TU Dance's 10th Anniversary Performance Set for Minneapolis' Ordway Tonight

TU Dance's 10th Anniversary Performance Set for Minneapolis' Ordway Tonight

The Ordway will present TU Dance in performance for one night only, tonight, May 10, 2014, in honor of the 10th anniversary of the celebrated St. Paul-based company founded by Toni Pierce-Sands and Uri Sands. This special performance includes Hikari, an Ordway-commissioned world premiere by choreographer Uri Sands in collaboration with master wood block print artist Hiroki Morinoue.

Inspired by Morinoue's abstract vision, Sands joined the artist at his studio-a former Kona coffee plantation in Hawaii-developing movement as a dialogue with Morinoue's forms. The dialogue continues on stage, with a large, original scenic work by Morinoue created for the performance.

The program will also feature Alvin Ailey's duet Twin Cities from his legendary The River (1970), performed by Uri Sands and special guest Laurel Keen. Keen, a St. Paul native, trained at Minnesota Dance Theatre and went on to an internationally acclaimed career with Alonzo King Lines Ballet in San Francisco, where she won the Princess Grace Award in dance. The program also includes the Minnesota premiere of Uri Sands' One, recently commissioned by Dance St. Louis to honor the legacy of Henrietta Lacks and the HeLa cell. (Lacks, an African-American tobacco farmer, unknowingly sparked a new era of modern medicine when her cells, taken without permission during cancer treatment in 1951, became the foundation of advancements such as the polio vaccine and in-vitro fertilization.)

Reflecting on their first decade of TU Dance, Pierce-Sands and Sands, veterans of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, will join their company in a performance of Lady-a signature, celebratory early work by Sands inspired by the couple's travels in South Africa. Lady concluded the company's sold-out opening run at Minneapolis' Southern Theater in 2004.

TU Dance has garnered audience and critical acclaim for its diverse repertory, versatile artists, and dynamic performance. Modern dance, classical ballet, African-based and urban vernacular movements are combined in inventive and unpredictable ways. In 2011 the organization opened TU Dance Center in Saint Paul, which provides year-round educational programming for dance students of all ages and levels of experience and also serves as a home studio for the professional company.

"Toni and Uri are powerhouses. Their knowledge and passion has propelled TU Dance into the forefront of the national dance scene," said James A. Rocco, vice president of programming and producing artistic director for the Ordway.

Local and national recognition for TU Dance includes Star Tribune's Artists of the Year, the Princess Grace Award in Choreography, DANCE Magazine's "25 to Watch," City Pages' 2011 Artists of the Year, McKnight Artist Fellowships for dance and choreography, multiple Sage awards for outstanding performance and dance education, and the 2011 Sally Ordway Irvine Award for Initiative.

"The Ordway is helping to celebrate TU Dance's 10th anniversary by commissioning this new piece, created by Uri especially for this occasion," said Ordway Artistic Director of World Music and Dance Dayna Martinez. "We are proud to continue to support and present on our stage wonderfully talented artists that live right here in the Twin Cities. Saint Paul is lucky to have TU Dance, a world class contemporary dance company."