Friday, June 4, 2010

Rasta Thomas and the "Bad Boys of Dance"

Ever heard of Rasta Thomas? You might have seen his company, Bad Boys of Dance, on Dancing with the Stars this past season, or have heard of them to be featured at this years' International Ballet Competition in Jackson, MS (see the promo video HERE). According to the University of Pennsylvania, Rasta is a "wunderkind and prodigy, winner of just about every gold medal at major international ballet competitions." And his company exists to "show you that men can dance" and "features the most versatile male dancers on the planet, including dancers from TV’s hit show So You Think You Can Dance. These techno wonders, can and do anything and everything, fusing hip-hop, capoeira, jazz and contemporary ballet into one awe-inspiring performance, wowing audiences worldwide."

Sounds pretty cool, huh? Who doesn't want to see a bunch of muscular, strong, sexy men - dancing?! It's not something you see often, and I think it's awesome that Rasta has created a company featuring men, to show that men can be incredible dancers, more than just partners for the ladies.

It's no wonder that his company is so popular - Rasta really is a dancing prodigy. From being told he would never walk again to being the youngest recipient of the Jury Prize at the Paris International Ballet Competition in Washington, D.C. Here is some of his trivia:
  • Born in 1981 in San Fransisco, CA, but spent his early years in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where his father was a physician for the Royal Family.
  • His grandparents emigrated to the U.S. from Saudi Arabia in 1933 to Galveston, Texas. Their neighbors were hostile towards them because of their nationality, and burned down their house, so they changed their last name from Ramacandra to Thomas and started going to church.
  • Rasta started taking martial arts classes at the age of 3 to help him learn to walk, after being in a very bad car accident at the age of 1. According to an interview done by the Kirov Ballet, "Doctors said he might never walk again, that if he did, he would always hobble. In fact, the leg healed improperly so that it extended out of the hip socket at an odd angle." Pretty incredible, huh?
  • His family moved back to the U.S. when he was 9 so he could train at the Kirov Ballet in Washington, D.C. (He had begun taking ballet in Saudi Arabia at age 7 as punishment for being rude in his martial arts classes, but ended up loving it!)
  • Age 13 - made dance history to became youngest person ever to receive the Jury Prize at the Paris International Ballet Competition (1994)
  • Age 14 - he became a member of Le Jeune Ballet de France
  • Age 15 - he won the Junior Gold Medal at the 1996 Varna International Ballet Competition
  • Age 16 - he won the Senior Gold Medal at the 1998 Jackson International Ballet Competition
  • Age 16 - he invited by the Hartford Ballet to be a Principal Artist 
  • Made his premier on Broadway in Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out,” choreographed by Twyla Tharp, dancing the lead role.
  • In 2007, his company debuted at Jacob's Pillow
  • He has been a guest artist in numerous companies, including Kirov Ballet, Imperial Russian Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet, Beijing Central Ballet, Victor Ullate Ballet of Spain, Inoue Ballet of Japan, the Universal Ballet of Korea and Dance Theatre of Harlem.

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