Don’t you hate when someone around you is having a bad day and before you know it your good vibes have been squashed? You did nothing wrong to this person but they treat your poorly because of their previous situation and now that negative energy has now been rubbed off onto you. Or have you ever walked into a job interview and the culture there is so positive that you can’t help but walk out with a happy feeling?
We are often a by-product of the people that surround us and this subconsciously happens through an unseen and ghost-like stream of energy. Myles Thatcher’s World Premiere of Ghost in the Machine portrays this energetical chain reaction through a series of dances and I was lucky enough to grab him for an interview before his next performance. Scroll below to find out more about Myles and his inspiration behind this modern-day masterpiece.
When did you first start dancing?
I started dancing when I was 8 when I was auditioning for a musical play at my school. After the audition, the teacher put her hand on my head and said, “Who does this kid belong to?? He has talent! Go put him in dance class.” So my mom signed me up and as time went on, I started to really fall in love with it. By thirteen, I knew I wanted to pursue it as a career.
When did you start choreographing and who gave you your first opportunity to showcase your own work?
Many times after dance class, a friend and I would stay and come up with our own dances. I always loved exploring new ideas and seeing what came from it. When I was in the SF Ballet’s training program, they had a choreography workshop and Helgi Tomasson (SF Ballet’s Artistic Director/Principal Choreographer) saw something in me. Ever since then he has been a great mentor and he gave me my first opportunity to premiere my own work at SF Ballet’s Gala in 2013.
How do you capture your ideas and create a new choreography?
I write some of my thoughts into a notebook but the overall visions of what I want is in my head. One of the first things I do is learn the ins and outs of the music I select and think about how I want to structure my work around it. Then I meet with the dancers in the studio and this is where the fun begins! You can only prepare so much beforehand because everything mostly happens in real-time with the dancers. I love working with the dancers here at SF Ballet because they are so open and willing to try new things with me. That’s not the case and I am grateful and humbled to work with them.
Why did you name it Ghost in the Machine?
After I created the piece I decided to name it after a book I read called Ghost in the Machine by Arthur Koestler. This philosophical book is about how an individual’s action can alter the energy of another person or the overall dynamic of a larger group. Like a ghost, you can’t see this chain reaction but the transformation is apparent in the outcome. I think it’s so important to realize that an individual has the power stop a chain reaction of negativity and start and transformation of love. Through a series of dances, I wanted to show how this ghost-like effect (both negative and positive) can happen in relationships, communities and within an individual.
How long did it take to create this work with the dancers?
We started working on it in September of 2016 for about 3 weeks and then we didn’t touch it again until 2 weeks before the premiere. I like this method because we get a bulk of it done up front, step away from it and then revisit it with a fresh approach. What’s difficult about a premiere is that it doesn’t all come together until it’s revealed to the public. The ballet was just finalized the morning of the performance! But the piece will continue to evolve and I love that.
What is your favorite subtlety that the audience should look out for?
When the two characters sit on the edge of the stage next to the walls, the dancing that’s happening with the group at center stage symbolizes the wedge in whatever is distancing them in their relationship. It’s unexpected and I think it came together nicely. There a lot of small vignettes like that for people can find. My goal as a choreographer is to create a ballet that you want to go and see again and that you’ll find new things that resonate with.
What piece of advice would you give to someone that is pursuing a career as a choreographer?
Stay humble and respectful. The more integrity you have in your process the more integrity your art will have. And the hardest piece of advice is to be true to yourself and listen to your intuition.
What show are you watching right now?
I just finished Big Little Lies and I loved it!
Where is your favorite place to go dancing for fun?
There’s this place in the Mission called Amnesia and they have a gypsy jazz night and a swing dancing night. It’s so much fun!
What’s your favorite thing to do outside of being amazing at the SF Ballet?
I like making cocktails with friends and I like doing fun costume makeup. Check it out on my Instagram!
What’s the last song that was stuck that in your head?
Other than Swan Lake? I would say anything by Robyn!
What is the top thing to do on your Bucket List right now?
I really want to see Aurora Borealis in Northern Canada or Alaska. That’s like a major life goal.
What is your favorite thing to do after a performance?
Drink a beer!
If you could have lunch with someone from the past, present or future, who would it be with?
Jane Goodall, Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Forsythe and Chrystal Pite
What is your favorite color to paint your nails?
Silver to black ombre or solid gold glitter!
Where is your favorite place to shop?
Spectre and Co., Sean’s and fun consignment stores.
Who is your favorite celebrity dancer?
Wendy Whelan for live performances and Debbie Reynolds from the movies.