and return via waterways? Grappling with the histories and also ongoing realities of bodies moving across water, the imposition of laws and lines on a fluid space, and the loss amongst waves. We will sink into the many complexities and swim together – through.

These workshops are for all levels, all abilities. We welcome everyone from professional dancers, to anyone who wants to deepen their relationship to the movement inside their particular body.

April 16, 2022 | 11:00am-2:00pm

Cost: $10

Student Name:

*Proof of vaccination or negative test within 72 hours + masks are required at the door for all in-person participants. Please read TU Dance Community Safety Statement.

*In-person only. Pre-Registration is required as in-studio space is limited. Please complete the Pre-Registration Form here!

ACCESSIBILITY: Please email leilaawada018@gmail.com for more info & conversation about accessibility within each workshop space and also the structure of this movement-focussed workshop.

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 (*SWANA-rooted forms) and performance. Now in creative partnership with Noelle Awadallah, they will premiere Body Watani’s first piece, TERRANEA at the Candy Box festival which is a National Performance Network supported project. 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), and the Daring Dances Choreographic Residency & Fellowship (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.

Photo by Leila Awadallah

Meet the Artists | Sensible Existence

Join us as TU Dance returns with live performances at The O’Shaughnessy featuring the expanded, evening-length presentation of Sensible Existence, a TU Dance project originally choreographed by award winning choreographer Marcus Jarrell Willis in 2017. Sensible Existence is a dance work inspired by Descartes’ writings on Self and the World. The work explores the questions surrounding its namesake. Existence is the fact or state of living or having objective reality. Sensible is an adjective describing something that is done in accordance with wisdom or prudence. The new Sensible Existence will draw from its original production elements and will feature new writing compositions uniquely crafted to this work. 

The O’Shaughnessy | May 13 & 14 | 7:30pm

For ticket information click here.

Meet the artists:

Sa’Nah Britt, born in the Twin Cities, began her journey at The School at TU Dance Center as a student in 2014. She graduated from the Perpich Arts Highschool in 2020 and has continued to pursue and shape her passion at TU Dance as a pre-professional student and most recently as a teaching artist for the school, where she strives to inspire and encourage other young artists. During her time at TU Dance, Sa’Nah has performed in various works by Marcus Jarrell Willis, Gregory Dolbashian, Ronald K. Brown, Laurel Keen, Alanna Morris, Abdo Sayegh Rodriguez, Darrius Strong, Maurya Kerr, Leila Awadallah, Alia Kache, and Yusha Sorzano. Her training has included a variety of techniques including African, ballet, modern, jazz, improvisation, krump, and contemporary. Sa’Nah is known for her ability to embrace a choreographers’ vision and present it in a way that is both unique and captivating. She looks forward to other opportunities where she can continue to grow and develop as an artist.

Madison Elliott is a NY based dancer, performer, choreographer and teacher. She is originally from Sioux Falls, SD where she co-founded, and is now the Executive Director of an award winning nonprofit, The Headlights Theater (a pop-up/drive-in performing arts collective that helps uplift local artists while bringing the community together in a safe way during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond). She attended the University of North Carolina School of the Arts for High School and went on to receive her BFA in Dance and a Minor in Arts Management from SUNY Purchase College, class of 2020. Madison has worked with several companies in New York including HIVEWILD, Pocket Fuel Groovers and MeagMove. She has performed works by world renowned choreographers such as Doug Varone, Trisha Brown, Roderick George, Abby Zibkowski and many more. She has been featured in Dance Magazine for her dance film Empty Vessel, which has won 2 awards and been chosen for inclusion in the Future Dance Festival, Screen Dance International Festival, Astoria Film Festival, Portland Dance Film Fest and Lights Dance Festival. Madison also creates journals out of reused/recycled materials.

Amarachi Valentina Korie began her dance training at Baltimore County Youth Ballet at the age of 10. She attended Carver Center for the Arts and Technology and graduated as a 2014 Bill Gates Millennium Scholar. Ms. Korie then attended the Ailey/ Fordham BFA Program and there she performed Alvin Ailey’s Memoria during Ailey’s 2016 and 2017 New York City Center seasons. Soon after she became a Company Member with Ailey II from 2018-2020. She has received scholarships to The School at Jacob’s Pillow, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Joffrey Ballet School, and The Ailey School, having performed works by Robert Battle, Kyle Abraham, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Linda-Denise Fisher Harrell, and Emily Molnar. Ms. Korie is a 2-time regional NAACP ACT-SO competition gold medalist and Maryland All-State Dance awardee.

