Pacific Northwest Ballet was founded in 1972 as Pacific Northwest Dance Association under the aegis of Seattle Opera Association, with early leadership provided by Leon Kalimos (Executive Director, 1973-1977), Janet Reed (Ballet Mistress and Director of the School, 1974-1976) and Melissa Hayden (Ballet Mistress, and Director of the School, 1976-1977). Highlights of these early years include the acquisition of Lew Christensen’s Nutcracker in 1975 and a mixed repertory season offered in Spring 1977. The Company became an independent organization in September 1977 and was renamed Pacific Northwest Ballet in 1978.
In August 1977, Kent Stowell and Francia Russell were appointed Artistic Directors of Pacific Northwest Dance. During their extended tenure the Company and School attained an international reputation for superb performances and excellent training.
In July 2005, Peter Boal succeeded Mr. Stowell and Ms. Russell as Artistic Director of Pacific Northwest Ballet and Director of Pacific Northwest Ballet School.
In 1977, Pacific Northwest Ballet comprised 18 dancers. In 2009, the Company includes 48 dancers, many of whom have received training at Pacific Northwest Ballet School.
Career transition has been a constant priority for Pacific Northwest Ballet. In 1988, the first dancer transition program, Beyond Dance, was established. Today, Second Stage for Dancers offers a variety of assistance, including continuing education grants, mentoring, and an in-house program of university courses in cooperation with Seattle University.
Artistic Director Peter Boal is assisted by three ballet masters. Otto Neubert danced with Stuttgart Ballet and New York City Ballet and has been with Pacific Northwest Ballet since 1992. Anne Dabrowski, formerly with Hartford Ballet, joined Pacific Northwest Ballet as ballet master in 1997. Paul Gibson joined Pacific Northwest Ballet as a soloist in 1994 and was made a principal in 1996. He became ballet master upon his retirement in 2004. The ballet masters teach and rehearse the Company and also rehearse Pacific Northwest Ballet School students who perform in Nutcracker and other ballets with the Company.
Pacific Northwest Ballet’s resident production staff is renowned for their excellence. Led by Lighting Designer and Technical Director Randall G. Chiarelli (with PNB since 1979),the full- time staff of impressive tenure comprises stage managers, technical crew, and scenic shop, as well as a costume shop managed by Larae Theige Hascall (with PNB since 1983) and wardrobe. The scope of their talent is revealed through the Company’s vast repertoire, most of which is built on site in Seattle at the Phelps Center and Pacific Northwest Ballet’s scenic shop in Fremont.
Pacific Northwest Ballet’s commitment to live music and high performance standards has been a priority from the beginning. The Company has been praised for its diverse, stimulating, and challenging repertoire of music that ranges from the great ballet scores of Tchaikovsky, Delibes, and Stravinsky to new works by John Adams, Philip Glass, and Arvo Pärt to American classics by Leonard Bernstein, William Bolcom, George Gershwin, and Jerome Kern.