Bachtrack is asking the same six questions to many choreographers. Here’s what Myles Thatcher had to say.

Myles Thatcher © Reto Albertalli courtesy of Rolex
Myles Thatcher
© Reto Albertalli courtesy of Rolex

1. What influences are important to you and your choreography?

I can’t help but have my personal experiences projected and communicated into my choreography. Whether it's an intentional decision or something I discover after the fact, I'm finding it's an important element in my work. This helps to keep the work honest and accessible on a human level. I also find inspiration from any work I see, any ballets that I dance, and even art in different mediums.

2. What (if anything) do you want audiences to take away from your choreography?

I’ll usually have a specific intention behind an abstract work. I don't necessarily expect the audience to define exactly what I am trying to say, but I do hope they can somehow resonate with the feeling and atmosphere the ballet creates. It’s important to me that people can connect to my choreography in some way, whether it's physically, emotionally or intellectually. I personally feel that ballet is an art form that has capabilities to be extremely powerful rather than plainly just pretty. I hope that idea is present in my work.

Myles Thatcher © Quinn Wharton
Myles Thatcher
© Quinn Wharton

3. Is there a piece of your choreography that you are most satisfied with? Why?

Each ballet I create feels like a building block to the next work so I find they are each valuable to me in a very different way. I’ll try and give myself a specific personal challenge with each new work and hopefully be able to apply what I learn to the next piece I choreograph. I believe my satisfaction is based more on the growth of my dancers and myself during process rather than the success of the final performance.

4. How important to your choreography is your relationship with the dancers who perform it?

I feel my relationship with the dancers is the most interesting, challenging, and rewarding part of my job. No matter how much I prepare in advance, I must make sure to keep an open mind in the studio for new and exciting things to manifest. Creating a space where this discovery is encouraged and utilized is very important to me. There are so many opportunities for growth during the creation process for both myself and the dancers, and I am constantly learning about this art form from them. When it comes down to it, I have to give the piece to my dancers and trust they will give it the energy that it needs during the performances. I find that the only way for audiences to truly understand my vision is to be open and honest with the dancers so they can fully communicate the ballet's intent in its purest form.

Myles Thatcher in Wheeldon's <i>Ghosts</i> © Erik Tomasson
Myles Thatcher in Wheeldon's Ghosts
© Erik Tomasson

5. When you’re creating a new piece, how and where do you begin? What do you enjoy most about the process?

Generally, I will start the process with my music or my conceptual idea of the work. From there, I will try to more clearly define the atmosphere I want to convey in order to develop some themes in the movement as well as overall structure. Once I get in the studio with my dancers, it’s important for me to keep an open mind to new ideas that the work with the dancers will bring. I truly enjoy when this work in the studio challenges my preconceived plans for the ballet, especially when I am surprised by a totally unexpected result.

6. How is making dance works changing? Where do you hope choreography will go in future?

I think many artists are discovering new ways to choreograph that have a more improvisational and collaborative approach. This challenges the traditional model of choreography by capitalizing on the dancers' intelligence, rather than using dancers solely as pawns. This creative exchange challenges dancers and choreographers to use their brains in a new way. I think choreographers' biggest challenge is to make this art form more accessible to the everyday audience and relevant in today's society. I hope this involves rethinking new ways ballet can be seen by the public, but more importantly keeping humanity in the art form that everyone, especially the untrained eye, can resonate with.

 

 

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Myles Thatcher trained at The Harid Conservatory, Ellison Ballet, and San Francisco Ballet School prior to being named as an apprentice in 2009.  He joined San Francisco Ballet in 2010 and has performed featured roles in a variety of works, including   Tomasson’s Giselle and Nutcracker, as well as Balanchine’s Symphony in C. His repertory also includes works by Michel Fokine, William Forsythe, John Neumeier, Yuri Possokhov, Jerome Robbins, Christopher Wheeldon, and Renato Zanella.