Meet the NEXT STEP Artist: Mark Cuddihee

Mark Cuddihee is from Greenville, South Carolina. He studied at Carolina Ballet Theatre, the School of American Ballet, Boston Ballet School, and Pacific Northwest Ballet School, and he attended summer courses at the School of American Ballet, Miami City Ballet School, Boston Ballet School, and Pacific Northwest Ballet School. In 2017, he was a participant in Boston Ballet School’s Royal Danish Ballet exchange program. Mr. Cuddihee joined Pacific Northwest Ballet as an apprentice in 2019 and was promoted to corps de ballet later that year.

Read on to learn a little more about Mark 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 this year explores the feeling of needing to escape, and then the rejection of others’ attempts to bring you solace. Ultimately, it hinges on the theme of being able to accept the help of others in order to bring about reunion with one’s true self.

Have you choreographed before? Why did you choose to choreograph this year?
This is my second year choreographing for the NEXT STEP Program. I chose to choreograph again this year in order to challenge myself to explore new choreographic themes and movement qualities. My process this year focused on including more group movements, darker themes, and an attempt at building tension for the audience.

What do you hope the audience leaves with from watching your piece?
I hope the audience leaves feeling as if they have witnessed a full arc in terms of the story telling my piece attempts. Additionally, I hope they leave with as many questions as answers, along with the urge to see it again.

What do you plan to do during the summer?
During my time off I plan to go on a few short motorcycle trips, visit friends and family across the US, and spend as much time as possible by the ocean.

What are you most excited about these days?
Next Step!

Who were your role models or inspiration when you were younger?
My role models growing up were my parents. Since then, I have found that the source of much of my inspiration comes from my friends and colleagues.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?
Classical music can almost always pull me out of a bad mood.

Describe yourself in three words
Curious, optimistic, open-minded.

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

Listen more, and never stop seeking out new experiences.

Photo credits: Mark Cuddihee © Angela Sterling.