Terri Tompkins, a native of Norfolk, Virginia, trained at the Tidewater Ballet Academy along with fellow dancers Lorraine Graves and Tyrone Brooks and spent the summer of 1978 at Dance Theatre of Harlem’s school. She was a member of the Tidewater Ballet before joining the Dance Theatre of Harlem in 1980. Already a member of the company, Tompkins graduated from the Professional Children’s School that year.
Tompkins was a featured dancer in the DTH premieres of Bronislava Nijinska’s Les Biches (1983), Agnes de Mille’s Fall River Legend (1983), Michael Smuin’s Songs of Mahler (1984), and Jerome Robbins’ Fancy Free (1985).
In 1984, the dancer was praised by Louisville, Kentucky’s The Courier-Journal as “especially fine” in George Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments.