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TU Dance celebrates 10 years of artistry

Uri and Toni Sands are bringing their St. Paul-based dance company to Red Wing for a concert and several workshops for dancers and non-dancers of all ages.

St. Paul-based TU Dance is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a performance featuring new and cutting-edge dance works by choreographers from New York and California as well as a signature work by company co-founder Uri Sands.

The performance will be at 7 p.m. March 1 at the Sheldon Theatre.

Since Toni Pierce-Sands and Uri Sands founded the company in 2004, “TU Dance has garnered audience and critical acclaim for a diverse repertory, versatile artists, and for performances that are engaging, dynamic and generous,” Sheldon spokesmen said.

The performers combine modern dance, classical ballet, African-based and urban movements in ways critics have described as inventive and unpredictable. The goal is to help people experience what TU Dance calls “the connective power of dance.”

For the Red Wing performance, part of a Minnesota tour supported by a State Arts Board grant, the company reached out to three celebrated choreographers for new works, TU Dance Managing Director Abdo Sayegh Rodriguez said.

The featured dances include premieres by those individuals:

•“B Sessions” by Dwight Rhoden, New York City choreographer and co-artistic director of Complexions Contemporary Ballet.

“This work is danced by four dancers using four chairs,” Sayegh Rodriguez said. “The style of this work is contemporary ballet set to the music of Beethoven.

•“Keep the Edges Wild,” a new abstract, modern work by Gregory Dolbashian from New York.

The Star Tribune reviewer commented, “The performers seemed to defy gravity and suspend time with precisely executed lifts and carries.” Small ensembles creep across the darkened stage, low to the ground and often animal-like with crawling and pouncing motions.

•“Rasa,” created by Alonzo King from San Francisco, makes its Minnesota premiere on this tour. It is set to an original score by tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain.

The Star-Tribune called this duet, which features Duncan Schultz and Katelyn Skelley, “a patient, focused composition.” The reviewer wrote, “Lit only with a dim, ruddy glow, the dancers traced the contours of exhaustion, supporting and exhorting one another as they rolled and crawled back and forth across the stage.”

Also on the program:

•“Make Amends,” choreographed by Camille A. Brown. “This work is a solo with hip-hop and street dance influence,” Sayegh Rodriguez said.

•“Lady,” by Uri Sands. One of his first works for Tu Dance, this dance was created in 2003, inspired by the co-artistic directors’ visit to South Africa. Combining modern dance and African-based movements, it was brought back for the anniversary season.

“As they walked through the shanty towns of Soweto, the one thing that continued to prevail for them was the spirit of the people, no matter how dismal the situation seemed for the outsider,” Sayegh Rodriguez said. “In particular they remember seeing people taking care of each other and sharing what little they had with anyone in need.”

Overall, he said, the works on the March 1 dance program are eclectic, distinctive and yet very much accessible to the audience.

According to Twin Cities media, the program is “a blend of intelligence and beauty, rigorous structure and inventive choreography.”

The entire company will be in Red Wing, including Uri and Toni Sands and dancers Berit Ahlgren, Darwin Black, Kendra Dennard, Hassan Ingraham, Alanna Morris-Van Tassel, David Rue, Duncan Schultz, Katelyn Skelley and Elayna Waxse, plus a technical director. The dancers came from all over the country to join the company.

This is their second visit to the Sheldon, Sayegh Rodriguez said, adding that the company would like to make it an annual event to help the Sheldon’s efforts to develop a dance audience that can “enjoy a night of high-quality dance with a diverse repertory and a diverse ensemble of dancers on stage.”

“Thanks to the proximity with the Twin Cities,” he said, “it will be great to create a long-lasting partnership with the Sheldon Theatre and the community of Red Wing.”

TU Dance consistently performs to sold-out audiences, including the Ordway Center in St. Paul, and has received national as well as local recognition. The company opened the TU Dance Center in 2011 as a hub for rehearsals, dance education and training in St. Paul. It offers year-round educational programming.

For more about TU Dance, go online to

Tickets to the performance are $17.50 for adults, $11.50 for students. Visit the website or call 651-388-8700.