TU Dance opens 10th anniversary season at Cowles Center

TU Dance opens 10th anniversary season at Cowles Center

Cowles Center.jpg

TU Dance.jpg




NOVEMBER 15-17, 2013


What:TU Dance returns to The Cowles Center in downtown Minneapolis for the opening concert of its 10th Anniversary Season.  The program features world premiere works by New York choreographers Dwight Rhoden and Gregory Dolbashian; the Minnesota premier of Alonzo King’s evocative and shimmering duet Rasa, set to an original score by tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain; and signature work by TU Dance’s own Uri Sands.



The Cowles Center for Dance and The Performing Arts

Goodale Theater
528 Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55403



Friday, November 15, 2013 at 8PM
Saturday, November 16, 2013 at 8PM
Sunday, November 17, 2013 at 2PM

Educational Performance (3-12th grade)
Friday, November 15 at 10:30AM.

For information and reservations contact Jessi Fett at 612-206-3640 or


Tickets:   Tickets: $30-$32

                    The Goodale Theater Box Office: 612.206.3600 or online at

                    Ticket prices include $4 per ticket handling fee.


St. Paul, MN - TU Dance founders Toni Pierce-Sands and Uri Sands have much to celebrate.  As their company opens its 10th anniversary season on November 15th, Toni and Uri have built their Saint Paul-based company into a Twin Cities favorite, presenting “a blend of intelligence and beauty, rigorous structure and inventive choreography, and integrity of performance so singularly wrought that the work rips your expectations from their moorings” (StarTribune). 

The program for this season opening concert especially reflects Toni and Uri’s vision for TU Dance, grounded by Uri’s own signature choreography while also reaching out to new work by renowned voices in dance.  Featured are premieres by three celebrated choreographers:  the Minnesota premiere of Alonzo King’s evocative and shimmering duet Rasa (2007, Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet, San Francisco) set to an original score by tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain; a world premiere work by Dwight Rhoden, artistic director of Complexions Contemporary Ballet (New York); and “Keep the Edges Wild,” a new commission from New York choreographer Gregory Dolbashian, exploring “a world where great courage and concentration is supported by an uninhibited imagination.”  Rounding out the program is Uri Sands’ own January (Part 2), a full-company work examining our perpetual state of transition.

Founded in 2004 by Toni-Pierce Sands and Uri Sands, TU Dance has garnered audience and critical acclaim for its diverse repertory, versatile artists, and for performances that are engaging, dynamic and generous.  Modern dance, classical ballet, African based and urban vernacular movements are combined in inventive and unpredictable ways to provide opportunities to experience the connective power of dance. 

In its 10 year history, TU Dance has consistently performed to enthusiastic and sold out audiences, including the 1,900-seat Ordway Performing Arts Center in Saint Paul. The company has also enjoyed local and national recognition, including StarTribune’s Artists of the Year, the inaugural Princess Grace Award in Choreography, DANCE Magazine’s “25 to Watch,” City Pages’ 2011 Artists of the Year, and multiple Sage awards for outstanding performance.  TU Dance was awarded the 2011 Sally Ordway Irvine Award for Initiative.

2011 saw the opening of TU Dance Center, realizing a vital part of Toni and Uri’s vision to establish a welcoming hub for rehearsals, dance education and training in Saint Paul.  Now in its third year, TU Dance Center offers year-round educational programming for dance students of various ages and levels of experience.  Toni, Uri and TU Dance Center were featured on the May 2013 cover of Dance Teacher magazine.

Artistic Directors and also life partners, Toni and Uri continue to draw energy and inspiration from intersecting professional careers, having met and danced together at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.  Known for her soloist performances in Ailey signature pieces such as Revelations, Toni’s career also includes seasons with progressive European companies such as Tanz Forum in Germany and Company Rick Odums in Paris. Uri, meanwhile, developed a considerable reputation as both dancer and choreographer with companies such as Complexions and North Carolina Dance Theatre.  His commissions include collaborations with the Ordway Center, VocalEssence, Penumbra Theatre and New York’s Complexions Contemporary Ballet, as well as new work for North Carolina Dance Theater and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.  Along with the many honors for TU Dance, Toni and Uri were each awarded McKnight Artist Fellowships for dance and choreography, respectively.  Toni was named Sage Awards 2011 Outstanding Dance Educator; and Uri was recognized by City Pages as 2011 Choreographer of the Year. 


Berit Ahlgren, Darwin Black, Kendra Dennard, Hassan Ingraham, Alanna Morris-Van Tassel, David Rue, Duncan Schultz, Katelyn Skelley and Elayna Waxse.



