About Us

Ames Dance Studio

About Robert Thomas Dancenter

Our Story

In the late Winter /Early Spring of 1978 , Robert and Miyoko traveled to Ames, Iowa from New York City in a recently purchased pre-owned sky- blue Opel station wagon. They traveled with their two cats, a monkey and most of their personal belongings. After three decades in dance, half of that as professional dancers working in touring companies, Robert and Miyoko were ready to retire to Robert’s hometown.

Their goal was to create a dance environment where young people could enjoy the experience of learning the technical skills, presentation, and performance of dance in a professional setting much like the one Robert and Miyoko had been working in.

The environment created was the Robert Thomas Dancenter. Although there are many pages of stories of our experiences and those of the dancers along the way, we have never varied form that goal. Robert Thomas Dancenter has trained over 10,000 Iowa dancers of all ages and has recently celebrated a 40-year anniversary.

Quality, Integrity, Leadership

Since 1978

Professional Instructors

Small Class Sizes

Affordable Pricing

12 Month Payment Plans
Miyoko & Robert Thomas

Meet Our Directors

Miyoko Kato Thomas

Miyoko Kato Thomas received her extensive ballet training at the Tachibana Ballet School of Tokyo in her native Japan, subsequently joining the Asami Maki Ballet company. In 1964 she joined the Metropolitan Opera Ballet in New York City. A year later she signed with the Harkness Ballet Company and was promoted to the rank of Soloist in 1969. With the Harkness Ballet, Ms. Kato performed at the White House and toured Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and throughout the United States.

Ms. Kato joined the Joffrey Ballet in 1974. She has performed leading roles in works ranging from classical ballets such as Swan Lake, Coppelia, Giselle (Queen of the Willies), The Nutcracker, Don Quixote, Les Sylphides, Raymonda, Pas des Quatre, and The Firebird to modern ballets and jazz. She has worked with numerous choreographers including Antony Tudor, Jerome Robbins, Agnes DeMille, Alvin Ailey, Twyla Tharp, Robert Joffrey, Gerald Arpino, and Jack Cole. Among the highlights of her career was a performance for President Johnson at the White House in 1965. In 1966 Kato toured Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East under the sponsorship of the State Department.

Miyoko Kato Thomas has been married to Robert Thomas since 1971. Robert and Miyoko opened the Ames Dancenter in 1978. Robert and Miyoko own and operate the Robert Thomas Dancenters in Ames (2). In more than 40 years of dance instruction, Robert Thomas Dancenters have trained over 10,000 young dancers. Robert and Miyoko are producers of the award winning Dancenter Dancers. Currently, Robert is the Executive Director and Artistic director, and Miyoko is the Artistic Director, Emeritus of the Iowa Youth Ballet.

Robert Thomas

Robert Thomas, an Iowa native, studied dance in Iowa until 1964. The Summer of ’64 Robert received a dance scholarship to Ted Shawn’s Jacob’s Pillow in Lee, Mass. From the summer of 1964-1967, Robert retained a position in the highly competitive Harkness Ballet trainee program in New York City.

In 1967, Robert joined the Harkness Ballet of New York. With the Harkness Ballet, Robert toured the United States, Europe, and the Middle East. In 1969, Robert was offered a position with the Stuttgart Ballet, the National Ballet Contemporair, the Joffrey Ballet, the Geneva Ballet, and the second Harkness company. Accepting positions with the Joffrey Ballet, Robert performed in New York, throughout the United States, Europe and Russia. Robert Thomas has been guest artist with the Andre Eglevesky Ballet Co., Lar Lubovitch Dance Co., Jack Cole, and Stuart Hodes Ballet Close-Ups. Robert has performed in over 70 major works which include ballets by choreographers such as Ailey, Arpino, Balanchine, Boris, Cole, Cranko, Folkine, Harkarvey, Hodes, Joffrey, Lubovitch, Massing, Neumeier, Petipa, Rivera, Saddles, Sappington, Severs, Van Dancing, Walker, and Willed. Robert has appeared in a variety of media from opera and stage to television. From 1984-1986 Robert Thomas was assistant Ballet Master to the Joffrey Ballet.

In 1981, Robert and Miyoko assisted in the creation of the Iowa State Center’s Nutcracker. They have served as artistic directors each year.