Rasta Thomas - the 'Bad Boy' of dance
Rasta Thomas, for those of you who haven't heard of him, is an American dancer, martial artist, gymnast and choreographer who was born in San Fransisco in 1981, and raised in Saudi Arabia and Washington DC. At the age of seven Rasta's father enrolled the youngster in ballet class as a punishment for being disrespectful. Thomas surprised his father by excelling, and continued to dance, entering the commercial competition circuit and winning many awards icluding the Star Quest, Showbiz, and Star Power dance contests.
At the age of twelve he begun studying at the Kirov Academy of Ballet, and also the Washington School of ballet. As a teenager, Rasta made dance competition history with honors including the Special Jury Prize from the 1994 Paris International Dance Competition, the Gold Medal in the Junior Men's Division from the 1996 Varna International Ballet Competition, and the Gold Medal in the Senior Men's Division from the Jackson, MS USA-IBC. After this Rasta decided to focus more on a commercial career, performing a solo at the '99 Academy Awards, being featured in a clothing Ad for GAP, and enjoying many other public appearances that saw him gaining recognition and popularity. However, after a conversation with one of his mentors, Arthur Mitchell, he decided to "get back on an artist's path", dancing for a time as a 'guest dancer' and then dancing in Russia with the Kirov Ballet. In 2002 Thomas moved back to Maryland where he continued to dance with companies as a guest artist and then in 2007 he founded the Bad Boys of Dance (BBD) Company, which know consists of many of the most versatile male dancers from around the world including many So You Think You Can Dance alumni, and also Rasta's wife, Adrienne Canterna. Rock The Ballet is one BBD show that incorporates jazz, hip hop, tap and gymnastics into its ballet elements, and has enjoyed much success worldwide, as well as criticism. Mixing pop/rock music with ballet was always going to attract attention, both positive and negative, but Rock the Ballet's ongoing success confirms that the dance world is open to change - “The critics hate us, the traditionalists despise us. But I think that’s part of being a revolutionary. When people look back on this point in the century, they’ll see the things that were changing,”~ Rasta Thomas.