A Day in the Life of a Professional Division Student: Rehearsing Swan Lake

This past month, all of PNB has been busy preparing for Swan Lake. Joining the Company dancers in rehearsals are some of PNB School’s Professional Division (PD) students, who are advanced students elevating their training to the next level. The PD Program is designed to help students transition from student to professional dancer by perfecting their technique and developing artistry. Performing is an important part of the program, and many PD’s look forward to dancing alongside PNB’s Company dancers on the McCaw Hall Stage. 

Sofia Bidne is one such student, and she’s been selected to perform in Swan Lake this season! Originally from Texas, Sofia trained with Dallas Ballet Center and danced in their pre-professional company for 5 years. Following PNB’s 2022 Summer Course, she was invited to join PNB’s PD program, and is now in her second year here. We sat down with Sofia to chat about her daily routine while rehearsing Swan Lake.


Sofia starts her day around 7:00 AM, when she wakes up, does her hair, and eats breakfast. Typically, she’ll pack a lunch, so she doesn’t have to leave the Phelps Center on one of her short breaks. After getting the rest of her things ready to go, she leaves for 8:30 AM class! 

Sofia’s full day of dance begins with technique class from 8:30-10:00 AM. Members of PNB’s faculty, including artistic director Peter Boal, former PNB Principal dancer Carrie Imler, and Dana Hanson teach class. Technique class is a chance for Sofia to refine her technique and “push to the next step of becoming a professional dancer.” She focuses on things like artistry, turnout, and extensions in class. This is Sofia’s last year in the PD program, so she’s focused on “getting the most out of class” while she still can.


Typically, Sofia and the other professional division students would have another class like Modern, Pointe, or Pas de Deux next. But during Swan Lake, things are a bit different! After an hour break, Sofia has a rehearsal with the company practicing the role of Swan with the corps of 24 swans from 11:00 to 1:00. Because the Swan role is so intricate, a PD-only Swan rehearsal is next on Sofia’s schedule. In these rehearsals, Sofia says “we get the attention and focus that the PDs need to be at the professional level of our colleagues, the company members.” 

The role of Swan “is one of the most technical Corps de Ballet roles I’ve ever done,” says Sofia. “In Nutcracker, it’s more free. When you’re a Flower, each person can be a little bit more individual… But for Swans, everyone’s fingers have to be the same. You have to look so uniform. That’s been a learning experience for sure to make sure I’m in line and my feet are the exact same width away from the person behind me.”


After her last rehearsal, which ends at 6:00 PM, Sofia will head home. To recover from her long day of ballet, she’ll fill a bucket with warm water and Epsom salts and soak her feet for a bit. When she’s ready, she’ll make dinner, and she might go to the top of Queen Anne, sit, and watch the sunset, which is her favorite way to relax. Depending on the night, Sofia will study her roles a bit more before heading to bed to start her next day strong.

Preparing to dance in Swan Lake alongside the company has been a valuable experience for Sofia. “I’ve grown and matured in my Corps work. It’s something ballet class doesn’t really teach you: to work together, breathe together, dance together.” Her musicality has also improved, “the music of Swan Lake is THE most beautiful.” Sofia loves performing and is charmingly appreciative of her experience performing with PNB’s company. “What an amazing opportunity it is to get to dance on stage with them.”

Learn more about PNB’s Professional Division Program here.

Bio: Sofia grew up in Dallas, Texas. She trained at Dallas Ballet Center and danced in their pre-professional company for 5 years. While there, she danced in world premieres by renowned choreographers Christina Ghiardi, Silas Farley, and Jason Fowler. She also performed many classic roles including Odette in Swan Lake in 2022. 

Sofia spent summers training at the School of American Ballet, Ballet West, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and the European School of Ballet. During the PNB School summer course of 2022 she was invited to join the Professional Division program. As a PD dancer, under the leadership of Peter Boal, she has performed both ballets and contemporary pieces with the Company. Performances have included Crystal Pite’s The Seasons’ Canon, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®, Giselle, George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and now Kent Stowell’s Swan Lake

Outside of ballet Sofia auditioned and made her high school’s country western stunt and dance team, The Wranglers. She also enjoys spending time with friends, hiking, watching the sunset, and documenting life through photography. 

Photo credits: Sofia Bidne, photos © Lindsay Thomas. PNB Company Dancers and PNB School Professional Division students in rehearsal, photo © Lindsay Thomas. Other photos courtesy of Sofia Bidne.