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'Modern dance at its best'

TU Dance will perform at the Sheldon Theatre Oct. 13.

Twin Cities-based TU Dance, which is developing a reputation as Minnesota's premier dance company, will bring its unique modern stylings to the Sheldon Theatre at 7 p.m. Oct. 13.

"The Sheldon continues trying to grow our dance audience and diversify the types of dance we bring to the theater," Sheldon Managing Director Ellen Hutchinson said.

Theater officials jumped at the chance to book the company after she saw them perform a year ago at the Ordway Theater in St. Paul. Hutchinson, who is trained in dance, described the sold-out performance as "fabulous. ... I really wanted to bring them down."

TU Dance obtained a Legacy Grant to do outreach in Greater Minnesota, she noted, which makes it possible for the company to also offer free workshops for local children and adults (see related story).

The company was founded in 2004 by Toni Pierce-Sands and Uri Sands, who both had danced with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York and other companies.

Alvin Ailey is known for modern dance that combines African-American techniques and other pioneer modern dance movements, Hutchinson said.

Since coming to Minnesota TU Dance has developed a diverse repertory and offers performances that are described as engaging, dynamic and generous.

"Modern dance, classical ballet, African-based and urban vernacular movements are combined in inventive and unpredictable ways to provide opportunities for all audiences to experience the connective power of dance," according to the company's online biography.

"It's modern dance at its best," Hutchinson agreed.

Honors for the company include being named the Minneapolis Star Tribune's Artists of the Year, receiving the inaugural Princess Grace Award in Choreography, and being citied in 2011 by both City Pages and Metro Magazine.

The 2011 performance of "With Love" before 1,900 at the Ordway -- the performance that so impressed Hutchinson -- earned a Joyce Award for Uri Sands' choreography.

The nonoprofit organization opened TU Dance Center in 2011. It is a home studio for the 13-member professional company as well as a year-round educational resource.

Toni Pierce-Sands directs programming and teaches at the Dance Center; she also is director of University Dance Theater at the University of Minnesota. Before co-founding TU Dance she performed with companies in Germany and France, in addition to the New York troupe.

Uri Sands has received national recognition for his choreography, which is described as a "fusion of classical elegance with edge contemporary action," incorporating both intensity and poetic lyricism.

He also performed widely before coming to Minnesota, and has since been commissioned to choreograph works for a number of companies. He has appeared on television and in film, and has taught throughout the United States and Europe.

Dance educators offer free workshops

Professionals from TU Dance, a modern dance company that last year opened a center in St. Paul for students of all ages, is offering two free workshops in conjunction with its Oct. 13 performance at the Sheldon Theatre.

• A Master Class for dance students, 6:15 to 7:45 p.m. Oct. 11 at Shoreline Dance Studio, 133 Hedin Ave., Red Wing.

This class is best suited for intermediate or advanced students -- boys and girls age 10 and older, Sheldon Managing Director Ellen Hutchinson said.

The class aims to "give students a chance to learn about other techniques," she said. Students should wear their dance clothes and plan to dance barefoot with the professionals.

• A workshop for nondancers, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Oct. 13 at the YMCA, 406 Main St.; call 6511-388-4724 to sign up.

The workshop for nondancers is open to "anyone and everyone who is curious to come," Hutchinson said -- including adults as well as young people.

Participants also will spend time learning movement from the dance educators. "Wear something you are comfortable moving in," she said, and plan to go barefoot.

Very young children should be accompanied by adults, and people area asked to call the Y at 651-388-4724 to register so they can anticipate the number of participants.

TU Dance received a legacy grant to come to Red Wing and do community outreach, Hutchinson noted, adding that similar workshops were offered in partnership with the YMCA a couple of years ago when Rhythmic Circus came to town. "It was great," she said -- so they're doing it again.

If you go...

Who: TU Dance

What: Dance concert

When: 7 p.m. Oct. 13

Where: Sheldon Theatre

Cost: $20.50 adults, $13.50 students

More info: 651-388-8700, 800-899-5759,