Mike Tyus

Interview Highlights
Q: How do you think we can continue to create and share art during this time? 
Oh, there are millions of ways. What’s so funny is that a couple of months ago, I remember the iPhone and social media being a demon. We were all saying that we were addicted — and now it’s our saving grace. It’s a way to see our family and share work, make work. There are so many opportunities with a cell phone, especially with visual art, to share your work online. One thing I am doing with Jacob Jonas the Company is a hashtag we created, #digitaldance. We partner with large arts institutions like Juilliard, Alvin Ailey, and Pilobolus Dance Theater. We send out dance creation tasks and people create a piece and share them online. It’s a great way to see people I wouldn’t have exposure to. It’s so wonderful seeing how fruitful it is to just give people the opportunity to make stuff. I find it easier and more fun to make work with others, so what I’ve been trying to do is take the things I do at home and figure out how to share them online with other people. It’s been so fun, because I don’t think I would have done it otherwise, which is so silly. There are so many challenges to do online now too. There is still so much work to be made, even if we’re apart. 

Q: Using the idea of “worldmaking” how do you imagine the performing arts world after the pandemic? (Worldmaking: How you can re-imagine the world in your own terms, the way you want it to be. Using this tool one can construct new worlds and write themselves into narratives that have excluded them and systems that have disabled them.)
It’ll be really tough. Because there will be fewer opportunities for work, I think a lot of people will be creating more opportunities for themselves. We won’t be driven by monetary gain but by a true and natural desire to make beautiful things, or things that speak to the heart of our complex human nature. Personally, my career has thankfully supported me for a long time financially. Sometimes I’m driven financially to do specific jobs. Now, because of the lack of those jobs, I feel like I’ll just do what I’m made to do. The community will come together and work together without the hierarchy of high art and low art. I think we’ll expand our awareness of each other and create more opportunities for each other without this limitation of finances. Sometimes money and how you get it can be as limiting as not having it. Right now, arts organizations are losing so much money, closing here and there, and artists are going to have to become true artists again. We’ll have to make work for the sake of making work. In a beautiful world, our government would bail us out all these organizations and they would pay us to make wonderful work at the end of this... But I think it will be bleaker than that.
Read full interview here

Mike Tyus is a performing artist who began training in dance as a physical therapy after a leg operation due to a bone disease at the age of 11. Soon after, he began performing and choreographing for a company called Urban Poets Dance Theater. Finding his personal sense of artistry unexpectedly lead him to working for Cirque Du Soleil in two world class productions and one creation in collaboration with the composer Danny Elfman. Inspired to continue creating he joined the modern dance company, Pilobolus Dance Theater. There he was able to hone his skills in directing while co-creating company repertoire that is still performed today. Mike is currently the Rehearsal Director for Jacob Jonas The Company, a fresh dance company in LA that pursues the creation of community by creating content for the stage and social media platforms (ex. #camerasanddancers). Mike recently worked with Sidi Larbi Cherkoui on the creation of a musical to be performed in Paris. With gratitude, Mike continues to pursue performing and choreographic opportunities that allow for growth and new discovery. His pursuit for truth and human connection through the performing arts continues to lead him on quite an adventure, 20 countries and 4 continents. Traveling has given him a broader perspective on how to relate to the world through story and given him a thirst for diverse interactions. Through his experience as a performer he's gained insight on how to lead artists to finding their individual voice and crafting visually exciting moments that evoke emotion on stage. Mike is grateful to Whim’ Whim for the opportunity to continue pursuing a career in directing and choreography.