A Day in the Life of a Professional Division Student: Rehearsing The Seasons’ Canon

The Seasons’ Canon, choreographed by Crystal Pite, pushes dancers (and PNB) to the limit. With a large cast of 52 dancers, the piece requires PNB School Professional Division students (PDs) to perform alongside the Company. PNB’s PD Program is designed to help students transition from student to professional dancer by perfecting technique and developing artistry. Performing innovative works like The Seasons’ Canon elevates PD students’ technique to the next level. 

Isaiah Salas, a member of the PD program, is rehearsing The Seasons’ Canon alongside the company. Isaiah’s whole family loves to dance; his parents met dancing! He started his ballet training at age 8 through PNB’s DanceChance program and continued through PNB School to the PD program. Now, Isaiah is focused on elevating his dancing to the next level. While rehearsing The Seasons’ Canon, he’s learned, “Step up. Details matter. No pain, no gain.” Keep reading to learn about Isaiah’s daily routine as he prepares to perform this challenging piece. 


Isaiah likes to sleep as much as possible, so his day starts the evening before. “The night before, I make sure I have my shoes, my clothes, everything in line, so it’s easy and efficient to grab when I wake up.” The first thing Isaiah does in the morning is get dressed, and then, he’ll eat a light breakfast. “I don’t usually eat a lot in the morning cause it makes it difficult to dance.” 

Isaiah gets to the studio around a half hour before his 8:30 AM technique class, so he has time to stretch and warm up his body. In technique class, Isaiah is focusing on the details. “Rehearsing The Seasons’ Canon has taught me to focus on the intricate details. I’ve really been applying what the rehearsal directors tell us in Canon rehearsals to class. The little things build up to bigger things, and those details make the whole thing much more appealing.”


After technique, Isaiah might have a rehearsal for an additional piece. Then, after a strength training class, he has a rehearsal with the other flat-shoe dancers in The Seasons’ Canon for their section. This quick portion of the ballet is fast and explosive. “It’s the most intense two minutes I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s like a marathon compressed into a sprint.”

For Isaiah, the challenge is worth it. “I’ve never had anything that’s pushed me that hard before. It’s tested my character and my will, but I’m not going to let it break me. You just got to keep going, that’s all you can do. I’ve learned pressure builds diamonds, and I’m trying to shine on that stage!”

Late Afternoon

After a break, Isaiah has a rehearsal with the entire cast of The Seasons’ Canon. Having so many people in the piece makes for a powerful experience. “Seeing it come together with the PDs in their line, the company members in their line, and then the other company members running around us all, you’re like, ‘Crystal’s doing wonders today!’” 

It takes slow and tedious rehearsals to achieve the spontaneous (and almost chaotic) quality of The Seasons’ Canon. “If you go too fast, you’ll run into this person; if you go too slow, you’re not going to get there in time and you’re going to block a different line. You have to be on top of your game the entire time.”  That’s why Isaiah has realized it’s important to focus on the details. “Canon is like a clock. Looking inside the clock, there’s all these gears, and you’re like, ‘Whoa that is a lot of stuff.’ But if you focus on one part, and then move to the next part, you see how it all works together.” 


After multiple The Seasons’ Canon rehearsals and an occasional additional rehearsal for another piece, Isaiah finally ends his day at 6:00 PM. Once he gets home, he’ll change immediately out of his sweaty clothes, and hop in the shower. “Sometimes, I’m not even showering for half the shower. I’m just standing there listening to music with the hot water.” Then, he’ll make some dinner, stretch, and relax. 

“Once the evening is done, I’m trying not to think about dance. You have to have other things to do outside of dance to keep you distracted because you can get obsessed with this. Taking a step back is healthy. Too much of anything is bad.” To relax, one of the things Isaiah loves to do is make music. “I get lost in music. I’ll have friends over and I don’t even know they’re over.” He creates lo-fi beats over ethereal sounds, and he enjoys writing lyrics. Fun fact: Isaiah has collaborated with his brother, who’s also in the PD program, on a handful of tracks!

Although it’s been a challenging experience, Isaiah has a lot of takeaways from his experience rehearsing The Seasons’ Canon, including independence. “I’ve learned how to rely on myself much more. I have a newfound sense of confidence. There’s a part at the end where I’m in the front of the line for the final canon. I have nobody to look at. I’m the one who leads it all. It’s a cool dose of adrenaline, and I’ve found a new sense of confidence in doing that.”  

To those considering PNB’s PD program, Isaiah points out how supportive the program is. “We have Company mentors. Company members will give advice on the job and audition process, help you write your resume, and help you write your cover letter. I might be a little bit biased because I grew up here, but this is the place to be!” 

Isaiah ends the interview by saying, “Come see The Seasons’ Canon! It’s sick; really good. Made my mom cry.”

Learn more about PNB’s Professional Division Program here.

Bio: Isaiah Salas was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. He entered the world of ballet through PNB’s DanceChance program at the age of 8. He has trained with PNB School for 10 years and has attended summer courses at PNB, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and the Ailey Camp with Seattle Theater Group. Notable performances include Christopher Wheeldon’s Scenes de Ballet, Pas de Quartre from Raymonda, George Balanchines’s The Nutcracker®, and the role of Harold in Robyn Mineko Williams & Terence Marling’s Harold and the Purple Crayon.

Photo credits: Isaiah Salas in PNB School School Performance, photo © Lindsay Thomas. Isaiah Salas at PNB School Summer Course, © Angela Sterling. Crystal Pite in rehearsal,  photo © Lindsay Thomas. Isaiah Salas and friends, courtesy of Isaiah Salas.