PNB Blog Entries

Below are past entries from the PNB Blog. Visit the blog for for insider information on what's happening, commentary by artistic staff, and news & events! You can also follow PNB's recent blog entries on PNB's Facebook Fan Page.

Stowell/Sendak Nutcracker: A Look Back in Pictures

By (Pacific Northwest Ballet)
Wednesday, Nov 26 at 1:30 PM

As we prepare for the farewell season of PNB’s Stowell/Sendak Nutcracker, here’s a look back in pictures at how this cherished holiday tradition got its start.

Maurice Sendak’s original illustrations:
Maurice Sendak's original illustration of Clara.

Maurice Sendak's original illustrations of Clara and the Prince.

Maurice Sendak's original illustration for PNB's Stowell/Sendak Nutcracker.

Maurice Sendak's original illustration for PNB's Stowell/Sendak Nutcracker.

Maurice Sendak and Kent Stowell during Nutcracker rehearsals:

Costume Shop Manager Larae Hascall helps out backstage:

The famous growing Christmas tree backstage at Seattle’s old Opera House:

The rebuilt Christmas tree in a Boeing hangar:

Maurice Sendak, Patricia Barker, Alaina Albertson, Wade Walthall, and Kent Stowell on opening night of Nutcracker (December 1983):

For more photos, be sure to open your Nutcracker program to the centerfold for a special commemorative feature! If you’d like to read more about our beloved Stowell/Sendak Nutcracker, check out our archived blog posts:

Blog by Kristen Ramer Liang.

PNB Goes Back to School

By (Pacific Northwest Ballet)
Friday, Oct 10 at 1:01 PM

Photo: PNB Community Education Department staff and faculty, August 2014

By Ana Maria Campoy, PNB Community Education Programs Assistant and Teaching Artist

I have always loved the first week of school. There is this exciting feeling of another new start, new things to learn, and new ambitions that makes one ready to whole-heartedly dive into whatever the year has to hold. I am not embarrassed to say that I still do “back-to-school” shopping every year!

The main reason I love back-to-school season is because the PNB Community Education Department hits the ground running (or should I say dancing!) at full speed. We have such a talented, intelligent, and passionate group of teaching artists and accompanists whose excitement about being back in the classrooms is completely infectious. It is impossible not to soak up their joy and eagerness. Every year we have different students, maybe different teachers and principals, but that enthusiasm never goes way.

Photo: PNB teaching artist Shannon Barnes with 2nd grade DISCOVER DANCE students. Photo © Bill Mohn

Our biggest program, DISCOVER DANCE, started last week. This residency program introduces dance to students and schools that otherwise have no dance education programming. Entire classrooms work with one of our teaching artists for 3-4 months, learning dance vocabulary and choreographic basics in order to create a dance. Each classroom choreographs a final piece that integrates curriculum they are learning in another subject area. We have seen dances based on science, math, stories, and social studies. The best part is seeing these students taking ownership of their part within their dance as well as an increased desired to express oneself through movement. This year we have 37 participating classrooms, 940 students, 54 teachers, and 14 different languages within our 11 DISCOVER DANCE partner schools. All in all this will mean over 1,200 instructional hours this school year!

Photo: PNB teaching artist Lauren Kirchner with 3rd grade DISCOVER DANCE students. Photo © Jacob Lambert

I visited some of these schools last week and students still remember, with great pride, the dance they created with their classmates, acknowledging that it took diligence, collaboration, and practice to get performance ready. They all still enjoy and connect to dance. With lasting impressions like that, how can I not be excited for this time of year every year?

