Exclusive Video: Off-Duty San Francisco Ballet Dancers Perform in Sneakers | The_ONES
Ballet Break x The_ONES
Meet Solomon Golding, Dores André, and Myles Thatcher—three powerhouse dancers from San Francisco Ballet. At times, they are dancing the pas de deux in classics like Sleeping Beauty and Frankenstein. At others, they’re premiering contemporary works by innovative choreographers from around the world. They’re used to blinding lights. Curtain calls. Applause. They are at home on the stage, expressing themselves with their movements, telling stories in ways that words cannot achieve.
And here at The_ONES, we love nothing more than a good story. So we asked the three dancers to trade in their pointe shoes and ballet slippers for classic sneakers—and the stage for something sweet, simple, and rife with nostalgia: a good old-fashioned playground.
While Solomon, Dores, and Myles all hail from different corners of the world—England, Spain, and Atlanta, Georgia, respectively—when they come together, it’s as though time, geography, and language barriers cease to exist. We spent a day with the three dancers, filming them move, laugh, play, improvise, and choreograph a group piece together. Dancing to nothing but the sound of school kids kicking around a ball at recess, the off-duty dancers created nothing less than pure magic.
And while the life of a full-time dancer can be as brutal as it is beautiful (no less than eight hours a day, six days a week!), the three manage to find time to be outspoken activists for social justice, LGBTQ issues, and women’s rights. Not to mention international tours, grad school, and choreography fellowships—all while dressed to the nines. Talk to them about why they love dance and you’ll come to understand that there’s more to ballet than what immediately meets the eye. Dance is a platform that lets them shine a light on the social issues they believe in. And it is a place where the things that always made them different can finally be celebrated.
Occupation: Dancer at San Francisco Ballet
Hometown: London, England
Tell us about your background!
I've been dancing professionally since 2012, graduating to the Hong Kong Ballet after studying for eight years at The Royal Ballet School in London. I danced with the Hong Kong Ballet for one season, then moved back to London to join The Royal Ballet Company, which I danced with for a further four years until I decided to leave and join San Francisco Ballet last year.
How does dance help you express yourself?
Dance for me is the best form of self expression. I danced before I could speak. It’s a form of communication that transcends barriers of language and ability.
What is dancing to you, above and beyond doing the steps?
Dance is a tool of protest. It allows me to exist in spaces that weren't traditionally created for marginalized individuals like myself. Being black, gay, and British makes me an anomaly in mainstream society. Dance lets me say who I am without labels and without words. I can't tell you, but I can show you.
Aside from wearing the best outfits we’ve maybe ever seen, what do you do when you’re not dancing?
I try to use my art form of dance to collaborate with artists who have a social message, to create art that is relevant today. My brother and I recently made an art film called CHAINMAIL about how black men are viewed in society.
Occupation: Principal Dancer at San Francisco Ballet
Hometown: Vigo, Spain
How long have you been dancing?
In one way or another, I’ve been dancing since birth. But professionally, officially 15 years. I joined San Francisco Ballet when I was just 19.
Having danced for so long, what would you say it means to you?
Dance is my favorite form of communication. It helps me understand things and myself in ways that cannot be expressed with words. It's a way to expand self-awareness. Dancing requires you to be present and to stay curious, and that's what I want to be as a human.
How has it shaped who you are as an adult?
I tend to be dogmatic. Dance has taught me not only how to be wrong, but to be excited about it. Because being wrong is a door to the unknown and the unknown is always exciting.
How does dance fit into your activism?
I want to live in a world where gender, race, status, and social class don't exist. Art is disruptive of those status quos, so just the act of dedicating my life to art is already a political statement. Even when I’m not dancing, I’m always staying curious, keeping engaged in the community, and most importantly, always learning new skills. Right now I’m also in grad school for design.
“Dance has taught me not only how to be wrong, but to be excited about it. Because being wrong is a door to the unknown and the unknown is always exciting.”
Occupation: Dancer and Choreographer at San Francisco Ballet
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
When did you first get into dance?
I started dancing when I was eight, and trained in Pennsylvania, Florida, NYC, and SF. This is my ninth season dancing professionally with San Francisco Ballet, and I’ve also just completed choreographing my third major work for the company, as well as created works nationally.
Would you say dance shaped you as a person?
Growing up, I never ticked all the typical masculine boxes. Dancing has been an outlet that not only lets me cultivate who I am, but celebrate the things that make me different.
How does it help you express yourself?
I love how dance surpasses language. We all experience living in our bodies, but there are some actions—a sharp inhale, a turn of the head—that can speak more clearly than any words. There are things that I can express with movement that completely circumnavigate language, and that’s why dance speaks on a universal level.
You’re the youngest choreographer at SF Ballet. Has choreography opened any doors for you?
Dance is my first love but being a choreographer allows me to challenge the traditional gender roles I see in ballet. And the more we represent different identities on stage, the more people we’ll be able to reach. When I choreograph, it’s important for me to question how the historical gender binaries have informed ballet, and most importantly, how we can break these constructs down.
“The more we represent different identities on stage, the more people we’ll be able to reach.”
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