Pacific Northwest Ballet

Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) is a ballet company based in Seattle, Washington, in the United States. It is said to have the highest per capita attendance in the United States,[1] with 11,000 subscribers in 2004.[2] The company consists of 49 dancers;[3] there are over 100 performances throughout the year.

Pacific Northwest Ballet
General information
NamePacific Northwest Ballet
Previous namesPacific Northwest Dance Association
Year founded1972
Principal venueMarion Oliver McCaw Hall
Senior staff
DirectorPeter Boal
Artistic staff
Principal ConductorEmil de Cou
OrchestraPacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra
Official schoolPacific Northwest Ballet School
Corps de Ballet

PNB performs in McCaw Hall at the Seattle Center. It is especially known for its performance of the Stowell/Maurice Sendak Nutcracker, which it had presented from 1983 through 2014,[4] as well as made into a feature film.[5] In 2006, the company was chosen to perform in the Fall for Dance Festival at New York's City Center Theatre and at the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival.[6]


Pacific Northwest Ballet was founded in 1972, after the two-month residency of First Chamber Dance Company,[7] as part of the Seattle Opera and named the Pacific Northwest Dance Association.[8] Under the directorship of Kent Stowell and Francia Russell, originally of New York City Ballet,[9] it broke away from the Opera in 1977 and took its current name in 1978.[10] Stowell and Russell left at the end of the 2004–2005 season.[11] A portrait by artist Michele Rushworth was painted of Stowell and Russell and installed in the Phelps Center, Seattle, to commemorate their careers and retirement. Both had studied with and danced for George Balanchine.[12]

In July 2005, Peter Boal succeeded Stowell and Russell as artistic director following their retirement.[11] After dancing with the New York City Ballet for 22 years, he had been a full-time faculty member at The School of American Ballet from 1995-2005.

In 2013, the company and its orchestra toured to New York for the first time in sixteen years. The New York Times dance critic Alastair Macaulay, stated of their presentation that "This is a true company," more "unified in its understanding of Balanchine" than the New York City Ballet.[13]

In 2012, PNB brought in Twyla Tharp as its first artist in residence for a year-long residency.[14]

Pacific Northwest Ballet School

The Pacific Northwest Ballet School was founded in 1974.[15] Formerly directed by Francia Russell, and now directed by Peter Boal, it has been considered to be "one of the leading, if not the definitive, professional training school in the country."[16] The teaching is structured on that of the School of American Ballet.[17] Pacific Northwest Ballet holds an annual summer course in the month of July and is considered one of the leading summer dance education facilities in the country.


Pacific Northwest Ballet is noted for choosing dancers that have physique, expressivity and a variety of body shapes.[18]



Corps de ballet

Notable former dancers


  1. Flatow, Sheryl (July 1, 1995). "Full Length Ballets". Dance Magazine. Retrieved April 23, 2008.
  2. Macdonald, Moira (February 12, 2004). "Ballet's artistic directors to retire". The Seattle Times. Retrieved January 3, 2012.
  3. "The Artists" (Press release). Pacific Northwest Ballet. 2018. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  4. Burbank, Megan (December 13, 2017). "Balanchine's Nutcracker Will Never Be The Nutcracker Of My Childhood". Portland Mercury. Portland, OR, United States. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
  5. "Pacific Northwest Ballet's Nutcracker". Retrieved April 23, 2008.
  6. Kurtz, Sandra (December 27, 2006). "New Kid in Town". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved April 23, 2008.
  7. Campbell, R.M. (January 2, 2003). "Dance professional Bennett raised standard in Seattle". Seattle PI. Seattle, United States. Retrieved January 10, 2012. Campbell cites the residency as occurring in 1971.
  8. Campbell refers to the organization as the Pacific Northwest Ballet Association.
  9. Kisselgoff, Anna (March 28, 1984). "The New York Debut of Pacific Northwest". New York Times. New York City, United States. Retrieved January 3, 2012.
  10. "PNB History and Fact Sheet" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on November 12, 2007. Retrieved April 23, 2008.
  11. "PNB Vision and Mission". Archived from the original on February 28, 2008. Retrieved April 23, 2008.
  12. Macaulay, Alastair (September 27, 2007). "An Idiomatic Balanchine, Walking the Walk in Seattle". The New York Times.
  13. Macaulay, Alastair (February 17, 2013). "Performers From the West Coast Serve Up Balanchine". New York Times. New York, United States. Retrieved February 17, 2013.
  14. Kaderlan, Alice (September 23, 2013). "Pacific Northwest Ballet debuts its talented new status symbol". Crosscut. Seattle, United States: Crosscut Public Media. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  15. "PNB School – School Philosophy". Retrieved April 23, 2008.
  16. Horosko, Marian (February 1, 1996). "Pacific Northwest Ballet School: doing it right". Dance Magazine.
  17. Campbell, R.M. (June 16, 2008). "Pacific Northwest Ballet school's annual spring performances brim with talent". Seattle PI. Seattle, United States. Retrieved January 10, 2012.
  18. Datz, Melody (March 20, 2013). "Approaching Heaven". The Stranger. Seattle, United States. Retrieved March 20, 2013.
  19. Macaulay, Alastair (June 9, 2015). "Carla Körbes Grandly Bows Out of Pacific Northwest Ballet". New York Times. New York, United States. Retrieved June 10, 2015.
  20. Datz, Melody (May 28, 2014). "Bowing Out: When and Why Ballet Dancers Retire". The Stranger. Seattle, United States.


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