‘The Bad Boys of Dance’ at Montgomery College by Carolyn Kelemen


Bad Boys get folks begging for more

The Bad Boys of Dance, with guest artist Adrienne Canterna of Pretty Girls of Dance, attracts an audience looking for a fun night on the town. These fans – who were out in full force last night at Montgomery College’s Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center – have been conditioned to expect upbeat choreography, a lively show, and a rousing finale. The Rockville audience certainly got that and more in Rasta Thomas’ Rock The Ballet.

‘Bad Boys of Dance.’ Photo courtesy of UHH PAC.

Most dance audiences are content with the usual outlets for expressing appreciation:  applause, bravos and an occasional demand for an encore. Rasta’s fans, however, are unique. They whoop it up like nobody else. And they sing along to the rockin’ hits by Black Eyed Peas, U2, Michael Jackson, and Queen.

Maybe it’s the pop-concert ambiance of a Bad Boys performance, or the fact that this company has local ties, or the gut-wrenching fervor and physicality of the dancing; but whatever the reason, these fans are as loud as they are loyal.

the show opens with “I Gotta Feeling,” a peppy dance that features five guys in t-shirts and jeans. Dance Captain Tim Olson is a knockout in this number and destined to take over more of the roles created for Thomas, who did not appear until the second act. When he did, the audience went wild…again. Rasta Thomas performs in a classical ballet style with a purely Broadway array of jumps, leaps and turns that will blow you away. He also has a knack for martial arts moves, and in the specialty “bad boys” dances, he can’t be beat.

My favorite moment in last night’s show came in a dance medley of songs about mothers, as Rasta’s mom watched her son intently. Alone on stage, Rasta can do astonishing movement – sky-high leaps, spirals, falls, quick beats and his signature hip-hop backbends, and back-to-back flips without ever touching the stage. Kudos to Lighting Specialist Lutin Tanner who never missed a beat during this fast-paced solo.

Backstage after the show, Rasta Thomas hugged his mother, his father (who was also in the audience, a special dance teacher from the Maryland Youth Ballet, and a couple of Broadway buddies.

But his true love, as seen on and off stage, is his wife and choreographer, Adrienne Canterna. Move over Twyla Tharp, there’s a new kid on the dance block and she’s whipping up a storm of all sorts of new moves. As Co-Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer, Canterna is a star. Dressed in sparkles and spangles with her hair tipped in pink, her little doodles of movement appear loose, as casual as a giggle, making her look both impish and sexy. In the show, she was not doing ballet, although the lifted and rounded arms of ballet would emerge and then disappear from time to time. It wasn’t at all what we think of as modern dance – no agony, no hard edges, no pristine leotards. And yet it has all become part of the unique style of this contemporary dance maverick that continues to enrich ballet companies with her flip, jazzy, style of dance.

‘Bad Boys of Dance.’ Photo by Olive Fantifsch.

After a European tour, the troupe returns for the DC Velocity Festival Oct. 18-21. Check out their website.

Running Time: Two hours with one 15 minutes intermission and two encores.

Rock The Ballet, starring the Bad Boys of Dance, closes tonight at the Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center at Montgomery College – 51 Mannakee Street, in Rockville, MD. After a European tour, the troupe returns for the Velocity DC Festival at Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Sidney Harman Hall October 18-21, 2012.

Meet The Bad Boys of Dance.