Photo: DISCOVER DANCE students explore the concept of level using a mirroring exercise. Photo © Jacob Lambert

I have so many memories every year from our programs that honestly, this post could go on forever. Here are some of my favorites: 
  • Seeing students (including sports-loving boys!) leap as they exit PNB Studios after a fieldtrip, because they were inspired not only from their dance class, but also from watching PNB Company dancers during rehearsal.
  • Hearing a student explain that music is necessary because “it gives dancers emotions”.
  • Students asking, “You mean, someone like ME, can dance? Someone like ME can be a dancer?” I have heard that from students of every age, race, physical ability, and gender. It is inspiring to hear PNB teaching artists, dancers, and partners look those students in the eye and say, “Yes, dance belongs to everyone,” every time.
Photo: 7th grade students participate in a DISCOVER DANCE class at their school. Photo © Jacob Lambert

  • The moment when audiences cheer for our students at a DISCOVER DANCE Performance at McCaw Hall or at their school. Seeing families and friends bursting with pride after the performance is also pretty unforgettable. 
  • Hearing gasps, “ooooohs”, and loud cheers when the curtain comes up on the McCaw Hall stage during our EYES ON DANCE Student Matinees. I love seeing Nutcracker, Don Quixote, or Snow White through the eyes of students; watching the audience is just as magical as watching the dancers on stage. 
  • The reverence every student gives when visiting the costume shop as well as the sincere, thoughtful responses every worker gives when peppered with questions.
  • Students who begin to connect with their peers and teacher, understand a subject, or gain self-confidence because of what they gained in dance class. 
  • Observing our ten teaching artists throughout the year, seeing how they grow as artists and teachers. Their dedication to the work and students they serve is vast.

Two years ago we served 18,861 students and community members through our Community Education Programs. Last year we served 22,173 students and community members. I truly admire how our Programs Manager, Kayti Bouljon, keeps looking at our programs and says, “We did great last year. Let’s do better. Let’s reach more students. Let’s continue making dance accessible to more people.”

Photo: An 8th grade student prepares for the DISCOVER DANCE performance at McCaw Hall. Photo © Jacob Lambert
Every year we face various challenges within the classroom and outside of it (new principals, new teachers, limited resources, etc.), but that’s what working in arts education has taught us. You dive in, you get confronted with new things, you work harder, you learn, and grow. I’m so proud of PNB being a part of Seattle Public Schools’ new Creative Advantage arts education initiative; the ability to reach more students, teachers, parents, and communities, is there. Every student should have access to an arts education, to know that dance is a part of them. Movement is innate to us as humans, dance is not exclusive, and it belongs to all of us. Through the Creative Advantage we are working so that every student can dance. Is our team ready to dance with them?

To which I can only respond in true, back-to-school spirit: Yes, let’s begin.

Photo: PNB Community Education Programs Assistant Ana Maria Campoy leading a behind-the-scenes tour. Photo © Lindsay Thomas

10 Things You Need To Know About Justin Peck

By (Pacific Northwest Ballet)
Thursday, Oct 09 at 3:18 PM

10. Recently named New York City Ballet’s Resident Choreographer (he’s the second person to hold this title)

9. Made Buzzfeed’s list for “37 Dreamy Ballet Boys You’ll Want to Dance With” (#12)

8. Works debuting this season at New York City Ballet, Miami City Ballet and, of course, PNB

7. Stars in a new documentary film titled “Ballet 422” that shadows Peck while he creates the company’s 422nd original piece while also fulfilling his role as a Corps de Ballet member

6. Has done two collaborations with Sufjan Stevens, “The Year of the Rabbit” and “Everywhere We Go

5. PNB previewing Debonair, Justin's new work for PNB at New York City's Joyce Theater this week

4. Did not start taking ballet lessons until the age of 13

3. Is a soloist with the New York City Ballet

2. He is on Instagram - follow him!

1. 20% OFF tickets to Director’s Choice (Nov 7-16), just for you! Click to buy.

Photos: Justin Peck and PNB Company Dancers rehearsing Debonair © Lindsay Thomas. Justin Peck © Paul Kolnik 0 Comments

Peter Boal Announces Two Promotions at "Jewels" Opening Night.

By (Josh Rowland)
Friday, Sep 26 at 7:50 PM

Jerome Tisserand in Kent Stowell's Swan Lake. © Angela Sterling.
Seattle, WA – Before the curtain rose on Pacific Northwest Ballet’s season-opening performance of George Balanchine’s Jewels, PNB Artistic Director Peter Boal made a special announcement to the audience. “It gives me great pleasure to announce two well-deserved promotions.” To hearty rounds of applause, Mr. Boal informed the audience that soloist Jerome Tisserand has been promoted to principal dancer, and Leta Biasucci has moved from the corps de ballet to the rank of soloist.

