Tom Ralabate Recaptured as Luigi
“To dance, put your hand on your heart and listen to the sound of your soul.”
-Eugene Louis Faccuito
As a professional dancer in California, Luigi was in a serious car accident. It left one side of him paralyzed and with double vision. Doctors didn’t think he would recover, but Luigi was determined. During his recovery, he went back to the studio and began doing work at the bar. When he tried center work, he wasn’t able to find his stability. Luigi decided to take the bar to the center. He used an imaginary bar to push against, and found himself staying upright. From this came “pushing down to go up”, pushing down with your arms on the space around you, and lifting up from the crown of your head. He was able to train his body and went back to dancing. During down time on film sets, Luigi did his own exercises to make sure his body remained limber and strong. Other dancers on set would follow him and his exercises. Luigi started teaching jazz classes and shared his methods of training. The exercise routine he created for his own rehabilitation, became the world’s first complete technique for learning jazz dance.
Tom Ralabate Honoring Luigi
“It was the movement vocabulary and Luigi’s philosophy about the connection of life and dance that spoke to me. I was fortunate to be in class with Luigi when he first introduced Lurhythmics and was still making discoveries with his established school of thought and style (warm-ups, lyrical port de bras and combinations). I strongly feel that Luigi left to the dance world a vocabulary of movement worthy of study. The class structure he created and redefined over many decades paved a way for other educators to model and create meaningful hybrids that honor his life’s time of work and the rich tradition of classic jazz dance. I consider Luigi a dance treasure.”
Professor of Jazz, Tap, and Social Dance at The State University of New York at Buffalo