Cofounder Uri Sands is out at TU Dance after sexual assault accusations

Michael Slobodian

Michael Slobodian

Monday night, artistic director/cofounder Uri Stands stepped down from his leadership role at TU Dance amid allegations of sexual harassment and assault from a former employee, who has filed a lawsuit.

According to attorney Jeff Anderson, who is representing the unnamed woman, Sands "sexually exploited" her, and has stated that there was "nonconsensual sexual intercourse." Sara McGrane, the company’s lawyer, has stated that both Sands and TU Dance vigorously deny all allegations. They do recognize, however, that Sands and the former dancer had sexual relations.

An article that ran on New Year’s Eve at the Star Tribune, also uncovered this:

McGrane also said that in 2017, TU Dance received an anonymous complaint involving Sands that resulted in the adoption of a sexual harassment policy by the company and a policy that Sands could not travel alone with female dancers. She said Sands was asked to engage in counseling and therapy, which he did.

Sands has agreed to resign from his position as artistic director. His wife, cofounder Toni Pierce-Sands, will continue to lead the company.

TU Dance, which was founded over 15 years ago, has been a major player in the local dance scene, giving dancers and choreographers, many people of color, a break before establishing their own companies and productions.

In 2018, TU Dance collabed with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, touring the country with a highly regarded piece inspired by his music.