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NB is excited to introduce their new Apprentices

NB is excited to introduce their new Apprentices

Ashton Edwards, Melisa Guilliams, Zsilas Michael Hughes, and Joh Morrill!

At Pacific Northwest Ballet, Apprentices are the first professional position with the Company. Apprentice positions are offered to PNB School Professional Division graduates. PNB School is recognized as one of the top three ballet training institutions in the United States, offering extraordinary dance training to more than 1,000 young dancers. Please join us in celebrating these dancers and their career milestones. Welcome, Melisa, Ashton, Zsilas, and Joh! Listed below are two of PNB Apprentices Ashton Edwards and Zsilas Michael Hughes:


How has PNB School prepared you for ballet company life? Pacific Northwest Ballet is known for its excellence in the art of dance and it’s also recognized as an organization whose progression catapults the ballet world forward as a unit.

PNB School develops dancers in preparation for company life by encouraging dancers to explore artistic freedom and choice, providing a safe environment at which we can continue to master our craft.

What’s your favorite pandemic-friendly spot in Seattle?

My favorite pandemic friendly getaway would be the secret community garden on top of the parking garage, which is in very close proximity to Pacific Northwest Ballet and my apartment. That space gave me calmness in the storm, it gave peace, and a safe space to appreciate. There I am able to reflect on where I am in life and ponder on all the wildest places I can go in life. It is truly a magical place!

Did you pick up any hobbies during the pandemic that you are continuing?

During the pandemic I discovered that I am in love with making music. I have always been a performer in my own right as a dancer, but the recent discovery that I am very interested in creating my own sound and using musical instruments, abstract sounds, and different lyrical interludes to create something that I am proud of and something I can share with my friends. It has given me a new perspective on life, myself, and how we see the world. This has developed me in a way that natural maturity just cannot. Experience is knowledge and knowledge is growth, but without the experience, knowledge is frivolous.

What are you looking forward to this season at PNB?

Honestly, I am just overwhelmed with gratitude to even be in the same room with these talented artist and individuals. I am truly looking forward to learning from my future colleagues, directors, and friends. There is so much that has happened in the past two years that has left us drawn to positivity in any way we can find it. I am just itching to set foot into the room with the company, because I know that when I do, I can finally say I did it. I have made my dream come true!

What’s the best advice you’ve gotten about dancing professionally?

“Dance for yourself!”

The best advice I’ve taken would be my own. I hope that it’s not selfish or narcissistic to say but, I have learned that at times your own voice and your own heart will guide you in the right direction. This is not advice that I only tell myself daily but I also remind my friends to dance for themselves. What sets you apart from every other individual in the room with you is you have your own experiences that you draw from when you need to engage passion to create your overall presence. So when I dance, I dance for myself because I have to be able to breathe in the atmosphere of an unapologetic human who creates art.

Zsilas Michael Hughes is from Little Rock, Arkansas. He studied at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet School, and attended Summer Course at PNB School.


Where are you from originally? I was born in Seattle and have grown up around here my whole life! It’s so wonderful to be able to stay in this beautiful city close to my family. Did you pick up any hobbies during the pandemic that you are continuing? This is definitely more than a hobby, but I got an adorable puppy this year who has kept me VERY busy.

What are you looking forward to this season at PNB?

I am looking forward to being surrounded by such beautiful and inspiring dancers! I have looked up to members of this company since I was young and it’s surreal that I get to share the stage with them.

What’s the best advice you’ve gotten about dancing professionally?

The best advice I’ve received about dancing professionally is to find joy everywhere I can! It’s so simple, but there’s wisdom and courage in having fun. I’m lucky to have a job that brings other people happiness- the most important thing I can do is to find that for myself too!

Melisa Guilliams is from Edmonds, Washington. She studied at Evergreen City Ballet School and Pacific Northwest Ballet School, and attended summer courses at Miami City Ballet School and PNB School.