San Francisco, CA

Choreographer Myles Thatcher Sees the Beauty in San Francisco Ballet's 2021 Digital Season

Kristyn Burtt

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Photo credit: Neil Gandhi.

Even with the performing arts world affected by the pandemic, San Francisco Ballet has moved forward with unique and groundbreaking programs for their audience to enjoy. The second wave in their 2021 Digital Season, running Feb. 11 through March 3, features a homegrown talent helming a world premiere piece. San Francisco Ballet soloist Myles Thatcher is continuing to hone his choreographic voice in the digital film "Colorforms." He's in great company with Dwight Rhoden and Mark Morris, who are the other choreographers showcasing their work as a part of the company's program.

Thatcher spoke with News Break about his premiere work and how he hopes ballet audiences will embrace the digital works because it brings new opportunities for choreographers and dancers to share their art on a global level.

Watch the full video interview with Myles Thatcher:

What was the biggest surprise for you in creating a brand new work for the camera compared to the stage?

I think finding these opportunities had nothing to do with the dancing moments and the steps, but they were responding to the space that we were in. We were in really ethically beautiful spots, and we had to make sure that we can tell a story, not only for dance, but for film. We had these very specific non-dancing moments that I think are special and beautiful, so that was something really fun to explore with my director, and I trusted him to find those moments, too. It was a lot of new opportunities to story-tell.

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"Colorforms" Photo courtesy of Myles Thatcher.

Does creating "Colorforms" inspire you to look for more on-camera opportunities to showcase your work?

I think dance on film is a well-studied art form, but I think it's less common within the structure of ballet companies because our bread and butter are theater performances. I think the demand for the space is harder for classical technique. If women are on pointe shoes, we need a specific floor to dance on and specific conditions, where I think that other dance forms can be slightly more flexible.

I think it's a great opportunity to show off San Francisco Ballet and the beauty of the company. This is my home company, I've been here for 12 years and I know everybody back and front. I know everybody's strengths, and I love this place — that's why I'm still here. I felt this was a great opportunity to share the things I find beautiful about this company with people who might not be in San Francisco. The opportunity was exciting for me, and I also felt a lot of pressure to do everybody justice. In seeing the final product, though, I feel like everybody looks awesome, so I feel happy about it.

Nothing will ever replace live theater, but do you think San Francisco Ballet will embrace doing digital works moving forward after the pandemic is over?

I have no idea. I think everybody is really happy with the products that we've made, and I'm working alongside a few talented choreographers who are making very specific projects for film. I think this is something that the ballet world has been thinking about slowly, and this is giving us an impetus to kick-start these projects. We've been doing some video trailers for theater works that have proven to get more butts in the seats, so I think it's a great opportunity for us to rethink how we are sharing our art with folks. I hope that we keep investing in works like this because I think they engage us differently, and I think there's a lot to be explored within the ballet sphere.

For more information on San Francisco Ballet's 2021 Digital Season, visit their website.

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Kristyn Burtt is a commercial dance journalist, TV host and producer. She was the West Coast correspondent and host of "To the Pointe" on Dance Network for five years. Her coverage of "So You Think You Can Dance," "Dancing With the Stars" and "World of Dance" is popular with dance fans across the globe. Kristyn's love of dance began early in her life. She trained at the Boston Ballet School, danced with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre in "The Nutcracker" and won a dance scholarship to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. She currently serves on the American Dance Movement’s Marketing & PR Committee and is a member of the Television Academy and SAG-AFTRA.

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