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 2020/21 Digital Season
The PNB 2020/21 season, title “Dance Happens Everywhere” will showcase a combination of new works, videos of past performances, and conversations with dancers and artists, plus bonus content curated and crafted to inspire, delight, and educate. The Company is devoted to creating a meaningful season of dance and invites you to join the adventure.
Plans for performing in McCaw Hall may be on hold, but art and evolution of PNB continues! The Digital Season includes performance events and a mix of new and archival video: Six dance performances, “Five Minute Call” (A peek backstage), Ballet Talks, and opportunities to meet the artists in a lively conversation about the works.
- Roméo and Juliette with intoxicating emotion and beauty. Rediscover the fragility and volatility of youth in this cinematic tale of first love. Streaming February 11-16, 2021.
- Byrd, Cerrudo & More. Three unique choreographers share the digital stage to present World Premieres. Streaming starts April 1-6, 2021.
- Coppélia will warm your heart with its comedy and charm. This delightful ballet features pristine choreography for our tiniest ballerinas and is perfect for the entire family! Streaming starts May 6-11, 2021.
- A collection of works by internationally-renowned choreographers. This stunning group pays homage to ballet’s past while simultaneously ushering the art form into the future. Streaming starts June 10-15, 2021.
PNB will fill your heart and mind with dance performances, dialogues, insights, and opportunities from the comfort and safety of your home. All for $190. Single tickets go on sale in September. More info: https://www.pnb.org/season/subscriptions/digital/
Note: the Pacific Northwest’s favorite holiday tradition, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker (November 27 – December 27, 2020) is not included in the 20-21 Digital Season. Nutcracker Tickets are sold separately. More info: http://www.pnb.org/nutcracker/