BEST CHOREOGRAPHER - 2006
Uri Sands consolidates stylistic diversity with formal rigor. He makes luscious, unpredictable, sophisticated movement, and then he knows what to do with it. Going beyond the inarticulate fusion of so much contemporary dancemaking, he creates dynamic dances with cohesive content and poetic imagery. Sands's movement lingo incorporates dialects from ballet, West African, traditional, modern, and streetwise American dance. But it's his architectural yen for shaped space and his instinct for calibrating the tension between formal restraint and emotional abandon that makes his work so compulsively watchable. His Shapes and Gates, for instance, explores Big Concept territory through the sinister history of minstrel shows and puppet theater: The idea of people being manipulated by nasty societal forces—racial prejudice, social injustice, personal anxiety—plays out with nods to the high-stepping, stereotyped maneuvers of minstrelsy, the slapstick ferocity of Punch and Judy shows, and the mortal longings of Pinocchio and Punchinello. And his Work XVII: Lady limns the music of Ladysmith Black Mambazo with multi-textured movement and buoyant communal rituals. Sands's growing body of work for his first-rate fledgling company TU Dance, which he co-founded with Toni Pierce Sands, has given this community a much-needed jolt of vitality and panache.