Alumni Spotlight:
Myles Thatcher

Catch up with SF Ballet Corps de Ballet Dancer and SF Ballet School Alum Myles Thatcher as he talks about choreographing and his newest work for the SF Ballet School Trainees, Panorama.

Myles Thatcher and San Francisco Ballet School Trainees rehearse Thatcher's Panorama // © Erik Tomasson

How does being a choreographer affect you as a dancer?

Choreographing allows me to look at dance differently. I’ve learned a lot about the intention of movement. New material comes up all of the time in my dancing and gives me more substance and input to work when I’m choreographing. Finding balance between the two [dancer and choreographer] is difficult, but they balance each other.

What/who has been your biggest inspiration as a choreographer?

Non dance related experiences really inspire me. Ballet dancers often feel that they have to be sequestered to the art form; on the contrary, seeking out enriching life experiences really bring depth to my dancing and choreography.

We are so lucky at SFB to have so many outside choreographers to work with during our rep season. Yuri Possokov has such a unique way of moving with sensations that I can’t help but fold into the fabric of my influence. Bill Forsythe makes a point of focusing on the process of working with dancers and enriching them through his process; he brings a positive and empowering energy in the face of an often critical artform.

What was your process for creating Panorama?

I like to consider the dancers that I am creating on and respond to that particular group. I had time to get to know the dancers in SF Ballet School at a time when they are at a point in which they’re trying to get to know who they are themselves as dancers.

In my choreography, I like to explore moving groups as a theme and play with constructing and tear apart community within the group.

How was your experience working with the Trainees? How did it differ from setting a piece on Company dancers?

I really enjoy working with the Trainees. I didn’t have an opportunity to work with them last year, and I missed it a lot. When I work with the Trainees, I have less time constraints than in the company setting and more time to work on the craft. Because I am able to work with them for a longer period, there is more time to create or ‘play’. Trainees are eager, and there is an opportunity to shape and discover who they are as dancers. There is so much growth that happens within a year, and this platform gives them [the Trainees] a chance to shine. Working with them enables me to better articulate my vision.

How do you know that you achieved what you set out to in your choreography?

First I identify what I want to achieve; if I feel like I achieved that, whether it be the atmosphere or simply making the dancers look great, then it doesn’t matter what critics think. The hardest thing to do is to shut out feedback from other people, but sometimes it is the most important. With dance, I appreciate that you don’t need a practical end as you might in some other art forms.