Uri Sands leads TU Dance in rehearsal. Photo by Graham Tolbert Photography, Courtesy TU Dance

TU Dance's Uri Sands Resigns Amidst Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Uri Sands has resigned as co-artistic director of TU Dance, according to a release issued by the company this week. A recent lawsuit alleges sexual misconduct claims against him, which he denies.

Toni Pierce-Sands, his wife and co-founder, will continue to lead the Twin Cities-based company as artistic director.

Both Sands and TU Dance deny the allegations made in a lawsuit filed in October by an unnamed former company member, including sexual misconduct and negligent supervision of Sands by the company. But according the release, Sands is resigning to "help TU Dance move forward in providing a safe and healthy environment for all."

Sara McGrane, the lawyer representing both Sands and TU Dance, acknowledged that Sands did have a sexual relationship with the former company member during the time in question, but maintains that the claims in the lawsuit are untrue, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

This is not Sands' first time facing misconduct allegations: According to the Star Tribune, an anonymous complaint filed in 2017 led to TU Dance adopting a sexual harassment policy, and a policy barring Sands from traveling alone with female dancers. Sands consequently participated in counseling and therapy.

It is unclear whether Sands, who is the company's main choreographer, will still create or set work on TU Dance. But with his wife still at the helm, it's possible that his involvement—whether formal or not—will continue.

Update 2/18: TU Dance has reached a legal settlement with the dancer alleging Sands assaulted her.

Update 1/3: Bon Iver has announced that all upcoming productions of Come Through—their hit collaboration with TU Dance, choreographed by Sands—have been canceled, and will not be rescheduled.

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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.

December 2020