Moving Words is a documentary/dance film that blends movement, picture and sound in innovative ways to reflect the drama of everyday life in the city that 1,603,797 people call home. It is filmed entirely on location in the streets of Philadelphia.


Moving Words is a collaboration between the Philadelphia Ballet’s department of Community Education and Public Programs, Choreographer TommieWaheed Evans and filmmaker Glenn Holsten. Featuring Philadelphia Ballet dancers Zechang Liang and Thays Golz Tommie WaheedEvans’ choreography in the film is inspired by Philadelphian’s words.

The film’s richly textured sound design includes excerpts from conversations with men and women who are connected to the Philadelphia Ballet community in some way. Everyone lives in Philadelphia, though many have come here from somewhere else. We hear from educators, dancers, choreographers, lawyers, high school principals and students about the toughness and beauty of the city, and the forces that push and pull us and ultimately move us forward each day. The film explores the meaning of home for Philadelphians, which involves concepts of space, comfort, identity, love and freedom.

This organic approach to film development reflects the creative team’s approach to their own work. Evans’ contemporary ballet aesthetic is infused by an African American aesthetic. His work reveals a creative edge and physical power that was derived from his 14 years as a member of Philadanco. “A lot of what Philadelphia is, is now of me,” he says of his home of 20 years. He creates a collaborative space where the dancers are able interpret the movement first as fits their bodies best, and then, together, he and the dancers work to generate and manipulate the movement. Holsten’s work also is collaborative at its core, working with artistic and community partners on a journey to creatively investigate this world we live in, to make the difficult understandable, to make the familiar new, and to honor the stories that make each one of us whole.

This innovative film will challenge audiences to acknowledge the tensions and triumphs that exist every day in our city. It will show us how daily movement is a part of who we are and connects us in ways often overlooked, and can, perhaps, illuminate a path forward.


Tommie-Waheed Evans

Thays Golz

Glenn Holsten

Zecheng Liang

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