In a quietly explosive solo embedded in Uri Sands' Matter, Alanna Morris-Van Tassel epitomized the grace and openness for which TU Dance is acclaimed. Wrapped in the American flag, she infused her twists and reaches, bound hands and open-armed vulnerability with a spring-loaded legacy of ancestral grief and personal gratitude before her hunched body detonated in heart-wrenching spasms of release.
Kari Mosel, courtesy Tu Dance
Morris-Van Tassel, who left TU Dance in the fall to embark on a solo career, is also intimately familiar with African diasporic dance traditions, including orisha dance from Trinidad. (Her mother is originally from Trinidad and Tobago.) She's currently building a project that will include solos created for her by Trinidadian choreographer Jamie Philbert (director of Art on Purpose, where Morris-Van Tassel was the artist-in-residence last year) and Israeli choreographer Idan Sharabi (commissioned as part of her 2015 McKnight Dance Fellowship).
Her depth of commitment includes workshops in community spaces and public schools. Wherever you find her, Morris-Van Tassel embodies the power of dance to create deep and lasting connections where words cannot.
Mention "flamenco" to anyone in the Cuban dance scene, and they are likely to bring up Irene Rodríguez. Artistic director of Compañía Irene Rodríguez, Cuba's premiere flamenco company, Rodríguez has shared the stage with such renowned flamenco artists as Eva Yerbabuena, María Juncal and Antonio Gades. She is also a faculty member at Havana's Fernando Alonso National Ballet School, and has served as a choreography consultant at Ballet Nacional de Cuba.
Irina Kolpakova in the studio with Katherine Williams. Photo by Quinn Wharton for Pointe.
Being coached by a treasure like former Kirov prima Irina Kolpakova is an experience most dancers only dream of. But company members at American Ballet Theatre have been the lucky beneficiaries of her wisdom since 1990. Thanks to Instagram, where pros like Gillian Murphy and James Whiteside share snippets of their sessions with Kolpakova, any ballet lover can be a fly on the wall during rehearsals with the famed ballet mistress.