TU Dance is unabashedly the most generous dance company in town. In its current concert, the 13-member troupe never veers into sentimentality as it gives body and soul to the audience without reservation. The virtuosic technique is honed to stunning perfection in service to Uri Sands' choreography, with its stylistic eclecticism and breathtaking moments of emotional resonance wrought with intricate physical clarity.
But the dancers also communicate a profound and gracious joy. The perennial favorite, "Lady," set to music by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, is a group prayer of inclusiveness brimming with playfulness, tenderness and intimacy infused with an openness of spirit.
"For You," set to music by Eyvind Kang, features a protective semi-circle of dancers who support each other in high, leggy lifts, askew kinetic shapes and moments of flight. All the while, the dancers maintain a heartfelt rapport with an audience member sitting with Toni Pierce-Sands on stage.
What would life be like if we could entrust each other with our well-being in this way? In these first two pieces, TU Dance offers a glimpse of such a utopian state. Not even the most cynical audience member could remain immune to this gracious portrayal of humanity.
It also establishes a state of receptivity for the two world premieres that follow, both by Sands. "Likedatliciousonicdindaadaa," set to music by Digable Planets and Blackalicious (among others), is a lively take on b-boying. New company members Christopher LaPlante, Alanna Morris and Winston Dynamite Brown give their moves a balletic flow. Sands astounds in a tightly hewn solo of finger moves, torso vibrations and head spins.
Pierce-Sands, looking matronly in gray jumper, is the focus of "Ash and Dust," a mediation on fading memory and time passing. A mesmerizing performer, she articulates a welter of emotions as she tip-toes off balance, sits in dismay, flickers her fingers like fading light, crumples to the floor or circles the stage with arms open.
Bright young women flicker around her. Giddy, loose-limbed men wheel around her. She neither sees nor hears them, but seemingly senses their presence. Set to tick-tock music by Vladimir Martynov, the touching, poignant work drifts at the end. Did Pierce-Sands run out of choreographic ideas with music left to spare? Or is her muted discomfort --and our own--a comment on the slow passing of time as it dissolves into nothingness?