Ratmansky's New Protégé

May 22, 2014

Mentors are invaluable in dance: The right guide can help a young dancer or choreographer discover aspects of their artistry they’d never even considered. Twenty-three-year-old San Francisco Ballet corps member and rising choreographer Myles Thatcher has just won the mentorship of a lifetime: Choreographer Alexei Ratmansky selected him to be his protégé through the 2014-2015 Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. Thatcher spoke to Dance Magazine about what this opportunity means to him.

How were you chosen for this?

I’d been nominated anonymously. Then I was chosen as a finalist and flew to Paris for, like, one day and 22 hours just to have a chat with Ratmansky.


Had you worked with him before?

I’d been second cast for his ballet From Foreign Lands that he set here last year. I wasn’t directly working with him, but I was in the room and saw how he worked.


What do you admire in his choreography?

He works really well with subtleties, the quiet moments of his are the best. He knows how to speak through ballet. It’s human and honest and simple in the best way. I also like that his movement starts right at the root of classical ballet. He’s constantly referencing things from the past and doing something fresh with them. But always with a definitive heart to it.


How would you describe your own choreography?

It’s hard to say, since it’s just what comes out of me. But I put a lot of value in dynamic in the movement—to me, how the step is done is more important than the step itself. And I’m often focused on the bigger picture: the composition of the stage and how it flows.


What will the mentorship include?

I think I’ll be shadowing him through a few of his new productions. I’m interested in seeing his work in the studio and how he prepares for that—he puts a lot of thought into the choreography before he starts working with the dancers. I’m also hoping to send him some of my own work and get his perspective. I have a new ballet in the SFB season. It’s my first 30-minute work on my peers! When we spoke in Paris, one of first things he said was that he wouldn’t want to be someone telling me what to do, but that our relationship should be more of an exploration of ideas and things to think about. That was really exciting to me.


What was your reaction when you found out he chose you?

I was walking to work, and I had my own little freakout moment of excitement on the sidewalk.