Pacific Northwest Ballet 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 Previews
Pacific Northwest Ballet Previews are hour-long studio rehearsals hosted by Director Peter Boal and PNB artistic staff, featuring Company dancers in excerpts from upcoming ballets.
PNB Previews are held at The Phelps Center, 301 Mercer Street, Seattle, WA 98109 (at Seattle Center, adjacent to McCaw Hall).
PNB Preview Tickets are $15.00 and may be purchased online, at the Phelps Box Office, or by phone.
2017-2018 PNB Previews
September 15, 5:00–6:00 pm, ‘Jewels’ is a unique ballet in three acts choreographed by George Balanchine. Each of the three acts is distinct in music and mood, performed to the music of a different composer: Emeralds to Fauré, Rubies to Stravinsky, and Diamonds to Tchaikovsky. . October 27, 5:00–6:00 pm, ‘Her Story’ celebrates the work of three female choreographers: Twyla Tharp’s Afternoon Ball, Jessica Lang’s Her Door to the Sky, and Crystal Pite’s Plot Point. January 26, 5:00–6:00 pm, ‘Swan Lake’ considered by many to be the greatest classical ballet of all time, featuring the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, choreographed by Kent Stowell for the 2003 opening of PNB’s inaugural season in Marion Oliver McCaw Hall.
March 9, 5:00–6:00 pm, DIRECTOR’S CHOICE. PNB director Peter Boal’s annual selection offers audiences a riveting duet, a favorite work, a little controversy, and a world premiere by PNB dancer Ezra Thomson.
For more information about the current season, visit: https://www.pnb.org/season/17-18/