Jerome Tisserand has performed almost every male principal role in our vast repertoire, from Franz to Romeo to Siegfried and tomorrow he adds a Diamond to his impressive collection,” said Mr. Boal. “He is every bit the Prince with an equal command of the contemporary. Last spring, dancing opposite Kaori Nakamura on opening night of Giselle, he gave us a portrayal of Albrecht that was not only technically thrilling but also dramatically nuanced and on that night, he became an unofficial principal dancer. Tonight let’s make it official. Please join me in congratulating PNB’s newest principal, Jerome Tisserand.”

Mr. Tisserand is from Lyon, France. He trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School, with Pascale Courdioux in Lyon, and at the School of American Ballet. He joined Miami City Ballet as an apprentice in 2006. Mr. Tisserand joined Pacific Northwest Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet in 2007 and was promoted to soloist in 2012. Mr. Tisserand won second prize at the 2003 Dance Festival of Artists in Nyon, Switzerland, and first prize in the 2004 Prix Carpeaux in Valenciennes, France.

Leta Biasucci in Diamonds. Photo © Lindsay Thomas

Stated Mr. Boal in his announcement: “Leta Biasucci has been turning heads since her arrival in our Company three years ago. In her first year with the Company, she stepped easily into the role of the up-and-comer in Christopher Wheeldon’s Variations Sèrieuses, and knocked our socks off in her debut as the insouciant Swanilda in Coppélia. She offers a potent combination of technique, musicality, and presence that seems to defy her pint-sized proportions. With a stunning debut as Aurora last February, I knew we had a ballerina in the making or perhaps just a ballerina in need of a promotion. Seen tonight as the lead in Rubies, please join me in congratulating Leta Biasucci on her well-deserved promotion to soloist.”

Ms. Biasucci is from Carlisle, Pennsylvania. She studied under Marcia Dale Weary at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and became a trainee at San Francisco Ballet School in 2006. She joined Oregon Ballet Theatre in 2008. Ms. Biasucci joined Pacific Northwest Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet in 2011.

Prior to the opening night announcements, Mr. Boal also hired Dylan Wald to join the Company as an apprentice.

Mr. Wald is from Minneapolis, Minnesota. He studied at Minnesota Dance Theatre & the Dance Institute, where he became an apprentice in 2012, and at Pacific Northwest Ballet School. He attended summer courses at PNB School, the School of American Ballet, The Juilliard School, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. While a student at PNB School, Mr. Wald performed corps de ballet roles in Company performances of George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Peter Boal’s Giselle, Ronald Hynd’s The Sleeping Beauty, Crystal Pite’s Emergence, and Kent Stowell’s Nutcracker. He performed a leading role in Kyle Davis’ Sylvia for PNB School’s Annual School Performance, and a leading role in Bruce Wells’ Pinocchio. He also originated roles in ballets by Angelica Generosa and Jahna Frantziskonis, Price Suddarth, and Ezra Thomson for PNB’s annual NEXT STEP choreographers’ showcase.

PNB congratulates our newly promoted and hired dancers!

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Pacific Northwest Ballet, one of the largest and most highly regarded ballet companies in the United States, was founded in 1972. In July 2005, Peter Boal became artistic director, succeeding Kent Stowell and Francia Russell, artistic directors since 1977. The Company of nearly fifty dancers presents more than 100 performances each year of full-length and mixed repertory ballets at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall in Seattle and on tour. The Company has toured to Europe, Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Canada, and throughout the United States, with celebrated appearances at Jacob's Pillow and in New York City and Washington DC.

George Balanchine’s Jewels™ was made possible by Bob & Cynthia Benson and Peter & Peggy Horvitz, with the support of Van Cleef & Arpels, Neiman Marcus, and HSBC. Pacific Northwest Ballet’s 2014-2015 Season is proudly sponsored by ArtsFund and Microsoft Corporation.

PNB Publicity Contact
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Pacific Northwest Ballet
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