Once a shy guy, today Thiago has made dancing his life and he does not shy away from expressing who he is. This week Puma Brazil launches the first sneaker in the Rider family, the Puma Style Rider Ride On. A silhouette inspired by the 80s classic Fast Rider, a sneaker that set the transition from those who ran on tracks to those who began to run on the streets. Kickstory will present this model through the story of 4 creative individuals who express themselves through their work. The first one up was Thiago – he told us about how he changed his life completely because of dancing, and how he applied the same mentality he had for dancing, in everything he did in his life, and how essential is to be wearing something that’s comfortable when doing his moves, but still looking fresh.
This interview is part of the #NoFilter campaign, where the new PUMA Rider shows life as it is, and colors how they really are.
“My name is Thiago Miyamura, I’m 22, I am a dancer and choreographer here in São Paulo and I’m a Pisces (laughs). A while back I started Innovations Engineering College, but I didn’t finish it. Then, I did Public Relations for a year and a half and left. But now I live off of dancing, working with dance, art, and choreography.”
How and when did your interest for dance begin?
When I was a kid, I didn’t like to dance. I was too shy, and didn’t even like to have photos taken of me. And until I was 12 or 13, I wouldn’t dance on debutant parties or weddings. I used to say I didn’t like doing it, but the truth is I was too shy. I would always watch movies related to dance, like High School Musical, Step Up, Camp Rock… I liked them a lot.
I had a group of friends, and one of them became part of a dance group. One day, we were together in the countryside with the guys and they started practicing a step called Wave – which is the idea of making waves with arms and body. I saw them training and said “I’d like to learn this step, but just this one”. They started teaching me, explaining step by step, just the technique. I liked learning it and wanted to know more to get better, and started practicing just this one step. And they told me “you’re dedicated, and you’re enjoying it! Why don’t you come to see our practice?”. In the beginning, I told them no, because I didn’t like dancing. But one day, they did an open practice, invited everyone to meet the group and see how dance and practice worked. All of my friends went, so I went with them. It was an hour open practice, we all practiced together, and laughed more than danced, you know? Because friends that never danced just mess around. I really enjoyed it and they said that whoever wanted to come next time, it would also be opened practice. But on the next one, no one else came, just me.
Since I’ve done a lot of sports before joining dance – such as athletics, table tennis, tennis, kung-fu, swimming, volleyball, soccer – my coordination really helped with dancing. And then, it was kind of easy to follow the steps. Since I had the coordination, it was really easier to go right, go left, do the right arm. So, I said that “I had a gift”. A “gift” in quotes, because had been practicing this gift for a while. I began to practice more, and attend the group, and I thought “wow, I like it”. And so it took off.
After 3 months practicing, I was performing some small parts with the group. And, with time, I got better. I spent 4 years in this group, then I started having regular classes in a studio, at Westside. There, I began taking classes to study, for real, with teachers teaching me the foundation, technique, names, and fundamentals of dancing. Because the group didn’t have this, it was more informal. And after I joined the studio, I started studying and having more focus, taking regular classes. And after, of taking so many classes as a hobby – I never really imagined working with dance – slowly, opportunities started to show up.
The first video clip I did in my life was Gloria Groove’s, it wasn’t even a paid gig, because I didn’t even want to work with dance, I kind of only went to check it out and to have the experience. And Gloria was just starting too, she didn’t have a budget, she was doing it out of friendship with everyone. After this video, it was really cool, many other opportunities showed up, other clips, and now I was getting paid. I started learning more, started to substitute some teachers in some classes here in São Paulo. And so it went, you know? Clips, classes, workshops, choreographies, contracts to choreograph artists, shows, advertisements, started to show up. Dancing helped me a lot and helped me not only with my personality but with other stuff other than dancing.
SO LATELY, I WENT TO CHILE, IT WAS MY FIRST INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOP, MY FIRST TRIP ABROAD FOR WORK – AND I WOULD NEVER HAVE IMAGINED I WOULD DO IT THROUGH DANCING, NEVER THOUGHT I’D WORK WITH THAT. BUT I INTEND TO TRAVEL THE WORLD WITH DANCING, ALWAYS GIVING WORKSHOPS OR EVEN FOR VACATION, AS LONG AS I CAN SUSTAIN IT WITH DANCE.
You gave classes and workshops in Chile, Rio de Janeiro, and here in São Paulo, too. Where did dance take you?
I’m still in the beginning of my career. And, unfortunately in Brazil we have to work to pay our bills, to make a living, and we don’t start working when we are in a good level. We start working when we get a job. There was a time when I would work a lot, I would give 18 dance classes a week, and it consumed me a lot; good money came in, but my studies wouldn’t move forward. After some time, I started giving workshops, other jobs besides regular classes, I started to focus on studying. So nowadays I work less in a matter of hours, but I make a living just the same.
And so I can focus more on my studies, and doing so, I can evolve my dancing, and by evolving my dancing, I can reach the places I want to go. So latetly, I went to Chile, it was my first international workshop, my first trip abroad for work – and I would never have imagined I would do it through dancing, never thought I’d work with that. But I intend to travel the world with dancing, always giving workshops or even for vacation, as long as I can sustain it with dance. My biggest dream is to see many different countries, and even better if I can do it by dancing. Because we get to meet other dancers, other cultures, other ways of thinking, and this sums a lot for us, as dancers and as people as well. I never imagined it, but now I’m on the right path.
How do you express your individuality through dancing?
