Waheed Works presents 'Black Rose'
On Sunday, September 23 at 7:30 p.m., Waheed Works, the brainchild of Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco) principal dancer Tommie-Waheed Evans, presents the premiere of “Black Rose,” taking place at the University of the Arts – Gershman Y Gym, 401 S. Broad Street.
A full-length piece featuring four male and five female dancers, “Black Rose,” choreographed by Evans and set to original music and sound design by Jordan Shannon, borrows from several genres, but is built largely on ballet and jazz technique.
“I came up with ‘Black Rose’ after just seeing a picture on Instagram of someone’s black roses,” said Evans, a charismatic Los Angeles native who is on the faculty of the University of the Arts and is the resident choreographer for Eleone Dance Theatre. “So then I did some research on ‘Black Rose,’ and basically what ‘Black Rose’ is about is an array of occurrences — about different situations and how sometimes a situation can tie in together, but how a situation’s very different. I based it like a movie. You know, a movie like ‘Colored Girls’? How all the stories were different, but some kind of way, they all intertwine. They all came back to a meeting place.
“So basically, that is what ‘Black Rose’ is about. It’s about different situations — one about devotion, one about growth, one about dealing with love, one about vengeance, one about sadness, one about farewell, one about existing — but they all are based around love, and they all come back to this very common place.”
Now in his 11th year with Philadanco, the effervescent, talented and entertaining Evans believes that his tenure with the internationally acclaimed company has contributed greatly to his development as a choreographer.
“I learn from every choreographer that comes into that building,” he said. “I learn either the good or the bad, and what I’ve trained myself to do is I treat it as a classroom for myself as a choreographer. I see what they may have done or how they may build the piece, and sometimes I take in a concept [and think] ‘Well, I would have done this...’ or sometimes I take it in and I’m like, ‘Wow! I’m amazed!’ Either way, I’m learning.”
Joan Myers Brown, founder and executive artistic director of Philadanco, has watched and nurtured Evans’ growth over the years, and now views him as a respected and capable leader of her company.
“He started experimenting with choreography in the program that we call ‘Danco on Danco,’ and then he started getting invested in the work,” she said. “Now that he’s getting some recognition, I’m kind of proud of him — the fact that he’s still keeping his ties with Philadanco. Sometimes people, when they start doing other things, they want to step away. As a key member of the company, his responsibilities in the company, outside of being a dancer — he does a lot of keeping track of other people and the choreography. He’s a very responsible and endearing person for us.”
As Tommie-Waheed Evans, who would love to ultimately see his work on the popular reality/competition show “So You Think You Can Dance,” carves out a place for himself and his artistic endeavors, his objective is quite clear.
“I’m really trying to do work that’s different, work that’s new, work that’s full of energy, work that’s cutting edge,” he said in conclusion. “I’m really trying to do work that is not of the norm of what we see in our genre of dance, as African Americans. Doing full-length productions is kind of different. It’s kind of unique, so I definitely want to build on that. I’m trying to build on my voice.”
Tickets for “Black Rose” will be sold at the door: $20 for general admission and $10 for students with ID.