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Alanna Morris

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HomeArtistsAlanna Morris

I am a professional dancer-choreographer, educator, and artist organizer. I was born and raised in a Caribbean neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, where my love of dance was first nurtured. My mother took my sister and I to our first dance classes at two and four years old, respectively. In the basement of our apartment building we danced African and Ballet. Along the way, mentors continued to recommend me to more advanced and intensive study in West African, Ballet and Modern dance in New York City and abroad. I am a proud graduate of LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in NYC (the “fame” school) and hold a Bachelors of Fine Arts with academic distinction from The Juilliard School (Class of 2007).

In 2007  I relocated to Minnesota to join TU Dance, founded by former principal dancers of The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Toni Pierce-Sands and Uri Sands. I enjoyed a notable 10 year career and danced in work by celebrated choreographers from all over the world. A founding teaching artist at The School at TU Dance Center, for ten years I taught children’s dance classes, helping to establish the curriculum the Center currently uses for ages 5-9 years old.

More About the 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. Since my first residency at the Horizons Youth Program at the Sabathani community center in 2010, I have provided world-class, holistic dance education that is culturally rich, intellectually inquisitive, and spiritually sensitive for children, youth, and adults. Through dance schools, church ministries, street festivals, public schools, community centers, youth shelters, adult assisted living facilities, non profit organizations, corporations, community arts programs, colleges and universities

In 2018 I was named Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch!” In 2019, Minneapolis’ City Pages’ Artist of the Year and Best Choreographer. Awarded a McKnight Dance Fellowship in 2015 and a McKnight Choreography Fellowship in 2021. In 2022, a fellowship from Springboard Danse Montréal, an internationally recognized, leading career development and job placement resource for emerging dancers and choreographers.

I love to talk with students about how I navigate my career, which includes producing and performing my own work; collaborating with esteemed artists on new performance art projects; directing an arts and cultural organization; and living a healthy and balanced life through mindful self care practices.

Learn more about Alanna in her November 2013 Artist Spotlight interview.

Program Offerings

Residencies

Self Identity through Dance/Movement (recommended for grades 6-12)

This series takes participants through a range of structured improvisation and creative exercises that combine language, movement, voice and writing to build creative agency and community. Students will be led through a methodology grounded in mindful practice and pleasure to become more observant of their mind-states, cultural histories and the function of the creative arts in their lives.

Note: can be offered as a workshop as well. Preferred class size limit is 12 participants.

Listening to Mother Nature (recommended for grades 6-12)

Art takes inspiration from the natural world in this environmental learning-centered environment. Students are asked to dive into deep listening, observation, reflection and critical thinking skills through a series that explores what grows in their backyard! Through dance technique and guided improvisation, we utilize the Elements of Dance to cultivate balance, coordination, flexibility and strength as they grow confidence in embodying nature’s wisdom. This series is a perfect compliment to environmental science studies.

Note: this is an outdoor-only class and can be offered as a workshop as well. 

Dancing through American history with social dance (recommended for grades 6-12)

Highlighting the contributions Black people have made to the development of popular dance in the United States–known as American social dance, is the theme of this series. Dancing through American history embodies the cultural influences of interdisciplinary art-making and learning. This series ends in a culminating performance where students showcase the embodied wisdom of the originators of some of our most beloved social dances. From the ring shout to the jitterbug to break dance to the Cha cha slide, this series brings people together in celebration of the spirit of innovation that unites us all.

Note: this residency is recommended to be offered over multiple weeks.

Workshops

Creative Movement (recommended for grades K-5)

Through interdisciplinary arts activities and structured improvisation, we build movement skills–balance, coordination, flexibility and strength–and vocabulary, while exploring our 5 senses and imaginations. Students gain mastery in critical problem-solving through a methodology built on the Elements of Dance. All the while joyfully connecting with others through playful curiosity. When provided with live drumming, classes integrate music education and music-making.

Note: can also be offered as a residency with live drum accompaniment.

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“Alanna Morris 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 curriculum connections.”

Daniel Gabriel, former Arts Program Director, COMPAS

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COMPAS is an arts education nonprofit that puts creativity in the hands of Minnesotans, regardless of their age, background, or skills. Based in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area, COMPAS teaching artists deliver creative experiences and arts programming across Minnesota.

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This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.