Director’s Notebook: F O I L, Love and Loss, Wash of Gray

I’m not from here. But not long after I arrived almost 15 years ago, I felt I was home. Cascadia has a long history of people like me who arrived and claimed this land as their home. The land already belonged to others (since about 8000 BCE, ancestors of the Duwamish Tribe inhabited the land we now occupy; please read more at As we acknowledge and reconcile territories, treaties, and trespasses of the past, we each celebrate what we love about the land we inhabit and the community we are part of.

I could use every word in this column to list what I enjoy about this region starting with Alki beach, where my wife and I walk on most weekends, watching Duwamish canoes, bobbing seals, and playful pups, while distant ferries glide to and from Whidbey, Bainbridge, and Blake Islands. Local wines, craft beers, coffee houses, and culinary triumphs remind me of the ingenuity and unparalleled resources of the Pacific Northwest.

The term “Locally Sourced” gets thrown around a lot, but it’s an important concept for any community to recognize. Beyond farmers’ markets, downtown art, or the tech giants, looking locally is becoming not only an antidote to climate change, but also an important pat on the back. Very little jet fuel was used to present this program, and the contributors we’ve assembled from the greater Seattle area are as good as any we’ve imported from distant shores.

There are dozens of innovative artists contributing to the three world premieres you are about to see. Many are PNB regulars from our costume shop, production department, orchestra, and Company. We can only list a few of these talented and essential people in our program, so I invite and encourage you to visit our website to read more about each of them. They deserve the recognition. You’ll find names of institutions that appear throughout these bios, representing essential parts of our cultural landscape—names like Cornish, Velocity, Gage, Seattle Art Museum, St. Mark’s Cathedral, Seattle Opera, University of Washington, Au Collective, Spectrum Dance Theater, and Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Eva Stone is part of the very fabric of Seattle dance. She founded CHOP SHOP: Bodies of Work, an annual dance showcase offered each spring on the Eastside. She teaches young talents at Spectrum Dance Theater and Pacific Northwest Ballet School, including our new choreography class for young women. She’s choreographed dozens of works all over the place. We are so proud to present F O I L, her first work for the Company. Please read about her team, including her five female composers.

Donald Byrd is another Seattle icon—icon, as in retrospective-at-a-major-museum icon. It’s true—head for the Frye Art Museum if you don’t believe me. A beautiful performer, a provocative choreographer, influencer, activist, artist, and all-around refreshing thinker, Donald has been pushing the envelope in Seattle since he arrived almost twenty years ago. His work has been seen at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, on Broadway (The Color Purple), with Joffrey Ballet, Philadanco, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Seattle Opera, and in his own Seattle-based contemporary company, Spectrum Dance Theater. Never afraid to tackle subjects like race and social justice, Donald is an in-your-face choreographer who feels like the perfect antidote to our world today.

Miles Pertl grew up right here in Seattle. He started as an Irish step dancer studying in Georgetown before finding ballet at our School. We’ll forgive him for heading to Europe for a few years to dance with major ballet companies like Stuttgart Ballet and Dutch National Ballet. He came to his senses, returning home to Seattle and his family, including his sister Sydney, who’s been a major collaborator on his new work, Wash of Gray. Sydney and Miles have curated an art exhibit in the lobby of the theater showcasing 75 under-represented artists from throughout our community. They ran with the concept of local. Yes, the title refers to that essential Seattle ingredient. Yes, that’s rain on stage. Yes, this is Seattle.

So when you’re admiring flowers or produce from local farms at Pike Place Market or distant orcas, towering Sitka spruce, or the Space Needle, think about your local ballet company and what an amazing resource we have right here in our own backyard. We’re local, we’re awesome, and we’re proud. Thanks for celebrating Seattle.

Peter Boal