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Artists: Exposed

(page 3 of 4)

DANCE: More from TU Dance (Uri Sands and Toni Pierce-Sands) and HIJACK (Kristin Van Loon and Arwen Wilder)

Toni: So, why the name? Why “HIJACK”?

Kristin: Right away we wanted something that sounded like a rock band. You know, not just our last names followed by the word “company.” The word “hijack” came up in an art-criticism context in an article about Jenny Holdzer. She was saying that’s what an artist should do to expectations, to culture. You hijack.

Arwen: Plus, we undermine each other. Kristin has an idea to move this way, and then I say, “Well, okay, but now we have to do it backward.” That’s another part of the hijacking that happens. In our contact-improv class this morning, the topic was the dynamic between stability and instability. We like to have both together. You make the choreography impossible so that you have to improvise. But then you can’t get too flow-y in the improvisational world because you have to get back into your move on the right count. And that constant battle, that undermining, is very much like the battle between us, which is the meat of the work.

Toni: Yeah, you guys are creating work together. We don’t do that. Uri, he’s the choreographer for TU Dance. I always think of myself as a dancer, being inside the work. But you guys both get to be the watcher and the maker, simultaneously. It’s almost like you get to see your work three-dimensionally from day one. I don’t think we do that.

Kristin: With two people choreographing, you have a chance at relationship. I feel like we’re practicing the performer-audience relationship all the time.

Uri: Our relationship is shaped more cone-like, where the conceptual idea or starting point is always with me, but then it starts to wedge out. We start with enormous amounts of phrases, steps, and movements, and then it just constantly gets reduced and reduced to this sort of nugget that everything revolves around. In the creative process, for me, a lot of material that we generate in the first four days doesn’t even make it into the work. It’s almost like priming the pump.

Kristin: Totally.

Uri: Do you start with the music first? Do you start with a concept? Sometimes it’s title first.

Toni: There you go, names.

Uri: This new piece we’re working on, the title came first. I wanted to call it Smalls. I thought, “What about just a lot of tiny pieces or parts? A bunch of short phrases—a collection of small or modern steps.” But then I challenged myself on that, and I said, “What if Smalls were more like an ironic antonym, so everything is huge! Like an 80-minute work!”

Kristin: Your dance school in St. Paul is a gorgeous space.

Uri: One of the main reasons we founded it is to provide access to dance to people that wouldn’t otherwise have it. When we started the organization, I thought, “Uri, you can do the choreography hustle, hit the grind, get commissions. Or you can do the master-teacher hustle and try to teach classes around the world.” But that isn’t what we need. We don’t need dance artists frantically running around the world—we need a single place for dancers to be cultivated. So what if that could be our contribution?

See the opening concert of TU Dance’s 10th Anniversary Season at the Cowles Center November 15–17 (the cowlescenter.org) and HIJACK at the Walker Art Center December 5–7 (walkerart.org).

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