When it comes to talent, many places across the U.S. can be overlooked for the creativity pouring out of their region. However, thanks to social media and the hunger to succeed, many artists are only a few views away from putting their city on the map.
Baltimore club dancer TSU Terry (born Terry Wedington) hopes to do this for his city of Baltimore, especially for a community fighting to stay relevant when resources can be limited.
Terry got his start in dance at the age of 14 and he admits his inspiration was typical of a teenager. “I did it to get the girls, to be honest with you,” he said in a conversation with Global Grind. However, as time went on, Terry started to take the craft of Baltimore club dance and footwork more seriously.
Nurtured by the music of DJs like K-Swift and venues like the Paradox, TSU Terry began building his reputation as a respected dancer in the Baltimore club scene. However, when the late 2000s came around, things started to change. In 2008, K-Swift died in a tragic accident and by 2016, the Paradox closed its doors for good. “When K-Swift died, some of the important people stopped dancing,” Terry said. “But the people who kept it going in her name started to do battles. It was nothing really crazy, but we would just go to have a good time.”
Now, TSU Terry is continuing the Baltimore club tradition with his fellow TSU Dance Crew and he teaches Baltimore club dance across the country. The 28-year-old and his team have also performed with music artists like Lil Uzi Vert, Rye Rye, Lil Durk, and TT The Artist.
With Baltimore in a new era, Terry hopes the city can provide more opportunities to nurture new talent, such as a dance committee to organize events. Along with this, he hopes to share Baltimore club dance with the world.
Check out our quick chat below where TSU Terry talks mentorship, his candid experience with Lil Uzi Vert, and how his time without parents almost took him off course.
You were talking about how the dancer JusBmore serves as a mentor in your life. Could you talk about how mentors have played a role in your career?
JusBmore introduced me to the professional side of dance. He invited me to L.A. to perform at a big event that had the top choreographers showcase their choreo and I was given a solo. This gave me the opportunity to show what Baltimore footwork was about.
He also introduced me to Tony Tzar who later became one of my mentors. Tony and I collabed on a three hour intensive dance workshop at the West Coast Dance Theater, and he gave me the opportunity to teach my own choreo and the fundamentals of Baltimore club. Tony and JusBmore both schooled me on becoming a better dancer and choreographer.
And then when it comes to your personal life, is there anyone or a particular experience that’s kept you motivated?
Well yea, my grandmother and my aunt raised me. My mother and my father were in and out of my life, so me not having my parents in my life definitely served as fuel. ‘Cause I used to be angry a lot and mad at the situation I had. So I used to act out, get expelled from school, run the hallways. I don’t think I did it because I was bad, I think I probably just did it for attention. So I just took all that negative energy and used it on the dance floor. I think that’s why I go so hard.
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Was there any music artist that you worked with that sort of surprised you or that you learned something from?
I have to say Lil Uzi Vert. At the time, I didn’t know what to expect from an artist that’s coming from one of the hottest mixtapes at that time (Lil Uzi Vert vs. The World). So it was kind of like, when we meet him, how is he going to react? Is it going to be ‘what’s up’ and then leave it at that?
But he didn’t actually leave it at that. He actually gave us advice. He used to dance himself, so he was just like ‘man keep pushing, you know, ya will get there,’ and we were just chilling.
You mentioned how you handle the business for TSU Dance Crew by yourself. Do you have any advice for people who don’t have an agent or a manager and how they can handle business independently?
The most important thing is to take your time and know your worth. You will receive the work you put out. Network and build relationships, but also keep good relationships with the team members you already have, and always be understanding. Once you establish a goal with your team, work together to get it done and practice until everything is perfected.
Is there an artist you’d love to see incorporate Baltimore club dance into their music and that you’d like to work with?
Missy Elliott. It would be groundbreaking and a lot of energy.
And finally, when it comes to the future, where do you see TSU Dance Crew going?
Honestly, I hope we end up on tour next year. And we really want to get on Ellen man. I feel like she has all the dance trendy people up there, which is definitely fine. But I feel like we some hard workers that definitely deserve a spotlight to really do our thing. ‘Cause it ain’t like none of it was handed to us.
We come from a rough city. They know us for murders and bad politics. They’re starting to know us for dance, but that’s ‘cause we’re pushing it. We’re trying to knock down barriers and trying to show dancers that you’re just as important as an artist. Don’t shortchange yourself.