Artistic Director, dancer and choreographer, Michael Thomas is the founder of BLACK TORTOISE DANCE. A native of Dillon, South Carolina, Thomas made his professional debut with renowned dancer and artistic director Judith Jamison.
Mr. Thomas has performed principal roles with a variety of dance companies, including the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, being featured in Judith Jamison’s Emmy Award-winning PBS special, A Hymn for Alvin Ailey, performing a solo to his own words as interpreted by award winning actress/playwright Anna Deavere Smith. Michael also danced with the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company in the critically acclaimed production of Men’s Stories, Zvi Gotheiner & Dancers, Dance Brazil, Donald Byrd/ The Group, and the Complexions Contemporary Ballet.
Along with two former Ailey dancers, Elizabeth Roxas and Karine Plantadit, Mr. Thomas formed RhythMEK, enjoying rave reviews for their company premieres at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, as well as performances at Prospect Park’s Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival, LMCC’s Evening Stars at the World Trade Center and the Telluride Dance Festival in Colorado.
His choreography has been commissioned by The University of North Carolina School of the Arts, The Cape Town Dance Company, The Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, Long Island University (Brooklyn and Post campuses), Encuentro Internacional de Danza in Madrid, Spain, The Ailey School, The Beijing Dance Academy and DanceworX in Mumbai, India.
Michael’s first solo dance theater effort, Motion Theatre Lab enjoyed premieres of his sci-fi ballet, Aquarius Rising as part of the City Parks SummerStage Series and Thoroughly Modern Michael at Aaron Davis Hall. Mr. Thomas is currently working on his one man show, FINDING EROS, dancing to songs performed by the incomparable Sammy Davis Jr., this is Michael’s first production for Black Tortoise.
Besides his company work, Michael served as the Program Director for the Complexions Contemporary Ballet’s dance intensives in New York for six years, as well as teaching for The Ailey Arts & Education Revelations Residencies. He’s currently Co-Director of CAS/AileyCamp New York, a six week self-empowerment camp for young people ages 11 - 14. He teaches the Horton technique at Marymount Manhattan College and Hunter College, Dance Composition and Choreography at LIU Post, and Contemporary dance at the Ailey School, as well as dance festivals and schools both in the US and abroad.
Mr. Thomas resumed his work with Anna Deavere Smith as her movement coach with acclaimed actress/playwright Anna Deavere Smith as movement coach for her one woman shows, Let Me Down Easy, On Grace and Notes From the Field, at the American Repertory Theatre and New York’s Second Stage Theatre. Michael also works with Ms. Smith at the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU as a key teacher in her classes at the Department of Performance Studies.
He received his BFA in Dance from the North Carolina School of Arts where he was a recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence.