25 to Watch 2018: Alanna Morris-Van Tassel
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.
What happens during a performance is the product of the painstaking process of realizing an artistic vision. Whether held beforehand, afterward, offsite or online, audience discussions tend not to be so preordained, easily thrown off track without a skilled moderator at the helm.
"I'm someone who dreaded talkbacks and Q&As," admits Bill Bragin, former director of public programming at Lincoln Center. "While I was in New York, a lot of the time it was just audience members trying to show off how smart they were."
These events present a pile of difficult questions: How much do you reveal about a piece before it's shown? How can a conversation designed to hit key points feel casual and spontaneous? How do you cater to the needs of diverse attendees, from novice dancegoers to lifelong fans to scholars and critics? And how do you avoid smothering dance with language, flattening all its complexity?
If you think becoming a trainee or apprentice is the only path to gaining experience in a dance company environment, think again.
The University of Arizona, located in the heart of Tucson, acclimates dancers to the pace and rigor of company life while offering all the academic opportunities of a globally-ranked university. If you're looking to get a head-start on your professional dance career—or to just have a college experience that balances company-level training and repertory with rigorous academics—the University of Arizona's undergraduate and graduate programs have myriad opportunites to offer:
Yes, we realize it's only August. But we can't help but to already be musing about all the incredible dance happenings of 2019.
We're getting ready for our annual Readers' Choice feature, and we want to hear from you about the shows you can't stop thinking about, the dance videos that blew your mind and the artists you discovered this year who everyone should know about.
I dance to encourage others. The longer I dance, the more I see that much of my real work is to speak life-giving words to my fellow artists. This is a multidimensionally grueling profession. I count it a privilege to remind my colleagues of how they are bringing beauty into the world through their craft. I recently noticed significant artistic growth in a fellow dancer, and when I verbalized what I saw, he beamed. The impact of positive feedback is deeper than we realize.