Joe LaLuzerne (Brooklyn Park, Minnesota) began dancing at  age 8 at Summit Dance Shoppe, training competitively and  studying ballet with Linda Muir Finney. Joe graduated from Texas Christian University in the Spring of 2021 where he obtained a BFA Ballet and a BA in Political Science. Joe has had the opportunity to work with choreographers LeeWei Chao, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Elizabeth Gillaspy, Susan Haag, Gabrielle Lamb, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Carmen Rozestraten, Keith Saunders, Amy Seiwert, Joshua Peugh, and Christian von Howard, among others. Joe has danced at summer intensives with Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, Jennifer Archibald’s ArchCore40, BalletX, Dark Circles Contemporary Dance: Arts Lab Desert Peaks, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Kansas City Ballet, and most recently with The School at Jacob’s Pillow as a member of their Contemporary Ballet Performance Ensemble under the direction of Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. After the completion of his undergraduate studies Joe attended Milano Contemporary Ballet’s International Training Program in Milan, Italy, before returning to Minnesota and joining TU Dance for this project.

Samantha Meryhew, a Saint Paul native, is currently a company member at Shapiro and Smith Dance, and was a former Apprentice at TU Dance Center. In 2011, she started her training towards her professional career as part of the first generation of The School at TU Dance. She has performed in works by Garth Fagan, Brian Brooks, Marcus Jarrell Willis, and Kjara Staric Wurst. She has also been a guest artist with Shapiro and Smith Dance performing in their production of Bolero in the Spring of 2017 and 2018. She has attended summer programs at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, Complexions Dance, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. She is proficient in classical and contemporary ballet, modern, and African dance. Noted often as a hard worker and a quick learner, she strives to delve deep into the physicality and emotional nuances of the movement presented to her. Samantha has a Bachelor of Art in Dance and Art from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Connor Simone received training at Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, the TU Dance School, and the University of Minnesota. Connor is a current member of James Sewell Ballet in Minneapolis and has previously danced with TU Dance, Threads Dance Project, and the University of Minnesota Dance Theatre. He has performed works by artists such as Marcus Willis, Kjara Wurst, Gregory Dolbashian, Gregory Vuyani Maqoma, Will Couture, Carl Flink, Sidra Bell, Maurya Kerr, and Michael Walters among others. Alongside performing, Connor has worked for several arts organizations across the Twin Cities in IT and web development and is also teaching ballet for Eleve’ Performing Arts Center. 

 

Elliana Vesely (cover) is a Twin Cities, MN based dance artist who grew up in a small town in Northern Wisconsin. As of May of 2020, she holds a B.A. in dance from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She complemented this degree with studies in biology and health & wellness promotion, receiving minors in both. While at the U of M, Elliana was cast in works by acclaimed artists; Leah Nelson, Joan Smith, Robert Moses, Eko Supriyanto, Kjara Wurst and Carl Flink. While in school, she also had the pleasure of working with Crash Dance Company, Shapiro and Smith Dance and performed in the 2018 North-Central American College Dance Association Gala. Elliana is honored to have been a recipient of the Beth Hope Suran Scholarship (2016-2020) and the Jean Congdon Scholarship (2019-2020). She is ecstatic to be dancing with Shapiro and Smith Dance, Black Label Movement, and ARENA Dances as a company member. Elliana has most recently toured with Burning Air by Shapiro and Smith Dance and run with me by ARENA Dances.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and culture heritage fund.

 

 

Photos (top to bottom): Marcus Jarrell Willis and former company member Taylor Collier by Yuval Moyal; Welcoming the Artists: Sa’Nah Britt by Vizionary Studios, Madison Elliot by Alice Chacon, Amarachi Korie by Nir Arieli, Joe LaLuzerne by @benedettepitscheider, Samantha Meryhew by Blake Nellis, Connor Simone by Isabel Fajardo, and Elliana Vesely by Armour Photography.

Class + Connect | OLD SKOOL DANCE HOUSE PARTY

Please join us this Spring for a series of 3 open adult class offerings (each offering will include 4 weekly classes) featuring 3 different Twin Cities teaching artists. Join for all 3 offerings or drop-in as your schedule allows. Each class will be followed by an optional time to connect with one another over coffee/tea provided by TU Dance — either socially distanced in our green room space or outside on the loading dock, weather permitting. We hope to create a space where people can explore movement and dance but also build community by staying to connect through conversation and reflection of their shared experience.

We goin’ back, waaaaayyy back in time to the days of house parties in the basement with blue and red lights on in the corner.  All boom boxes in full effect, all street dances come correct-It’s time to sweat!  Come shake your groove thang and enjoy setting your spirit free with your favorite Old (True) Skool Hip Hop & Street dance styles.  We’ll groove together and get our solo shine on in the Cipher! All dance lovers on deck!  Let’s get it!!

Saturdays, April 9, 16, 23 & 30 | 4-5:30 pm (CST)

Cost Options: $12 or $15 (sliding scale)(previously purchased class cards accepted)

Please select one option :
Please select one option :
Student Name:

*Proof of vaccination or negative test within 72 hours + masks are required at the door for all in-person participants. Please read TU Dance Community Safety Statement.

