Faculty Q&A


We asked Vincent Thomas about his art and his mission to introduce men to the joy of dance despite persistent obstacles.

Did you study dance as a child? |

There was no place to study dance in my hometown of Edgefield, South Carolina. I danced in my living room, at the community center, and at family barbecues and reunions. I was influenced by TV shows, especially “Soul Train”, where I saw people like me dancing. A cousin and I sang at talent shows, and I choreographed our duets. I was a drum major in high school and very active in choir and musical theater. But it never occurred to me that I could be a professional dancer. I didn’t really discover my love for dance until I was 18 and majoring in music education at the University of South Carolina.

What inspired you to pursue dance professionally? |

As a freshman I took my very first dance class and fell head-over-heels in love after the first head roll. When I ran out of elective classes, I studied ballet, jazz, tap and ballroom off campus. I earned my bachelor’s degree and taught choral music, but continued to study dance. I found modern dance at Columbia College, a women’s college in Columbia, South Carolina. The teachers sneaked me in to take classes with the dance majors, and it was just mind blowing. Eventually I decided “I’ve got to follow this” and enrolled at Florida State University to pursue an MFA in dance.

How did you come to TU? |

Catherine Horta-Hayden (TU professor of dance) was a fellow graduate student at Florida State. After receiving my master’s degree, I danced with Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, then taught dance at a high school in Virginia and as an adjunct at George Mason University. Catherine, who was teaching at TU, approached me about conducting a master class. Although I had never heard of Towson University, I had a great time. The students were fantastic and the Department of Dance seemed so vibrant. In 2002 I accepted an offer to join the faculty as a visiting guest artist.

Why are you so passionate about introducing more men to dance? |

I feel that one of my missions at TU is to bring men into the fold of dancing—and to show them it’s OK to dance. We are socialized to think of men and masculinity in certain ways, and that affects men who want to move. They may redirect their interest to other activities or athletics because that’s how they’ve been socialized. In many cultures men play a vital role as dancers, so I let men know that it’s their birthright to move. After all, we move before we speak or walk—the body is a moving thing.

“I had a football player in the class who told me, ‘Now I know how to fall’.”

How popular are your non-major dance classes for men? |

Movement Enhancement Skills for Men has grown from an initial enrollment of six to about 25–30 in each of two sections. I require the students to attend a couple of dance concerts and write a paper about the experience. A least 90 percent of these men have never seen a professional dance concert, and they often can’t wait to go to another one. A few years ago I had a football player in the class who told me, “Now I know how to fall.” He’d gained a greater awareness of his body and how to protect it. A criminal-justice major who’d been dancing with me for 2 ½ years said he wanted to find a way to bring movement and dance to law enforcement.

Would you explain how you work with middle- and high-school students? |

I’m in the third year of a grant received from the Baltimore County Commission on Arts and Sciences to work with male students in the Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) and to create the BCPS Men’s Ensemble, which is composed of middle- and high-school students. I see them weekly to work on technique and to create a new work. They’ve toured the Center for the Arts and taken classes with the non-majors in my Movement Enhancement for Men class. The BCPS Men’s Ensemble has performed with dance majors in the TU Dance Company and in some of my company’s projects. I’m committed to showing them what’s possible, and of course I hope they get excited about dance and enroll at TU.

What is VTDance? |

VTDance is my solo-based company, though I audition and bring in other artists and performers based on the project. We’re taking “What’s Going On,” which looks at life, love and social justice through the music of Marvin Gaye, to Ohio and Montana before returning to DC Dance Place this fall. “In the Company of Men Part III” is scheduled to premiere in 2018. We’re building audiences, literacy and appreciation, as well as promoting the idea that all people have some kind of art within. Through art, we connect to our deepest humanity.


Vincent E. Thomas, professor of dance, is an award-winning dancer, choreographer and teacher.

He has danced with Dance Repertory Theatre, Randy James Dance Works, EDGEWORKS Dance Theater and Liz Lerman Dance Exchange. His choreography has been presented at various national and international venues.

Among his numerous awards are a 2009 Best of Baltimore-Choreographer Award, 2009 Baker Artist Choice Award (B Grant), three Metro DC Dance Awards, several Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Dance Awards, and a 2008 Kennedy Center Local Dance Commission Project Award.

He received rave reviews for his performance of “iWitness” at the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.

His work “We Hold These Truths…” was selected for the 2012 National ACDFA Festival at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

He premiered “F.E.A.R. Project” with Annika B. Lewis in Denmark and the United States in 2016. He was a 2012-13 American Dance Institute Incubator Artist (Maryland), an Urban Bush Women BOLD facilitator/faculty member for the UBW Summer Institutes (New York), and artistic director for the Marvin Gaye Project Company.

He is the founder of VTDance, a Baltimore-based dance company that provides an outlet for solo, group and collaborative choreographic endeavors.