"Alanna Morris-Van Tassel brings world class dancing ability—and a global sensibility—to every classroom she visits. She's great at directing the energy of either individual kids or a rambunctious group into productive learning and deepened curriculim connections." -Daniel Gabriel, former Arts Program Director, COMPAS
I am a professional contemporary dancer, teaching artist and choreographer. I was born and raised in New York, where my love of dance was first nurtured. My mother took my sister and I to our first dance classes at four and two years old, in the basement of our apartment building, where we danced African and Ballet. I continued dancing in public school and after-school programs, doing Hip-Hop, Afro-Caribbean, and Jazz.
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Along the way, mentors continued to recommend me to more advanced and intensive study, to various styles of Modern dance and Ballet. I went on to train in noted dance studios in the US (such as NYC’s LaGuardia performing arts high school) and abroad, and eventually graduated from The Juilliard School with a BFA in Dance. I relocated to MN in 2007 to join TU Dance (directors Toni Pierce-Sands and Uri Sands), where I am currently a performing and teaching artist.
My passion for education is centered in the belief that an essential part of learning is finding a way of learning that works for you. Crack that and the quality of learning, as an experience and in terms of self-development, rises according to the resources you give to learning. I use the creative arts, imagination and play to provide experiences for youth that facilitate learning. Considering the host of challenges we can face in education, I am an advocate of the power of artful habits to enhance our self-development.
I currently teach in public schools, camps, youth theater companies across the Twin Cities, and at the new TU Dance Center (Saint Paul). I am a 2011 MN Sage Awardee for Outstanding Performer. In 2015 I hope to begin a solo project, presenting an evening of solo dance that brings a diverse body of emerging choreographers to Minnesota stages.
Students will increase their awareness of self in relation to self, their peers, and the world around them. Each class will build on a theme and culminate in an original artistic presentation by the students, incorporating dance and movement and any other artistic outlets. Students will explore their own values, thinking critically, examining and even challenging their own values along the way. Daily themes include exploring the role of movement in our culture and in other cultures, the meaning of gestures in everyday life, exploring the role of movement through time, how the concepts of The Looking Glass Self impacts one's movement, and storytelling through movement. The creative process is key and involves ice-breaking warm-ups, as well as skill-building and creation, using vigorous use of improvisation, movement activities, writing prompts, choreography, dance responses, and observation. This program is geared towards creative thinkers and brings life lessons into the classroom.
Note: This program is designed to inform or complement a teacher-led classroom lesson. When possible, all skill-building activities are done without talking.
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