Meet the NEXT STEP Artist: Joh Morrill

Joh Morrill (he/him) is from Seattle, Washington. He studied at Pacific Northwest Ballet and on scholarship at Colburn Dance Academy and attend summer courses at Pacific Northwest Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, and on scholarship at School of American Ballet and Palluca. Joh joined Pacific Northwest Ballet as an apprentice in 2021 and was promoted to corps de ballet in 2022.

Read on to learn a little more about Joh and his new work, and see his new choreographic work for NEXT STEP 2023 on Friday, June 16 at 7:30PM at McCaw Hall.
Click here for more information and to buy your tickets.

NEXT STEP is PNB’s annual choreographic workshop where Company dancers have the opportunity to create original works for PNB School Professional Division students. NEXT STEP provides opportunity, infrastructure, and support to grow tomorrow’s choreographic talent while providing a performance opportunity to our most advanced students.

Interviewed by Eric Hipolito

What is your piece about? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My piece is about the ordinary and the mundane. My inspiration is drawn from basic conversation and everyday interactions that one has with themselves and others. Whether it’s your morning coffee routine or a “how was your weekend” conversation. Seemingly insignificant actions take up most of our time as people, and yet these are the things that fade from our memory first when we go to remember.  I thought that was odd, so I set out to explore ordinary life through choreography.

What is your choreographic process like? Why did you choose to choreograph this year?
My choreographic process has been a shifting, changing experience. This is my first time choreographing. So naturally I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know where to begin but I had to start somewhere so I just fumbled and stumbled my way along until I began to slowly find my feet. I got better at communicating with my dancers, began to understand the kind of prep work I would need going into a rehearsal, and how to take the blueprint in my mind and build something for the stage. I would sum it up to say it has been an exciting, humbling, learning experience. I feel I am a novice in this world of choreography and I love it.

As for my reasons for choreographing, I applied because the idea of making a ballet intimidated me.

What do you want the audience to leave with after your piece?
I would love for the audience to feel calm. Perhaps a little more at ease then before the curtain rose, but how an audience feels is not for me to decide.

Who were your role models or inspiration when you were younger (dance or non-dancer)?
I don’t remember any of their names now. But it was always pioneers of the past. The first to climb every peak in some mountain range, the person who swam some absurd distance just to do it. I discovered a new person every month and would obsess over their story. They would go far out to untouched places of great beauty, remote and unbothered with some outlandish personal goal. And I would watch as their personal goals came to fruition on the screen in front of me. Real adventure was what inspired me as a child. So anyone I met with the spirit of adventure in them quickly became my inspiration.

What is the best piece of advice you have received?
“Don’t Bitch”

Photo credits: Joh Morrill © Angela Sterling. Joh Morrill in rehearsal for NEXT STEP with PNB School Professional Division students, photos © Eric Hipolito.