Alonzo King has been called a visionary choreographer, who is altering the way we look at ballet. King calls his works ‘thought structures’ created by the manipulation of energies that exist in matter through laws, which govern the shapes and movement directions of everything that exists. King has works in the repertories of the Swedish Royal Ballet, Frankfurt Ballet, Ballet Bejart, Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, Joffrey Ballet, Alvin Ailey, Hong Kong Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theatre, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. He has worked extensively in opera, television, and film. Known for collaborations, seminal works include People of the Forest (2001), choreographed with Baka artists from Central African Republic and Long River High Sky(2007), with China’s Shaolin Monks. He has collaborated with actor Danny Glover, legendary jazz saxophonist Pharaoh SandersHamza al DinPawel SzymanskiJason Moran, and tabla master Zakir Hussain. Renowned for his skill as a teacher, Mr. King has been guest ballet master for dance companies around the globe. In 2012 King was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Corps de Ballet International Teacher Conference.  King is the director of the international touring Company, Alonzo King LINES Ballet housed in San Francisco with the Alonzo King LINES Ballet BFA at Dominican University of California, Training Program, Summer Program, and Dance Center. Alonzo King is the recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Dance Masters of America, President Award, and the first ever Barney Choreographic Prize from White Bird Dance, which King received in July 2013 and April 2013 respectively. In October 2012 the San Francisco Museum & Historical Society named Alonzo King a "San Francisco Treasure" in recognition of the significant contributions he has made to the historic fabric of San Francisco over the last 30 years. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom presented the Mayor’s Art Award to Alonzo King in October 2008, calling him a “San Francisco treasure.” In June 2008, Alonzo King was honored with the Jacob's Pillow Creativity Award, in recognition of his contribution to "moving ballet in a very 21st-century direction". In 2006, King received the US Artists award, and in 2005, received New York’s Bessie Award for Choreographer/Creator. He is also the recipient of the NEA Choreographer's Fellowship, Irvine Fellowship in Dance, National Dance Project and the National Dance Residency Program, as well as several Isadora Duncan Awards. He has received the Hero Award from Union Bank, the Los Angeles Lehman Award, and the Excellence Award from KGO, and was chosen a recipient of the San Francisco Foundation's 2007 Community Leadership Award.  In 2005, he was named a Master of Choreography by the Kennedy Center. He is a former commissioner for the city and county of San Francisco, and a writer and lecturer on the art of dance. He was awarded the Green Honors Chair Professorship from Texas Christian University, and holds an honorary Doctorate from Dominican University of California and California Institute of the Arts.


Dwight Rhoden is the Founding Artistic Director with dancer Desmond Richardson, and Resident Choreographer of Complexions Contemporary Ballet, where he has created more than 80 ballets over the past two decades. Complexions widely considered “America’s Original Multicultural Dance Company” is celebrated for a pioneering spirit that continues to challenge traditional ideas and redefines possibilities in the dance arena. Dwight has established a remarkably wide-ranging career, earning distinction from The New York Times as “one of the most sought out choreographers of the day.”  His work has been presented on five continents and in over 20 countries, including Asia, Australia, the Baltic Region, Canada, Egypt, Europe, Israel, the Middle East, New Zealand, Russia, South America and the United States of America. Dwight has created work for numerous companies, among them Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, BalletMet, The Dance Theater of Harlem, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, The Joffrey Ballet, Miami City Ballet, New York City Ballet/Diamond Project, North Carolina Dance Theater, Philadanco, Marinsky Ballet (Kirov), Oakland Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, The Washington Ballet, and Zenon Dance Company.  Dwight has also directed and choreographed for TV, film, theater and live performances including So You Think You Can Dance, Cirque Du Soleil’s Zumanity, and the feature film “One Last Dance,” in which he also appeared.  A native of Dayton, Ohio, Dwight was recently commissioned to create a work for the centennial celebration of renowned collage artist Romare Bearden.

Gregory Dolbashian was born and raised in New York City Gregory made his professional stage debut at the age of eight with the Glimmerglass Opera Company. Soon after, he was cast in the Philip Glass/Robert Wilson world tour of Einstein on the Beach. Gregory received his dance training at the Alvin Ailey School on a fellowship scholarship and then graduated cum laude from SUNY Purchase dance conservatory were he studied composition with Kazuko Hirabayashi. Since then he has gone on to dance and choreograph with a variety of artists, performing with Patrick Corbin, Nelly van Bommel, Sylvain Emard, and The Chicago Ballet. He was resident choreographer for both Chicago Ballet’s spring season in 2008 and CorbinDances in 2007. He was selected as one of four emerging choreographers in the Springboard Montreal intensive run by Juilliard’s Alexandra Wells, where he created and premiered his first international work. Gregory’s works have been performed at Jacob's Pillow Inside/Out Dance Festival (MA), Joyce SoHo, Alvin Ailey Studio Theatre (NY), Dance Place (DC), Athenaeum Theatre (Chicago), and shows in New York as part of the Reverb Festival, the Dance Sampler at Symphony Space, and a self-produced collaboration with Sidra Bell at the Gershwin Hotel. He recently showed his work as part of the Emerging Artists Program at DTW’s Summer DANZ Festival and was also accepted into The Bessie Schoenberg Residency at The Yard for emerging choreographers in 2010. He debuted his own company, The DASH Ensemble, in December 2009 at JOYCE SoHo. The company has gone on to present works at the Skirball Center, DTW, Summer Stage, and The JOYCE Theater. in 2013 Dolbashian was the winner of Choreographic competitions for both Ballet Austin and Northwest Dance Project, and most recently was the winner of Hubbard Street 2's international choreographic competition. Gregory is the co-founder of The Playground, a choreographic initiative that was voted 25 to Watch in 2013 by Dance Magazine.


The Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts is the Twin Cities' newest arts center and the flagship for dance in Minnesota. Centrally located in downtown Minneapolis, The Cowles Center includes the newly refurbished 500-seat Goodale Theater; the Hennepin Center for the Arts, home to 20 leading dance and performing arts organizations; the state-of-the-art Target Education Studio, housing The Cowles Center’s distance learning program; and the new U.S. Bank Atrium. The Cowles Center fills the need for a place that is a catalyst for the creation, presentation, education, enjoyment and celebration of dance and the performing arts in the Twin Cities.




Abdo Sayegh