Two Knight Arts grantees win 2011 Sally Awards

Arts / Article

By Delta Giordano, St. Paul Program Assistant

Knight Foundation congratulates TU Dance on their Sally Award, presented on March 26 at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts in St. Paul.  Since 1992, the Sally Ordway Irvine Awards have honored individuals and institutions that strengthen and enrich our entire state with their commitment to the arts and arts education. The awards are given in five categories:  Arts Access, Vision, Initiative, Commitment and Education.  TU Dance received the award for Initiative, which “recognizes bold new steps taken by an established or emerging artistic or cultural individual/organization that has had a significant impact on strengthening Minnesota’s artistic/cultural community.”

TU Dance, led by Alvin Ailey veterans Toni Pierce-Sands and Uri Sands, has quickly become a leading voice in the Minnesota dance scene. Founded in 2004, TU Dance has garnered audience and critical acclaim for its diverse repertory and versatile artists, and for performances that are engaging, dynamic and generous. The company has enjoyed local and national recognition, including “Artists of the Year” by the Star Tribune and City PagesDance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” and were featured on Twin Cities Public Television’s weekly art series MN Original.

In 2010 and 2011, the Knight Foundation partnered with TU Dance to help launch the TU Dance Center, which has become a vital hub for dance education, training and practice along the Central Corridor in St. Paul.  “We’re thrilled that these amazingly talented artists have chosen to make St. Paul their professional home,” said Polly Talen, Knight’s program director in St. Paul.

Knight also congratulates Kevin Smith on his Sally Award for Commitment.  Smith served as president and CEO of Minnesota Opera from 1986 to 2011, a period in which the company expanded its season, doubled its attendance and grew its annual budget from $1.5 million to $9 million.  He helped to establish the Arts Partnership, a collaboration among several Knight grantees including the Minnesota Opera, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, The Schubert Club and the Ordway, and served as its first president.