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TU Dance 2012. Photo by Brandon Stengel.

For their eclectic fall season performance at the O’Shaughnessy this weekend, TU Dance (a Knight Arts grantee) offered four very different dance works, including one world premiere, “Feather and Bone,” choreographed by TU Dance Cofounder Uri Sands.

The night started strong with “Amusement of the Gods,” a cerebral, complex work choreographed by Uri Sands which debuted in 2010. By turns angular and fluid, it’s a mélange of modern movement, inspired equally by ballet and African dance, against the backdrop of grand, orchestral melodies. The dancers shift mood like quicksilver, their jutting hips, sharp elbows and heavy footfalls tempered by rolling shoulders and raised arms. It’s a subtle meditation on the human condition – from romantic love and the cumulative gravities of age to the expanses of religious ecstasy.

For the next piece, “Strum” — choreography by Camille Brown and accompanied by strings, notably acoustic guitar by Rodrigo y Gabriela — the dancers’ movements turned liquid, athletic but disciplined, thrumming with restrained exuberance. Then came Sands’s new work, “Feather and Bone.” A lone dancer enters the stage in silence, a tall plume carefully poised upright on an outstretched palm; her movements are painstaking, less sure for this precarious balancing act. As more join her, the silence persists; dancers begin to move in undulating pairs; their breathing and footfalls the only sounds we hear. As the soundtrack shifts from silence to Bon Iver’s haunting vocals, hard-won control gives way to sensuality, to reveling in the play of sinew on bone, intertwined limbs and skin on skin. The piece is delicate, marked by nuance and restraint and disarming in its vulnerability. It is quite different in character from Sands’s other, more muscular work.

The full company of ten dancers come together for the fourth work, rounding out the evening with a rousing rendition of Sands’s 2009 piece “Sense(ability) Sketch III – Earth.” The gestures here are decisive and grand, the movement’s focus firmly planted on the ground beneath the dancers’ percussive feet. The work feels at once celebratory and martial; the dancers move in concert, momentum and sheer kinetic power escalating until the finale, when “snow” rains down on the troupe from above, their feet kicking up bits of white stuff with every step.

TU Dance 2012. Photo by Brandon Stengel.

TU Dance took the O’Shaughnessy Auditorium stage for their fall concert at St. Catherine University in St. Paul Nov. 16-18. For more information, visit the company’s website: http://www.tudance.org/.

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