Alvin Ailey School Professor
Artistic Director, dancer and choreographer, Michael Leon Thomas is the founder of MOTION THEATER LAB, which is dedicated to developing dance theater programming for television and film. A native of South Carolina, Thomas made his professional debut with renowned dancer and artistic director Judith Jamison.
In 1991 Michael joined the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, where he gained instant recognition for his passionate performances of Alvin Ailey’s Love Song’s, Billy Wilson’s Winter in Lisbon, Jawole Zollar’s Shelter and Dwight Rhoden’s Frames. Thomas was also 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.
Mr. Thomas has performed principal roles with a variety of dance companies, including 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.
Thomas began his artistic direction work in 1998 when he and two former Ailey dancers, Elizabeth Roxas and Karine Plantadit form RhythMEK, enjoying rave reviews for their company premieres at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival with Lightbody, 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. MOTION THEATER LAB has 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.
Besides his company work, Michael is
the program director for the Complexions Contemporary Ballet’s dance intensives, teaches for both The Ailey Arts & Education Revelations residencies and the Lubovitch Dance Your Dream Programs. 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 CW Post), Encuentro Internacional de Danza in Madrid, Spain.
Mr. Thomas resumed his work with Anna Deavere Smith as her movement coach for the US tour and the PBS filming of her one woman show Let Me Down Easy. He continues to teach at Ailey Extension, in the US and abroad and is currently working on his next production, Apotheosis. 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.