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.

Peter Welcomes Don Quixote

By (Pacific Northwest Ballet)
Friday, Jan 30 at 3:56 PM

PNB Company Dancers  © Angela Sterling

Dear Friends,

Don Quixote is honestly one of the greatest productions PNB presents. It’s funny, heartwarming, visually stunning and full of the extraordinary dancing our audiences relish. We’ve been having a blast in the studio over the past several weeks and now we’re ready to bring you the fruits of our labor. Here are a few facts about Don Quixote that you may not know.

Yes, it all arrives on nine shipping containers from Amsterdam. As a point of reference, the Stowell/Sendak Nutcracker fits on two shipping containers.

300 costumes (125-150 used per performance), 30 wigs, 50 specialty hair pieces, 103 roles. You get the picture.

Alexei went back to the original 1869 Moscow production in which the story of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza was as important as the story of Kitri and Basilio. This allowed him to include the scenes with the man in the moon, the cacti and the monsters, as well as all of the antics of the Don and Sancho.

Elizabeth Murphy, Rachel Foster and Tom Skerritt with PNB Company Dancers © Angela Sterling

We have two casts of Don Quixote; Tom Skerritt and Otto Neubert, and two casts of Sancho, Allan Galli and Jonathan Porretta. In Holland, the Dutch National Ballet hired two local comics called Maxi and Minnie to play these roles.

There are five Kitris with role debuts for Lindsi Dec and Elizabeth Murphy and five Basilios with a role debut for William Lin-Yee.
Elizabeth Murphy and Seth Orza © Lindsay Thomas

On Saturday night, the role of the beggar will be played by Glenn Kawaski. The dancers have been instructed not to give Glenn any money; he’ll just donate it to PNB.

When Chelsea Adomaitis plays Joanna, she actually knits on the balcony.

Our crew pulled an all-nighter to build these sets in time for opening night.

PNB now has three ballets in our repertoire with designs by Jerome Kaplan. Don Quixote’s one of them. Can you name the other two?

We look forward to sharing Don Quixote with you this weekend and next. Once you've seen the show, spread the word. We don't want anyone to miss it.

Peter Boal
Artistic Director
Pacific Northwest Ballet

Tom Skerritt, Allen Galli, and PNB Company Dancers © Angela Sterling


11 Things You Need to Know About Tom Skerritt

By (Pacific Northwest Ballet)
Friday, Jan 16 at 5:04 PM

  • In the late ‘80s he was the poster boy for Guess Jeans

  • Reunited with the cast of Aliento provide voice over (for Captain Dallas, naturally) for the video game Alien: Isolation

  • Ranked in People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People in the World (circa 1993)

  • Has appeared in more than 40 films and 200 TV episodes

  • Played Sherriff Jimmy Brock on Picket Fences

  • Had 4 weeks of ballet training for his role of Wayne in the movie The Turning Point (he’s also rehearsing with PNB for 4 weeks for his role as Don Quixote)

  • Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job! wrote a jingle about Tom Skerritt

  • Tom will perform the role of Don Quixote at the following performances:
    • Friday, Jan 30 at 7:30
    • Saturday, Jan 31 at 7:30
    • Thursday, Feb 5 at 7:30
    • Friday, Feb 6 at 7:30
    • Saturday, Feb 7 at 1
    • Saturday, Feb 7 at 7:30
    • Sunday, Feb 8 at 7

  • His trademark is his mustache

  • Plays the motorcycle cop in Harold and Maude but billed in the credits as M. Borman

  • Helped found TheFilmSchool in Seattle where he regularly teaches

Need more Tom? Watch this video of him and Carla Körbes talking about the acting skills he brings to Don Quixote


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

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