Preview: TU Dance electrifies the O’Shaughnessy

When TU Dance literally leaped headfirst into the local dance community a few years back–landing at the top of the heap–it was as if a cool (but not too cool) breeze had swept in, sweeping away much of the pedantry, didacticism, and other limitations of a rather academic choreography scene, muscling open new possibilities through sheer physicality, playful humor, and intuition. In its fall performances, November 21 to 23 at O’Shaughnessy Auditorium in St. Paul, TU Dance will offer a new work that gets right to the pulse of choreographer Uri Sands’ intuitive approach: Sense(ability) Sketch 1, the first in a series exploring the relationship between the senses and the elements.

Sands, who leads the company with his wife, the dancer Toni Pierce-Sands, is not so much a conceptualist as a sensualist, one who notices the way everything from a blowing leaf to a fallen body to the act of apology makes him feel–in fact, he doesn’t merely notice, he makes himself vulnerable to the emotion and then embodies it, from his spine to his toes. Emotions, from joy to terror, possess his dancers, convulsing them in breaktaking ripples. One of the few companies that lives up to the promise of not just telling but showing us life in a new way–a way that looks like much more fun, and exercise, than we may be having.