Energetiks Talks with Louis McMiller
Talented and inspiring, Louis McMiller has everything you could ask for in a male dancer: pure classical technique coupled with effortless style and the ability to push his dancing to the edge of what's creatively possible.
A graduate of the prestigious Royal Ballet School in London, Louis has forged a career in contemporary ballet that regularly takes him across the globe (he has adopted the hashtag #theflyingdancer on Instagram). In addition to his success internationally as a dancer, he has also featured in mainstream modelling campaigns and advertisements, bringing his emotive movement style into another facet of the industry. We chatted to Louis about his busy dance life, how he got to where he is today, and what motivates him to keep reaching his goals.
Featuring photographs by Alex Fine Photography
How did you get into dance and what training and experiences have you been through?
I started dancing at the age of 7 and my first lesson was tap (which I haven’t done for over 10 years now!!!). I loved it so much, and then my grandma thought I should do ballet lessons too and I was up for trying it and fell in love with that too! I was the only boy in my class but I didn’t care - I was friends with all the girls so I was happy!
I left home to attend a Performing Arts boarding school at the age of 10 and found that really challenging at first. I was super young and missed my family a lot and thought many times that it wasn’t the right thing for me, but through perseverance, lots of support and countless arguments with my mother (!) I stayed and ended up never wanting to go home!
I moved to London when I was 16 and joined The Royal Ballet School in Covent Garden, which was the best decision I ever made. I feel that’s when things really started to kick off for me properly; the best training, right in the heart of London and meeting many of the people I am so thankful for today.
What are some of your favourite memories of dance as a child?
The first memory that springs to mind was in a tap exam when I must have been about 9 years old. Tapping my little heart out and all of a sudden my heel fell off! I honestly don’t know how but I ended up with the highest mark in the class!
You must have really impressed them with your determination! Did you ever experience bullying or discrimination growing up as a male dancer and if so how did you overcome this?
I think everybody experiences this on some level at some point, even during adulthood. I wouldn’t say for me it’s been a massive thing but the most important thing in any situation like that is to be as confident with yourself as you can, be happy and be nice to everyone. I also see things in a way that if they don’t happen for whatever the reason is, they were just not meant to be and it’s their loss.
What types of roles and jobs have you done in your professional career?
When I graduated from the Royal Ballet School I joined Studio Wayne McGregor and have worked for him for the past 8 years. The work is so interesting, challenging and stimulates you so much as an artist that I feel really invested in everything I’m doing. I have also been fortunate to be featured in fashion magazines and campaigns aside from dancing, including Uniqlo, Westfield and FKA Twigs album artwork.
How does modelling compare to dancing for you?
Modelling is cool. It’s something I like doing when I don’t have my dancer head on, although a lot of the time I end up using movement on shoots, as photographers always like to see you can make the body look in motion in a still photo.
What is your favourite performance memory?
My favourite performance memory and actually my career highlight has to be dancing at the Palais Garnier in Paris, working for Company Wayne McGregor on ‘Tree of Codes’. To dance on one of the most prestigious stages in the world was an honour, a dream come true and something that you just never think will happen, but it did!
We love Paris! You get to travel a lot, what are some of your favourite places you’ve visited and why?
I love going to the US - I’m close to my family when I’m there and also I LOVE American candy! I like going to places that I would never personally choose to go on vacation too. I always like meeting local people and getting a feel for the place. There are so many places with so much history that I wouldn't even know about if it wasn’t for my job taking me there so I feel very fortunate to be able to see so many corners of the World.
What motivates and inspires you?
I’m a Virgo, so I have a very strong perfectionist trait in my personality (my mum always tells me this!). I find this gets me going, and constantly striving for the best is a big motivator. It can make things frustrating when they’re not fully going to plan, but I have a word with myself and remember perfection is impossible!
My colleagues and Wayne are super inspiring — I get to see incredible dancers everyday, pushing themselves to their max, and performing on stage with them is a really beautiful thing. We are sharing that time, space and energy, and without them, my performance would be completely different. There has to be an element of inspiration both ways creatively with whoever I work with, whether that’s in dance or fashion. I think that’s when you see a great, authentic result from a project.
What is your favourite dance style and why?
I think my ultimate favourite dance style would have to be ballet. It’s so pure, and I love the elegance and cleanliness of it. Most of the work I do starts from traditional ballet and then might be altered and pushed to another level, so it’s a strong base.
What do you always keep in your dance bag?
Lip balm, Tiger balm and Mario Badescu Facial Spray!
Finally, what would be your advice to anyone wanting to pursue a career in dance?
Go for it and don’t be scared! Don’t let anyone squash your dreams. If there is something you want bad enough - you’ll get there. My grandma still says to me, “Think Positively!” and it seems to do the trick when you need it to.