This is a tough question. This is actually a question every dancer that’s going through that “just begun but been doing it for a while” phase asks. This is what every dancer looks for – my identity, my originality. But it is hard to explain because normally we compare each other a lot, we always want to be our inspiration, our reference. And the truth is that we’ll never be the same. What we say to many dancers is that you’ll never be the same a the other. You can do the same step, but just for the fact that it was you who did it, that step will be different. And what we tell dancers is to believe themselves. To invest in their studies, in their dance, on the fundamental basis, on their stories, and when you do a step, if you’re not thinking of copying someone else, you’ll be yourself.
But in the beginning it is really hard because you don’t know a lot about dancing, techniques, fundamentals, and it turns out that that’s not too clear in your mind, not too conscious. But after some time, when you have all this knowledge, all this weight, when you’re going to make a step – you know that this step already exists, someone else already made it – but you’ll do it with more consciousness, with knowledge, with all the study you had, all you lived through. It’s kinda crazy, but for us, it makes a lot of sense. Pablo Picasso said, “art is stealing”. So nothing is created, everything is copied, is adapted, there is no way out. What changes is your experience, no one has the same experience as you, the same story, it is impossible. So what changes is your story in that move, in that dance, in that choreography. So many people may do the choreography, the same one, a thousand people, but everyone will be doing it differently, but it is the same choreography, with one intensity, one story, one emotion, with a different ending.
BUT IT IS HARD TO EXPLAIN BECAUSE NORMALLY WE COMPARE EACH OTHER A LOT, WE ALWAYS WANT TO BE OUR INSPIRATION, OUR REFERENCE. AND THE TRUTH IS THAT WE’LL NEVER BE THE SAME. WHAT WE SAY TO MANY DANCERS IS THAT YOU’LL NEVER BE THE SAME A THE OTHER. YOU CAN DO THE SAME STEP, BUT JUST FOR THE FACT THAT IT WAS YOU WHO DID IT, THAT STEP WILL BE DIFFERENT.
How is your daily life?
To be a dancer is to be autonomous – it’s as if you were an athlete. The difference from an athlete is that you don’t have a coach telling you that “you’re going to wake up everyday at 6 a.m., go to where you train, train with me and I am going to tell you what to do”. It’s you, by yourself. I’m going to wake up at 6 a.m., have breakfast, run 2 km on the street, then, get back to practicing. For a dancer, it’s hard to have self discipline as an athlete. I have references that say that dancers are athletes because they take care of the body just as an athlete, so we can do what we do. Because we need the physical, we need conditioning. And there is also the emotional side, which is more artistic.
So I try to balance these things and try to have the discipline to be a better dancer in matters of technique and high performance. You can be a concept artistic dancer and all, and this is really good, sometimes you don’t even need much practice, training, sometimes just your personality will make you an artist by itself. But when we talk about performance, about physical conditioning, about technique, then it comes down to practicing like an athlete and having discipline. One thing I try to teach in the workshops is that being a dancer is just as hard as any other career nowadays and I believe the only thing that will highlight you in the middle of so many professionals is discipline, focus, and being a good person. There is no use being a good dancer and a shitty person. This is what I try to bring out the most, regardless if it for beginners or intermediate class.
But I try to be flexible with all of it, my studies, classes, workshops, with my personal life. So on weekends, I try to go out with my girlfriend and do other stuff that’s not related to dancing because we live dance full time and sometimes we need to go out, go to the movies, watch Netflix, go to the park. I also try to play tennis with my father, practice other sports. But, like, most of the time I am dancing, practicing, having or giving classes, or discussing dancing, talking with other professionals. And you can’t escape from it. I am a workaholic, I like to work, Sunday is not a resting day for me, so if I have to work on Sundays I’ll work, Monday, Saturday, Tuesday, holidays. For me, all the time I can spend dancing, I’ll dance.
Do you have any connection with sneakers? Because it certainly has some importance in dancing, in history, and in its function.
Funny, when I was a kid, I’d always run a lot in school, played soccer, and my dad always bought fake cheap sneakers from random stores downtown, and they would last like a month. In my head it didn’t make sense, I’d think “isn’t it worth more to buy a good sneaker that lasts 2 or 3 years, rather than buying one that will get worn out quickly?”. Anyways, I wouldn’t argue, you know, I was a kid. And after some time, when I started dancing and taking classes, I still didn’t have a specific dancing sneaker, one that dancers use for performances and stuff. I started working and bought my first branded sneaker, spent good money, cried, but it lasted until today. It’s been 4 or 5 years since I’ve bought it.
Today, I know it makes sense to buy a good sneaker that lasts more time and that doesn’t harm my knee, because as I said about health, as athletes, dancers also need a good sneaker that won’t hurt our knee, our how we step, that will cushion the fall. So for us, these sports-focused, but also urban sneakers are really important – because dancing is a performance in wich you use your body, but at the same time, it is stylish. You need a good urban sneaker that is also good for your health. So, since I started dancing, the look of the sneaker matters, but also what’s inside matters, to ensure your physical and body health won’t be harmed, that you won’t twist your foot. Nowadays, I always try to buy sneakers that will physically help me, and also with my health, but that also looks good on me and on the photos and videos.
BUT WHEN THE SNEAKER IS STYLISH, WHEN I’LL USE SOMEWHERE THAT WON’T MAKE IT DIRTY, I’LL USE THE SAME SNEAKER TO DANCE AND TO GO OUT. DANCE IS ALSO ABOUT THE LOOK, RIGHT? SO WE LIKE TO LOOK GOOD.
The sneaker you use to dance is the same one you use to go out?
Yeah, I basically use the same sneaker to dance and to go out. When it’s a all white sneaker, I’ll say “I’ll use this one to go out and sometimes to dance”. But when the sneaker is stylish, when I’ll use somewhere that won’t make it dirty, I’ll use the same sneaker to dance and to go out. Dance is also about the look, right? So we like to look good.