Rasta Thomas to Lead American National Ballet

Back in May, we shared that a brand-new ballet company, called American National Ballet, was launching in Charleston, South Carolina. Naturally, we were intrigued, but there was little information—no repertoire, and only one confirmed dancer. (That's principal Sara Murawski, who previously danced with Pennsylvania Ballet and is prominently featured in ANB's marketing.)

Now the company has listed a huge name on its website for the troupe's artistic director: Rasta Thomas. Okay, we're really listening.

Thomas is perhaps best known for directing the pyrotechnic Bad Boys of Dance, which flaunted a high-adrenaline touring show. Called Rock the Ballet, it featured flashy, crowd-pleasing choreography set to pop music. Thomas made a name for himself early on, though, winning the USA International Ballet Competition at 16. He also enjoyed a career of guesting with companies around the world, including the Mariinsky Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre and Víctor Ullate Ballet.

Octavio Martin, who danced with the National Ballet of Cuba and Sarasota Ballet, is currently listed as ANB's second company artistic director.


ANB has also announced a full roster for the 2017–18 season, including these principals, who have a breadth of experience:

Nicolai Gorodiskii, who danced with Royal New Zealand ballet this season

Denis Klimuk, who was a principal with Estonian National Ballet

Jessica Saund, longtime American Ballet Theatre corps dancer

Kara Zimmerman, who is joining from Joffrey Ballet. Prior to that she was a member of Cincinnati Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet.

While these details are all promising, we're left with one major question: What will they dance for the inaugural season?

At this time, no programming or performance details have been announced.

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