Pacific Northwest Ballet Dancers Ezra Thomson and James Kirby Rogers Announce Departures

The curtain comes down on Pacific Northwest Ballet’s 2023-2024 season with its annual Season Encore Performance, a celebratory salute to the season and a fond farewell to departing dancers. PNB Artistic Director Peter Boal has announced the line-up for the one-night-only program, which will feature PNB’s Company, along with the world-famous PNB Orchestra under the baton of Music Director/Principal Conductor Emil de Cou, performing works by George Balanchine, Marco Goecke, Jessica Lang, Jean-Christophe Maillot, and Jerome Robbins.

James Kirby Rogers performs in The Window, reaching expressivly up while in a low arabesque.

In addition to the previously-announced retirements of principal dancer James Yoichi Moore and rehearsal director Otto Neubert, the Season Encore Performance will also be the audience’s opportunity to offer a fond farewell to departing principal dancer James Kirby Rogers, who will also be leaving PNB to take a job with Semperoper Ballet in Dresden, Germany. Mr. Rogers joined PNB as a soloist in 2021 and was promoted to principal dancer in 2022.

“James Kirby Rogers has been an unexpected gift to PNB,” stated PNB Artistic Director Peter Boal. “Though we wish his tenure could be extended, we also understand his singular talent and artistry deserve to be seen by audiences everywhere. His selfless and thoughtful partnering gave no hint of the bravura that followed in his variations and coda. At home in works by Cerrudo, Dove, King, Lang, Pite, Petipa, Ratmansky and Rowe, James is an artist of the first order. We are lucky he graced our stage and elevated our community. May he continue to soar in his next adventure.”

James Kirby Rogers (he/him) is from San Francisco, California. He trained at the North Carolina School of the Arts, where he was a YAGP finalist in 2014. He attended summer courses at San Francisco Ballet and Houston Ballet. He joined Houston Ballet II in 2015 and Kansas City Ballet in 2016. Mr. Kirby Rogers joined Pacific Northwest Ballet as a soloist in 2021 and was promoted to principal in 2022.

While at PNB, Mr. Kirby Rogers performed leading and featured roles in George Balanchine’s Coppélia, Diamonds, The Nutcracker, Allegro Brillante, Duo Concertant, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Peter Boal’s Giselle; Donald Byrd’s Love and Loss; Alejandro Cerrudo’s Silent Ghost; Ulysses Dove’s Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven; Alexander Eckman’s Cacti; Jiří Kylián’s Petite Mort and Sechs Tänze (Six Dances); Edwaard Liang’s The Veil Between Worlds; Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Roméo et Juliette; Crystal Pite’s Plot Point and The Seasons’ Canon; Kent Stowell’s Swan Lake and Carmina Burana; and Twyla Tharp’s Brief Fling. He originated roles in Alejandro Cerrudo’s Black on Black on Black, Alonzo King’s The Personal Element, Jessica Lang’s Let Me Mingle Tears With Thee, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Khepri, Alexei Ratmansky’s Wartime Elegy, Dwight Rhoden’s Catching Feelings, Kiyon Ross’ …throes of increasing wonder, and Dani Row’s The Window.

Mr. Kirby Rogers is also the co-founder of Creative Intersections, a Kansas City-based dance festival.

The Season Encore will also be Ezra Thomson’s final performance as a soloist, before he assumes his new role as rehearsal director at the start of next season. After studying in the PNB School, Mr. Thomson joined the company as an apprentice in 2009. He was promoted to corps de ballet in 2010 and soloist in 2017.

“We are excited to welcome Ezra to the Artistic team,” said Kiyon Ross, PNB Associate Artistic Director. “Over the years Ezra has proven himself to be an excellent stager and coach with our company dancers as well as our PNB School students. While we will miss his performances on our stage, we are thrilled he will remain an integral part of the PNB family. Please join us in welcoming Ezra as our newest Rehearsal Director.”

Against a deep blue background, Ezra Thomson leaps on stage performing in The Veil Between Worlds.

