In preparation for National Ballet of Canada’s School Assemblée International 2013, the San Francisco Ballet School Trainees are creating a piece by Myles Thatcher, a corps de ballet member of the Company and former Trainee.
This is my second year in the Trainee Program; I joined the San Francisco Ballet School in 2009. As a level seven student, I remember watching the Trainees as they prepared for the Assemblée in awe, hoping that one day I too could be selected for the prestigious group of Trainees. After two years, my hopes became reality!
During my first year in the Trainee Program, Myles created a piece crafted to each Trainee. His piece, Spinae, focused on the use of the human spine and how we could use them as inhumanly as possible, while still maintaining our ballet technique and dance quality.
At first, working with Myles was a real challenge. His movement required so much athleticism and ways of dancing that I’ve never explored before. He often uses the phrase “ugly-pretty,” which he uses to encourage us to explore deeper and push further, without being afraid of looking bad. He’s a very hands-on choreographer, which makes the process of developing his piece beneficial for the dancers, as well. Myles was also intrigued about each of our dancing individually, so we spent many days doing improv and completing tasks that he assigned to us, such as creating lifts including specific feelings or movement. This process was incredibly demanding, but rewarding all the same.
Some days we would work on a phrase until it was like a routine, then discard it the next. Some of the choreography has stayed the same since day one, while other parts were new even until the final performance. We started Spinae in September 2011, and performed it throughout the year in Trainee Shows, Student Showcase 2012, Stern Grove 2012, and at the New National Theater in Tokyo this summer. From beginning to end, we transformed the piece and established it further and further. I can proudly say that all of us grew immensely as dancers from this experience.
We are very fortunate to be working with Myles for yet another year! I am truly excited to see how this year’s piece will unravel, as well as how I’ll be able to add another dimension to my dance. So far, we’re in the very beginning stages of putting the piece together. This year, I feel much more prepared to dive into Myles’ work without fear. I’m more familiar with his wants and how to also incorporate a little but of myself into his demands.
With Nutcracker right around the corner, time is of the essence in order to complete the piece. We’ll definitely be working every spare moment to wrap up this year’s piece for the Assemblée!