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RIP Richard Thomas

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Richard Thomas passed away today. Many studied with him at the New York School of Ballet, a school in NYC which he owned and ran with his wife, Barbara Fallis. He had danced with a number of companies, including the NYC ballet, ABT, the Ballet Russe as well as the Alonzo company in Cuba.

His wit, intelligence and ability to describe the mechanics of ballet technique, along with the art and musicality of ballet were truly amazing. Anyone who took his class has their favorite "Dick Thomas story." He and his wife had great impact on their students whether they were professional dancers or people studying for their own enrichment. All good students were taken seriously. They taught their students about ballet, music, art and how to approach work - no matter what that work was. May he rest in peace.

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even those who didn't take Dickie Thomas's classes doubtless have fave stories.

i rem. coming to a performance of one of the programs put on by his U.S. Terpsichore with Edward Gorey, who'd done so graphics for UST gratis, as he admired the plucky troupe, and Mr. T. greeted us in the lobby but excused himself soon, as he needed to go back to do some work on the group's very fine staging of LES SYLPHIDES, put into the rep. by the much, and rightly admired and revered Miss Fallis. Said Mr. T as she dashed off: "Now I have to go and try to make some lace out of that barbed wire."

Sean Lavery danced for Mr. T's group(s) as Owen before going to Germany, if mem. serves, all before returning in fine form to join NYCB and make quite a name for himself.

he was especially close to Eliot Feld in the early days of his career as both choreographer and company director.

and the stories go on, and on...

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I took his class as an amateur (I was in law school at the time). I will remember his wry sense of humor and his excellent corrections and interest in me, even though it was clear I was not going to be a dancer. May he rest in peace. My condolences to his family.

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f.y.i. from a NYC press office:



RICHARD THOMAS, prominent ballet teacher, passed away July 27 in Kentucky. Born December 3, 1925, Thomas was a dancer with New York City Ballet and owned the New York School of Ballet, where he and his late wife Barbara Fallis trained many prominent dancers.

Three of his former students, Eliot Feld, Christine Sarry, and Daniel Levans, placed the following obituary in The New York Times:

Richard Thomas, known affectionately as Dick, master ballet teacher, mentor, willful iconoclast, sublimely human and adored by umpteen generations of dancers, is said to have died on Saturday morning July 27. For those of us who knew him, who were privileged to brush against his vital and provocative nature, he lives on! The ripples from his kindness, wisdom, sensibility and wit endure. So too, his divine lickety-split petit allegros, even his excesses, which were excessive, his passion for dancing and dancers, and his knowledge of ballet technique combined with this intellect and his gift for cajolery to impart the lesson to we who were eager, so eager. He lives forever within us. He has become a part of who we are. Indelible. It seems only appropriate that Dick should have the last word, as was his wont and dessert deserved. Accordingly: in ballet class, half a century plus ago, though it seems like yesterday, at the conclusion of the Grand Allegro, he opined to the class and to the Gods if they would only listen and learn - "the cow jumped over the moon but he was still a cow".

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thanks to Mme. H for posting this heartfelt tribute and to David Coll for compiling it.

for those who might not know him, Coll can be seen in one of the shots in the NY School studio with Eliot Feld, DC is the curly haired fellow in the white cable-knit sweater.

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Thank you all for the lovely tribute. I loved his classes- especially his barre combinations that were tricky- you really had to think. He had beautiful feet and a high extension. Would demonstrate just about every combination- he made it look easy. His one-liners were hilarious. One time in class, I was at the bottom of a grande plié( in first position) walked right next to me and said " Well how ya dooooin. I think he was trying to stop me from being so serious and intense. He was one of a kind.

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Richard Thomas and Barbara Fallis were my teachers for four wonderful years--1966/67 -1970-71. I was there almost from the beginning of the school on W 56th St. Funny--they almost never called me by name-- I was called "little one". ( I was little and I was young).

I do remember Mr. Thomas having a high, very straight extension...but he disliked seeing extreme, exaggerated extensions from us in class. He would do hilarious imitations of high, crotch-revealing developpé to make his point. And I loved the petit allegro---always en dedans and en dehors. You had to think fast in his classes. Great Cecchetti foundation for young dancers. Miss Fallis would give pointe class without pointe shoes. She had amazing feet.....

And so glad that somebody else remembers Sean Lavery as Owen-- he was a young boy in class then........

There were usually some excellent professional dancers in the class, too---not only the Feld dancers, but Joffrey, NYCB, etc. so it was always an interesting studio....................

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