Ezra Thomson is from San Bernardino, California. He studied on scholarship at Riverside Ballet Arts, Orlando Ballet School, and Pacific Northwest Ballet School and attended summer courses at Pacific Northwest Ballet School, the School of American Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, National Ballet School (Canada), the Rock School, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and Burklyn Ballet Theatre. Mr. Thomson was a 2009 recipient of the Flemming Halby Exchange with the Royal Danish Ballet School. He danced with Orlando Ballet before joining Pacific Northwest Ballet as an apprentice in 2009. He was promoted to corps de ballet in 2010 and soloist in 2017.

While at PNB, Mr. Thomson performed leading and featured roles in George Balanchine’s Agon, Coppélia, The Nutcracker, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Prodigal Son, and Allegro Brillante; Peter Boal’s Giselle; Alejandro Cerrudo’s Little Mortal Jump; Nacho Duato’s Rassemblement; Alexander Eckman’s Cacti; William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated and New Suite; Paul Gibson’s The Piano Dance; Ronald Hynd’s The Sleeping Beauty; Jiří Kylián’s Forgotten Land, Petite Mort, and Sechs Tänze (Six Dances); Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Cylindrical Shadows; Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Roméo et Juliette; Susan Marshall’s Arms; Benjamin Millepied’s 3 Movements; Justin Peck’s The Times Are Racing; Crystal Pite’s Emergence, Plot Point, and The Seasons’ Canon; Victor Quijada’s Suspension of Disbelief; Alexei Ratmansky’s Concerto DSCH; Jerome Robbins’ The Concert, Fancy Free, In the Night, and West Side Story Suite; Kiyon Ross’ Sum Stravinsky; Kent Stowell’s Carmina Burana, Cinderella, Nutcracker, and Swan Lake; Susan Stroman’s TAKE FIVE … More or Less; Twyla Tharp’s Afternoon Ball, Brief Fling, Nine Sinatra Songs, and Waiting at the Station; and Christopher Wheeldon’s Polyphonia and Tide Harmonic. He originated roles in Andrew Bartee’s arms that work and Dirty Goods; Donald Byrd’s And the sky is not cloudy all day and Love and Loss; Alejandro Cerrudo’s Memory Glow; Marco Goecke’s Place a Chill; Jessica Lang’s Her Door to the Sky; Edwaard Liang’s The Veil Between Worlds; Amanda Morgan’s This Space Left Intentionally Blank; Mark Morris’ Kammermusik No. 3; Justin Peck’s Debonair; Miles Pertl’s Wash of Gray; Victor Quijada’s Mating Theory; Alexei Ratmansky’s Wartime Elegy; Kiyon Ross’ …throes of increasing wonder; Eva Stone’s F O I L; and Price Suddarth’s The Intermission Project and Signature.

In 2007, Mr. Thomson won the gold medal in the regional Youth America Grand Prix competition.

Additionally, Mr. Thomson has choreographed works for Pacific Northwest Ballet’s NEXT STEP and Pacific Northwest Ballet School’s annual School Performance. In 2016, he choreographed Stinger for Sculptured Dance, a collaboration between Pacific Northwest Ballet and Seattle Art Museum presented at Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park. In 2018, he choreographed The Perpetual State for Pacific Northwest Ballet. In 2021, he choreographed and originated a role in Salt of the Earth for PNB’s digital Season Encore performance.

Season Encore provides the ultimate milestone moment at Pacific Northwest Ballet,” says Mr. Boal. “How do you capture the gratitude we all feel for a dancer whose twenty-year tenure is coming to a close on that very night? How do you properly thank a Rehearsal Director for their tireless and profound contribution after thirty-two years? How do you bid farewell to a beloved season? Cue the cheers, tears, flowers and fanfare, and come share the joy that defines and bonds our PNB family. Grab a friend and a handful of tissues and join us for this year’s Season Encore.”

Celebrate PNB’s departing dancers at Season Encore on June 9, 2024. Click here to purchase tickets.

Photo credits: Featured photo – PNB Company dancers in Kent Stowell’s Swan Lake, photo © Angela Sterling. Ezra Thomson, photo © Angela Sterling. James Kirby Rogers, photo © Angela Sterling. James Kirby Rogers in Dani Rowe’s The Window, photo © Angela Sterling. Ezra Thomson in Edwaard Liang’s The Veil Between Worlds, photo © Lindsay Thomas.