Meet the 2024 NEXT STEP Artist: Noah Martzall

In this blog, you’ll learn more about PNB Company dancer Noah Martzall and his 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 Noah’s creative journey below.

Answers edited for clarity.

What themes or concepts are you exploring in your piece?

I originally started with the theme of an androgynous being. I didn’t want the theme to necessarily be about people or the binary of man and woman. I wanted it to be abstract – more about questioning what the dancers are, rather than the audience seeing, “Oh look, these are just people dancing.” My piece is loosely based on that concept and how it translates into movement. 

What is your choreographic process like?

My process typically starts with finding music that inspires me. That has been my start every year I’ve done NEXT STEP, which has been three years in a row now! From there, I like to get into a studio and start dancing to the music. I close my eyes and picture what steps I see, if I see a large group of people, or if I envision a solo or a duet.

I like to create all the movement myself; I don’t rely heavily on the dancers to provide much of the phrase work. I like to create something, teach it to them, see how they do it, and then get inspired by their interpretation of my movement. I don’t make my dancers improv or create phrases themselves. I guess you could say I’m picky that way!

What choreographers inspire you?

There are so many. Crystal Pite is a big inspiration. I’ve gotten to do a work of hers every year I’ve been in the company, so I feel her movement, her language, of sorts, has become one with me. Forsythe and Balanchine too, the hard hitters, they’re everyone’s favorites. 

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

That’s a hard one! When I was younger, I was a gymnast. Some people might know this, but I started as a gymnast before I was a dancer. 

How does choreographing inform your performance practice? 

When you’re choreographing, you’re doing a lot of watching the movement instead of doing it. When you take a step back like that, it allows you to see where a movement could be bigger, or where it could be smaller and more subtle. That has informed my own dancing. It has helped me maximize my movement and make it clearer to the audience. By choreographing, stepping back, watching the dance, and knowing what the steps are, you can fine-tune how everything should be done. That’s a valuable lesson that I’d like to take into my dancing.

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

Photo credits: Noah Martzall © Angela Sterling. Noah Martzall in rehearsal with PNB School Professional Division students, photo © Eric Hipolito.