Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) is one of the largest and most highly regarded ballet companies in the United States. PNB was founded in 1972 as Pacific Northwest Dance Association under the aegis of Seattle Opera Association. The Company became an independent organization in September 1977 and was renamed Pacific Northwest Ballet in 1978.
Each year, the company of nearly fifty dancers presents more than 100 performances, including full-length and mixed repertory ballets in Seattle, as well as on tour. For the regular season, PNB performs at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall at Seattle Center. The regular season runs from September through March, with special additions through June.
The Company has toured to Europe, Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Canada, and throughout the United States, with celebrated appearances at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Centre in Massachusetts, and in New York City and Washington DC.
Pacific Northwest Ballet is also recognized as one of the top three ballet training institutions in the United States. The PNB School offers a professional curriculum serving more than 1,000 students. The School’s Open Program attracts another 600 teens and adults who wish to pursue recreational dance instruction in a supportive and encouraging setting. PNB school has two facilities: The Phelps Center at Seattle Center and The Francia Russell Center in Bellevue.
Finally, PNB created Second Stage in 1999, a career transition program to support PNB dancers in achieving their goals following a career in dance. Second Stage provides resources for dannces to take classes, access mentors and career counseling, and receive grants. PNB dancers transition to become Pilates instructors, real estate agents, interior designers, small business owners, medical students, and law students. A partnership with Seattle University offers PNB dancers college courses at convenient times that work with their busy schedules.
About Ballet Costumes and Production Staging
Since 1987, nearly every costume that PNB’s dancers worn has been built in PNB’s Costume Shop at Phelps Center, overlooking the company’s rehearsal space.
Ballet costumes begin with a design idea or sketch. Costumers in the shop work with the designer to develop a pattern for the idea and an initial costume constructed of muslin. Dancers try the muslin costumes, and a series of design changes, fittings, color choices, and fabrics are worked to complete the fully developed costume as intended by the designer intended.
The costumes must be constructed to withstand the stress of a dancer’s movement, yet move effortlessly with the dancer, and last through countless washings. Costumes must also be easy for a dancer to put on and take off, and allow for easy alterations from one dancer to the next.
PNB’s Production Shop has been in existence since 1975. Initially the staff worked in the boiler room of the Good Shepherd in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood, then in the old Ballard Ice Arena, and finally a warehouse in Fremont.
Set creation is a collaborative process involving the artistic staff, choreographer, designers, and technicians who facilitate their work by constructing models to check the production’s sets and props against choreography, lighting, and costumes. Some sets take a full year to build. Once completed the set must be dismantled and stored, then transported and installed in the theater for the next performance.
The requirements for ballets vary widely. The PNB Production shop has produced 200 pounds of snow for the Nutcracker from fireproof paper, installed over 1,000 miniature light bulbs on the Nutcracker Christmas tree, constructed Cinderella’s filigreed 23-foot carriage, and found chandeliers, pewter and china for Cinderella in antique stores.
Pacific Northwest Ballet 2021/22 Season
PNB is returns to in-person performances this season with options for everyone. Partial Season subscriptions begin at just $120 (four in-person productions, February – June).
November 18-22. 2022. Presented digitally. Beyond Ballet. Celebrate the unique voices of three internationally acclaimed choreographers promises unmatched emotion, expression, and musicality: Ulysses Dove’s mournful Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven, Jessica Lang’s haunting Ghost Variations, and the PNB Premiere of Alonzo King’s The Personal Element.
November 26 – December 28, 2021. George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker® is the perfect centerpiece for any celebration. Gather your loved ones to come enjoy our beautifully decked hall, and let your soul have its fill of holiday cheer.
February 4-13, 2022. Romeo et Juliette. Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Roméo et Juliette will sweep you away to Verona and back again. Savor the incredible dancing, the flush of first love, Prokofiev’s rich score, and the drama of Shakespeare’s classic story – all in the course of one stunning ballet.
March 18-27, 2022. Plot Points. Bold experimentation is the theme for this set of trailblazing pieces. Crystal Pite, Justin Peck, and Robyn Mineko-Williams flip expectations upside down and come out the other side in an enigmatic new world. PNB audiences will remember the cinematic suspense of Pite’s Plot Point from previous performances. The arresting complexity of Peck’s The Times Are Racing and a world premiere by Mineko-Williams (The Trees The Trees) are sure to make a similarly deep impression.
March 20, 26 & 27, 2022. Bruce Wells’ Beauty and The Beast. Aan enchanting tale of adventure, unlikely friendships, and the power of true love. Find the beauty within this hour-long narrated production designed for younger audience members and performed by students of the Pacific Northwest Ballet School.
April 15-24, 2022. Swan Lake. PNB’s triumphant return to the stage wouldn’t be complete without Kent Stowell’s Swan Lake. Every element of this production is carefully crafted to keep you on the edge of your seat, from the masterful choreography, to the stunning costumes, to the undeniably iconic score. Most captivating of all? The story at the ballet’s heart: a classic tale of good versus evil, temptation, tragedy, and love of the highest order.
June 3-12, 2022. All Tharp. All about the legendary dancer, director, and choreographer Twyla Tharp. From the sweet echo of her own Quaker roots in Sweet Fields, to the haunting Scottish clan in Brief Fling, to the all-out joy of New Orleans that runs through Waiting at the Station – Tharp draws inspiration from around the globe and yet her style remains quintessentially her own.
More info: The PNB 2021/22 season.