A Conversation with Myles Thatcher

Thatcher (left) rehearsing his world premiere with SFB

Move over, Justin Peck. This month, 24-year-old Myles Thatcher, corps member of San Francisco Ballet, joins the ever-growing ranks of ballet choreographer wunderkinds like New York City Ballet’s Peck, 27, and The Royal Ballet’s Liam Scarlett, 28. Thatcher presents his new ballet, Manifesto, for SFB, and expectations are high: After winning a coveted spot in the 2014 Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, he has had American Ballet Theatre artist in residence Alexei Ratmansky as his mentor for the past year.

Choreographic beginnings “I remember seeing The Nutcracker just after I’d started ballet. I was making connections: ‘Oh, the oboe does this, so a step could be this, while the other instrument does this.’ I clearly remember being really fascinated by the layers of music and how they can connect to dance. I’m a pattern-oriented person and have a more mathematical brain, and that’s alluring to me, too, how that correlates to music and composition and setting a stage.”

His process “I’ll prepare a few phrases with definitive motifs and shapes and themes. It’s nice to have something to set on the dancers when I come in, just to see how they move. And I’ll hopefully come in with the ballet structured in my head: ‘These eight counts of eight are dedicated for this.’ I’ll know what I want the shapes in my head to look like—I’ll say, ‘I want this step to be big and have a lift that carries over here.’ That’s when the most innovative and exciting things happen, when it’s all of us working together on the same task, and the dancers understand what I’m getting at.”

On working with his peers “When I first started working with professional dancers, I was hyperaware of what they were willing to do and what they were thinking. But I think I’m at a point now where I’m comfortable with my role up front. Of course I’m going to be nervous with a new group of dancers, but then you just have to forget about it, once you get in the groove. You’ll never do your best work if you’re worried what other people are thinking.”

Role models “I feel like I really understand Christopher Wheeldon’s movement and appreciate the craft of his work. I love dancing in any [William] Forsythe piece, because it’s such a physical challenge. It’s so classical but somehow still so fresh. We do a lot of Balanchine’s work [at SFB], and the girls are rehearsing Serenade right now. My mind is just blown. It’s one of the most perfect ballets—just the music and the decisions and the simplicity and the vocabulary and the corps work.” DT

Training: The HARID Conservatory, Ellison Ballet and San Francisco Ballet School

Performance: corps de ballet member, San Francisco Ballet, since 2010

Choreography: has created works for the SFB School Showcase; premieres his ballet Manifesto for SFB this month

Photo by Erik Tomasson, courtesy of SFB

Studio Owners
Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

The keys to profitable summer programming? Figuring out what type of structure will appeal most to your studio clientele, keeping start-up costs low—and, ideally, converting new summer students into new year-round students.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Diary
Claire, McAdams, courtesy Houston Ballet

Former Houston Ballet dancer Chun Wai Chan has always been destined for New York City Ballet.

While competing at Prix de Lausanne in 2010, he was offered summer program scholarships at both the School of American Ballet and Houston Ballet. However, because two of the competition's winners that year were Houston Ballet's Aaron Sharratt and Liao Xiang, dancers Chan idolized, he turned down SAB. He joined Houston Ballet II in 2010, the main company's corps de ballet in 2012, and was promoted to principal in 2017. Oozing confidence and technical prowess, Chan was a Houston favorite, and even landed himself a spot on Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch."

Keep reading... Show less
Mary Mallaney/USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, courtesy Osato

In most classes, dancers are encouraged to count the music, and dance with it—emphasizing accents and letting the rhythm of a song guide them.

But Marissa Osato likes to give her students an unexpected challenge: to resist hitting the beats.

In her contemporary class at EDGE Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles (which is now closed, until they find a new space), she would often play heavy trap music. She'd encourage her students to find the contrast by moving in slow, fluid, circular patterns, daring them to explore the unobvious interpretation of the steady rhythms.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.