*Pre-Registration is required as in-studio space is limited. Please complete the Pre-Registration Form here!

Aneka McMullen is a Dancer/Performer/Choreographer & Dance Educator who hails from Minneapolis, Minnesota and holds a BFA in Dance from The Ohio State University. Her extensive dance experience spans more than two decades and includes dynamic skills in performance, choreography and instruction in the genres of Hip Hop, West African, Modern, Afro Modern, Jazz, and Ballet.  

Aneka is a co- founder and artistic director of Epitome-No Question, an open Old Skool Hip Hop dance ensemble dedicated to celebrating the community conscious roots of Hip Hop culture, through dance theater. Epitome-No Question represents Old Skool Hip Hop because it reflects the West African roots of the genre.  Hip Hop with the “Hop” in it! 

She has recently completed five seasons with BLAQ, an Afro Modern observance based dance company in the twin cities, a teaching residence with the Ordway’s Dance to Learn program, and teaching dance at her alma mater North Community High School.  Previously, she also completed five seasons as a performer with the Minneapolis based Threads Dance Project, and has also performed with Women in Motion (Ananya Dance Theater)

Aneka has been blessed to slay & present her work on stages across MN, the U.S., and abroad.  Her work has been featured in the award winning Rooted:Hip Hop Choreographer’s Evening, Lori Carlos’s Late Nite Series,Choreographer’s Evening (Walker Art Center), Black Choreographer’s Evening (Intermedia Arts), B Girl Be, and most recently in Body Prayers 2021, Momentum New Dance Works 2020, and the 2018 16 Feet: Splashes of Dance Choreographer’s Evening.

Open Classes at TU Dance Center

TU Dance Center is offering in-person open classes for intermediate and advanced dancers.
  • Monday: Ballet with Laurel Keen
  • Tuesday: Horton-Based Modern with Toni Pierce-Sands
  • Wednesday: Ballet with Abdo Sayegh-Rodriguez
  • Thursday: GYROKINESIS® with Abdo Sayegh-Rodriguez
  • Friday: Body Watani (body-as-homeland practice + Arabic dance) with Leila Awadallah
March 14 – May 9, 2022 | 9:30am – 11:00 am (CST)
TU Dance Center (in-person only)

Cost: $15/1 class or $120/10 Classes

Please select the class you wish to take: :
Please select a payment option: :
Student Name:

Pre-registration is required as in-studio space is limited. Please complete the Open/Master Class Registration Form.

Please read the TU Dance Community Safety Statement before you register for these classes.

Class + Connect

Please join us this Spring for a series of 3 open adult class offerings (each offering will include 4 weekly classes) featuring 3 different Twin Cities teaching artists. Join for all 3 offerings or drop-in as your schedule allows. Each class will be followed by an optional time to connect with one another over coffee/tea provided by TU Dance — either socially distanced in our green room space or outside on the loading dock, weather permitting. We hope to create a space where people can explore movement and dance but also build community by staying to connect through conversation and reflection of their shared experience.

Starting this series, we invite you to join (in-person only) Twin Cities modern teaching artist Jennifer Ilse. Jennifer’s class approaches movement with a goal of balance – fluidity in strength, power in softness, centered on breath and economy of movement to teach internal and external body awareness, rhythm and phrasing, and ensemble dancing through modern dance patterns and improvisation. This class is open to beginning and intermediate level participants, age 18+.

Saturdays, March 12, 19, 26 and April 2 | 4-5:30 pm (CST)

Cost Options: $12 or $15 (sliding scale)(previously purchased class cards accepted)

Please select one option :
Please select one option :
Student Name:

*Proof of vaccination or negative test within 72 hours + masks are required at the door for all in-person participants. Please read TU Dance Community Safety Statement.

*Pre-Registration is required as in-studio space is limited. Please complete the Pre-Registration Form here!

“April CLASS + CONNECT info coming soon… “  

Jennifer Ilse is originally from Wisconsin, Jennifer first studied dance in a professional setting in Duluth, Minnesota. She then moved to Eugene, Oregon to continue her studies at the University of  Oregon. In Eugene she also studied with the Eugene Ballet under Susan Zadoff of Ballet Russe, at Musical Feet school of tap, and performed four seasons with the Dance Theatre of Oregon. After moving to Minneapolis in 1997 she became co-artistic director of the dance/theater/visual art hybrid company Off-Leash Area, with which she has choreographed and directed over 28 full-length productions and created and managed a new venue, the Off-Leash Art Box. She was a City Pages Artist of the Year, has been featured on TPT’s MN Original, received 5 Arts Board Artist Initiative grants, and received 2 Ivey Awards. Ilse is a long time dance teaching artist, teaching ballet, tap and modern dance classes for adults and children over the past 30 years. Jennifer’s modern dance teaching draws from her eclectic movement background in classical modern and releasing styles, contemporary approaches to movement, improvisation, and extensive floorwork.

 

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