Thomas Ralabate

Thomas Ralabate.

Thomas Ralabate

Thomas Ralabate

Artistic Director Zodiaque Dance Company

Research Topics

Jazz; Tap; Ballroom/Social Dance

Contact Information


·      BA, Canisius College

·      MFA equivalent - Professional Credentials (NYC)



Thomas P. Ralabate is Professor and past Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at University at Buffalo/SUNY. He has served in the past as Assistant Chair Dance, Director of Dance, and Artistic Director of UB’s Zodiaque Dance Company. Ralabate has taught for all major dance organizations throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. A former United States and North American Latin Ballroom Dance Champion, he was the American representative with his sister Kip Ralabate, to the World Latin Dance Championships. His main research interests include the rich multicultural, multiethnic traditions and histories that inform American Jazz dance. Ralabate was the first recipient of the College of Arts and Sciences Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Area of Arts at University at Buffalo (2001), and received a 2006 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Scholarship and Creative Activities. In 2016, he was awarded the College of Arts and Sciences Julian Park Award, for meritorious and notable contributions to the College and University.

Ralabate’s choreography has been featured at the National Dance Theatre of Bermuda; Joffrey Midwest Ballet; other university programs; the state televised Miss New York and Miss Pennsylvania Scholarship Pageants for the Miss America Scholarship Competition; and Zodiaque Dance Company. He is currently the National Chair of Education Strategy for Dance Masters of America Inc. (DMA), and has contributed to revisions of both DMA’s Jazz Exam and Jazz Dance Manual. In addition, Ralabate has created jazz dance syllabi for Chicago National Association of Dance Masters (CNADM), Dance Teachers’ Club of Boston, and INTERDANZA, Mexico.

Honored for his contributions to dance by raising national dance standards, Professor Ralabate is the third recipient of the prestigious Ivy Hall Foundation Award (1996), first awarded to Gene Kelly and presented by Dance Masters of America. As the founder of DMA’s Student Honors Intensive Program (SHIP) in 2003, DMA established an educational scholarship in the name of Thomas Ralabate. Other DMA awards include: DMA Distinguished Educators Award (2003), DMA Member of the Year (2009), and DMA President’s Award (2016). Other professional awards include:  Artistic Achievement Award (1993), and the Adele Artinean Award (1998), presented by CNADM; twice awarded the Jazz Dance World Congress Angel Award (1999 and 2000); the Buffalo Ambassador Award (2000); the Individual Artist Award presented by the Arts Council of Western NY and the greater Buffalo and Niagara Partnership (2005). In 2007, Ralabate was honored in New York City, by Dance Teacher Magazine at their annual summer conference, for distinguishing himself as an outstanding educator in higher education and advocate for dance. In 2013, the Dance Teachers’ Club of Boston and the American Society honored him with the Honorary Lifetime Membership Award.

A past contributing writer for the Higher Ed Column in Dance Studio Life Magazine, dedicated to quality dance education, Ralabate was a consultant and contributor to Jazz Dance A History of the Roots and Branches (University Press 2014), edited by Lindsay Guarino and Wendy Oliver. Ralabate is honored to appear in the Pedro Brenner’s film documentary Gus an American Icon, based on the life of jazz dance legendary Gus Giordano. In the 2019, Ralabate was a selected interviewee for TRANSMISSION, a featured length documentary that aims to study Jazz dance and its challenges in depth, directed by award-winning Director Kahadifa Wong. 


Current Research

·       the rich multicultural, multiethnic traditions and histories that inform American jazz dance;

·       the relationship of jazz and other dance forms;

·       the comparative study of multiple jazz dance techniques, styles, and schools of thought;

·       the comparative socialization of jazz dance movement through vernacular time periods; and

·       the cross influences of jazz dance and music.

Designed the strategic plan, created philosophical intent, and developed jazz dance syllabi for the following professional dance teacher education and training programs:

·       Interdanza Jazz Dance Certification, Monterey, Mexico

·       Certified Master’s in Dance Direction, DMA (CMDD)

·       Graduate Master’s Program in Dance Education, (DMA)

·       Dance Masters of America Teachers’ Training School (TTS)

·       Dance Masters of America Student Honors Intensive Program (SHIP)

·       Dance Teachers’ Club of Boston (DTCB – DETC)

·       Chicago National Association of Dance Masters  (CNADM)