Brandon Stengel, Courtesy Tu Dance

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.


Find out who else made Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch" list this year.

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Stark Photo Productions, Courtesy Harlequin

Why Your Barre Can Make or Break Your At-Home Dance Training

Throughout the pandemic, Shelby Williams, of Royal Ballet of Flanders (aka "Biscuit Ballerina"), has been sharing videos that capture the pitfalls of dancers working from home: slipping on linoleum, kicking over lamps and even taking windows apart at the "barre." "Dancers aren't known to be graceful all of the time," says Mandy Blackmon, PT, DPT, OSC, CMTPT, head physical therapist/medical director for Atlanta Ballet. "They tend to fall and trip."

Many dancers have tried to make their home spaces as safe as possible for class and rehearsal by setting up a piece of marley, like Harlequin's Dance Mat, to work on. But there's another element needed for taking thorough ballet classes at home: a portable barre.

"Using a barre is kinda Ballet 101," says 16-year-old Haley Dale, a student in her second year at American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. She'd bought a portable barre from Harlequin to use at her parents' home in Northern Virginia even before the pandemic hit. "Before I got it, honestly I would stay away from doing barre work at home. Now I'm able to do it all the time."

Blackmon bought her 15-year-old stepdaughter a freestanding Professional Series Ballet Barre from Harlequin early on in quarantine. "I was worried about her injuring herself without one," she admits.

What exactly makes Harlequin's barres an at-home must-have, and hanging on to a chair or countertop so risky? Here are five major differences dancers will notice right away.

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December 2020