Taylor Collier, Christian Warner and Elayna Waxse are company members with TU Dance, the St. Paul-based dance company founded by Artistic Director Toni Pierce-Sands and Artistic Director/Choreographer Uri Sands. Collier, Warner and Waxse talk training, their love of moving and TU Dance with producer Brittany Shrimpton.
What is your dance background and training?
COLLIER: I am originally from Washington, D.C. and received my training from the Dance Institute of Washington, Kevin T. Malone, and the Washington School of Ballet. In 2014, I graduated from Dominican University of California/Alonzo Lines Ballet School where I received my B.F.A. in Dance. I’ve had the privileged of attending various summer programs, festivals, and workshops in the US and internationally for dance. After graduation, I joined TU Dance as an apprentice and then became a company member in 2015.
WARNER: I am originally from Houston, TX where I trained in musical theater for many years before switching my focus to concert dance. I am a graduate of the High School for Performing and Visual Arts in Houston and Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA with a BFA in dance. I’ve performed works by artists such as Troy Powell, Stacey Tookey, Sonya Tayeh, Luke Murphy, Dwight Rhoden, Uri Sands as well as performed on Broadway in Disney’s The Lion King. Other musical credits include The Who’s Tommy, Hairspray, and Little Shop of Horrors.
WAXSE: I trained as a classical ballet dancer in my hometown of Overland Park, Kansas, with summers spent at the School of American Ballet in NYC. I then was asked to join the Professional Division program at Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle, WA. I began my professional career with Minnesota Dance Theatre, and went on to perform with Colorado Ballet before joining TU Dance in 2012.
What draws you to dance?
COLLIER: I believe that dance has the ability to express emotion, tell a story or narrative and connect with the most humane parts of us. Although many people may not understand the technical elements of dance, everyone can understand what it means to feel, think, question, or share in an experience. Uri often explores different ideas or concepts in his works, which reveals more to me than I could’ve imagined. Ultimately, dance has the power to bring different communities together through our common experiences and histories.
WARNER: What I love about dance is that at this point in my life, it is the most clear and effective way of communication for me when words don’t amount to what I am trying to convey. It has the potential to explore and portray so many complexities of the human experience without saying a word.
WAXSE: I dance to share an embodied existence with others. Dance has the ability to showcase the best and worst human qualities, and can connect with audiences on an intimate level.
Why did you want to dance with TU Dance Company? What makes the company unique?
COLLIER: I decided to join TU Dance because its mission and vision truly align with my values and desires for an organization. I’ve always admired the work of Toni and Uri and have enjoyed performing [Uri’s] pieces. It is remarkable that TU Dance provides access and dance education to all communities. Additionally, the sense of community and support that permeates throughout the organization is something special. I think these aspects make this company different from many others and vital to the dance world today. Additionally, I appreciate that TU Dance values representation and you can see yourself represented either among the artists or the works we perform.
WARNER: TU Dance offered me the opportunity to experience many different dance styles of interest all at once such as in ballet, modern dance, and contemporary studies. TU Dance is unique in that the community is so diverse and really has something to all from different walks of life.
WAXSE: I joined TU Dance because I believe in their mission of diversity and quality. It is not just a group of dancers who perform regularly; it’s a community that provides access to dance for all generations.
To see more dancing by TU Dance, or to learn more about their recent collaboration with The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music Series and Bon Iver, click here.
‘COME THROUGH’ IS:
Uri Sands, Artistic Director/ Choreographer
Toni Pierce-Sands, Artistic Director
Molly Beahen, Middle West Management
Kate Nordstrum, SPCO’s Liquid Music Series
Abdo Sayegh Rodriguez, TU Dance
“Come Through” was commissioned by The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music Series