Choreographer, professor, and mentor Tommie-Waheed Evans kicks off our new OUTPour series called a “A Day in the Life,” celebrating a staple in Philadelphia’s modern dance community.
With nearly two decades of professional choreography experience, Tommie is not kicking back — he’s just beginning to kick high. His dance resume includes the Alvin Ailey student showcase group, Complexions Contemporary Ballet and the Emmy Awards. Word on the streets is there’s modern dance, and then there is “Waheed” dance.
Raised by a single mother, he first realized he wanted to be a dancer when she would take him to her co-worker’s kids’ recitals. Seeing children his age motivated him to learn the art of dance.
After he graduated from the Hamilton High School in Los Angeles, he went on to the Lula Washington Dance Theater — also in Los Angeles — his first professional dance company. Inspired by the African American church and the death of his grandmother, Tommie has created amazing choreography such as “Crossroads” and “Dust,” which premiered in December 2011.
The Waheed technique can be described in one word “Everything!” It cannot be put in a box. He learned how to infuse all of these different dance techniques from his mentor Lula Washington.
As a professor at the University of the Arts Conservatory in Philadelphia, Tommie feels as though he does not just teach his students choreography, he shows them the mission of dance. He wants his students to see themselves in his choreography, to speak to their beauty and lived experience.
Working on his third decade of professional dance, the professor sits with OUTpour. Our own Robert Graves reports Tommie shows no signs of slowing down as he is just getting warmed up.
Antar Bush is a public-health advocate, professor at West Chester University and executive producer of OUTPour LGBTQ. He is committed to advocating for health equality in all communities. Follow him on Instagram @antarbushmswmph.