Meet the 2024 NEXT STEP Artist: Melisa Guilliams

In this blog, you’ll learn more about PNB Company dancer Melisa Guilliams and her new work for NEXT STEP! NEXT STEP provides opportunity, infrastructure, and support to grow tomorrow’s choreographic talent while providing a unique performance opportunity for PNB School’s Professional Division dancers. This year, Professional Division students will perform original work from company dancers Lily Wills, Noah Martzall, Luca Anaya, Melisa Guilliams, and the co-choreographer teams of Elle Macy/Dylan Wald and Amanda Morgan/Christopher D’Ariano. Learn more about this exciting step in Melisa’s creative journey below.

What themes/concepts are you exploring in your Next Step Piece?

I am exploring a social phenomenon called the spotlight effect. This is when people believe that others are paying more attention to them than they really are. A shared quality of self-consciousness will be present throughout the piece.

What is your choreographic process like?

This is my first time creating material on a larger group. I started by making a few movement phrases then gradually developing and molding them to better communicate my central idea.

What choreographers inspire you?

I have been very fortunate to work with several female choreographers I find particularly inspiring—Crystal Pite, Dani Rowe, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, and Twyla Tharp would be just naming a few.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

Something people may not know about me is that I am bilingual (Japanese/English) and have spent much of my life in Japan. Also, I never pass up an opportunity to talk about my seven-pound Maltese poodle, Miso.

How does choreographing inform your performance practice? 

Choreographing in Next Step has sparked my curiosity as a dancer, asking me to explore how other choreographers I have danced for communicated with their audience. Teaching the Professional Division students my own movement language has also evolved my technique to better articulate ideas.

You can see Melisa’s piece, The Spotlight Effect, on Tuesday, June 4 at 7:00PM at On the Boards. Click here for more information and to buy your tickets.

Photo credits: Featured photo – Melisa Guilliams, photo © Angela Sterling. Melisa Guilliams, photo © Angela Sterling. Melisa Guilliams and Dani Rowe, photo © Angela Sterling.