Rasta Thomas is one of the world’s great dancers; he’s won every gold medal you can win in the ballet world but has now branched out into modern, edgy, thrilling styles of dance and in 2007 formed his own company: the Bad Boys of Dance—and they’ll be performing for one night only—Thursday, April 22, at Georgia Tech’s Ferst Center for the Arts—their Atlanta premiere.
Rasta first wowed the ATL in 2005 dancing the lead in the Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out,” choreographed by Twyla Tharp. Since then he has been a guest artist with most of the major ballet companies of the world, including New York’s American Ballet Theatre. He has fan clubs in Japan. He’s a maverick in the world of dance: Most dancers with his technical bravura and charisma are attached to a major ballet company that (in theory at least) cossets and guides their development.
“One of the benefits of being a freelance dancer,” Rasta has said, “is that you get to seize the moment. My philosophy from day one was ‘I’m going to dance—and dance.’ I never really wanted to sit in the back waiting, and quote, working up the ranks.”
As a result, he has been able to take such varied assignments as being a principal dancer in the late Patrick Swayze’s film “One Last Dance” and performing a stunning number on the 1999 Academy Awards, choreographed by Debbie Allen. Oh, yes, Rasta is still in his 20’s; he started early, a true prodigy, and has impeccable classical training (such as the Kirov). Yet he can dance anything. The AJC’s theatre critic Wendell Brock called his “Movin’ Out” performance “a mixture of James Dean and Baryshnikov.” That brings us to the Bad Boys.
I was fortunate enough to attend the world debut of Bad Boys of Dance at the venerable, prestigious Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Massachusetts in 2007. They were the talk of the Festival. Philip Szporer’s program notes were delightful and informative: “A ‘bad boy’ is someone who hasn’t much use for authority. The ‘bad boy’ will kick at convention. ‘Bad boys’ shock with graphic and provocative productions. ‘Bad boys’ snub their noses at propriety. On the other hand, in Caribbean patois, a ‘bad boy’–or bad bwai– refers to a bold man, and it’s a compliment.”
Surrounding Rasta Thomas in the current show is a razzle-dazzle cast of stunning dancers in an unpredictable fusion of ballet, contemporary, and jazz. There is now an addition to the company: one beautiful woman, a superb world-class dancer named Adrienne Canterna. Rasta and she are real-life husband and wife. They are a breathtaking duo, personally and professionally.
Okay, Atlanta—we’ve got “One Night Only,” as the song from “Chicago” says, to catch all this fire and brilliance. See you at the Ferst Center on Thursday, April 22!