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, and Artistic Director the first 5 months of 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.