Pacific Northwest Ballet Principal Dancer James Yoichi Moore Announces Retirement

A dancer stands looking over their shoulder on a black stage in a long, dramatic white skirt.

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer James Yoichi Moore has announced that after a 20-year career with the company, he is retiring at the end of PNB’s 2023-24 season. Moore joined Pacific Northwest Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet in 2004 and was promoted to soloist in 2008 and principal in 2013. His two decades with the company will be celebrated at the Season Encore Performance, Sunday, June 9 at McCaw Hall. Tickets to the Season Encore Performance, as well as the remainder of PNB’s 2023-24 season, are available through the PNB Box Office, 206.441.2424, online at, or in person at 301 Mercer Street.

“Growing up in San Francisco, I would hear people talk about this incredible ballet company up north, with six-foot-tall ballerinas and dancers with impeccable technique,” said Moore in his announcement. “Never did I imagine I’d have a shot to join their ranks, but in 2004, Kent and Francia offered me a contract, and everything changed. I am forever grateful to them for giving me a chance to be a part of this great organization.

“The past 20 years have flown by in a flash. Every season filled with challenges, exhaustion, and thrill – key components for a supremely fulfilling dance career. I wish I could live the life of a PNB dancer forever, but I knew this day would come, and as I near my final performance, my gratitude for our company, and everyone who contributes to creating the magic on stage grows.

“I’ve been extremely fortunate to have a director who’s believed in me from the beginning. As a student, and throughout my career, Peter’s trust filled me with motivation, bolstered me with confidence, and gave me the belief that I belonged. I am thankful beyond words.”

“James Moore elevated PNB in every way over the course of a long and storied career,” said PNB Artistic Director Peter Boal. “The explosion of raw talent and presence that stepped, or rather shuffled, onto the stage in 2005 in Marco Goecke’s Mopey signaled a new era for the company. James had a quality that reflected us – and yet he was the best of us, with soul bared, emotions raw, living in the moment and discovering infinite possibilities before our eyes. His Romeo and Prodigal Son pulled us into the futile realm of hope while his rhythm-infused romps as the father in Twyla Tharp’s Waiting at the Station offered a new lens on humanity. Not only did he inspire countless choreographers, he inspired all who witnessed his complete investment in character, art, and movement. It’s hard to imagine PNB without James, but he promises to continue to be a part of this family he helped create, and I promise to hold him to it.”

Moore and his wife, Kristen, recently opened two Tutu Schools in Renton and Tacoma. (Tutu School is a boutique-style ballet school that caters specifically to children 18 months to eight years old.)

“We are thrilled to continue a life in dance by offering the opportunity for young children to experience music and movement through our Tutu Schools in Renton and Tacoma,” said Moore. “Our kids, Julian and Layla show us every day the positive impact dance can have on young people’s lives, and they have inspired us to share this gift.” For more info, visit or

“James Moore had a career-defining moment and played a pivotal role in ushering in Peter Boal’s contemporary vision to PNB audiences with his performances of Mopey by Marco Goeke,” noted former PNB principal dancer Noelani Pantastico, Moore’s frequent onstage partner, and Co-Artistic Director of Seattle Dance Collective, the company they founded in 2019. “After Mopey, it was clear that James had a spirit that transcended the stage and left audiences returning to see him in his range of programming. I was lucky enough to forge a partnership with James, one that, while dancing together, was hard to explain to anyone. We were just enmeshed. Beyond the stage, we created Seattle Dance Collective, which taught us how to build and run a nonprofit organization and helped us survive the pandemic while nurturing our artistic voices and voices for others. I have no doubt that audiences and colleagues will miss him. There is no one like James Moore. His generosity and thoughtfulness as a dancer, partner, and person make James memorable to everyone who has had the fortune of being in the same space as him. James leaves an indelible mark that has helped shape what PNB is today.”

Early seed money for Moore’s Tutu Schools was provided, in part, by Second Stage, PNB’s career transition program for its company dancers. Conceived in 1999, Second Stage supports PNB dancers and PNB School Professional Division students in achieving their goals following a career in dance. Its resources allow dancers to take classes, get subsidized tuition at Seattle University, access mentors and vocation counseling, and receive grant monies. At its inception, only a handful of dancers actively planned for their career after dancer. Since that time, Second Stage has provided over $1.5 million in grants to over 200 dancers. For more information, visit

James Yoichi Moore is from San Francisco, California. He trained at San Francisco Ballet School and the School of American Ballet, and he joined Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre in 2001. James joined Pacific Northwest Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet in 2004 and was promoted to soloist in 2008 and principal in 2013.

James has performed leading roles in George Balanchine’s Coppélia, The Four Temperaments, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Prodigal Son, Rubies, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Symphony in C, Symphony in Three Movements; Peter Boal’s Giselle; Val Caniparoli’s The Bridge; Alejandro Cerrudo’s Little mortal jump, One Thousand Pieces, and PACOPEPEPLUTO; Sonia Dawkins’ Ripple Mechanics; Ulysses Dove’s Serious Pleasures; Nacho Duato’s Jardí Tancat and Rassemblement; William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, New Suite, and One Flat Thing, reproduced; Kiyon Gaines’ Sum Stravinsky; Paul Gibson’s The Piano Dance; Ronald Hynd’s The Sleeping Beauty; Jiri Kylian’s Petite Mort and Sechs Tänze (Six Dances); Jessica Lang’s The Calling and Her Door to the Sky; Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Cendrillon and Roméo et Juliette; Susan Marshall’s Kiss; Mark Morris’ Pacific; Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Before After and Cylindrical Shadows; Crystal Pite’s The Seasons’ Canon, Emergence and Plot Point; Brian Reeder’s Lost Language of the Flight Attendant; Alexei Ratmansky’s Pictures at an Exhibition; Jerome Robbins’ Afternoon of a Faun, The Concert, Dances at a Gathering, Fancy Free, Glass Pieces, Opus 19/The Dreamer, and West Side Story Suite; Kent Stowell’s Carmina Burana, Cinderella, Nutcracker, Silver Lining, and Swan Lake; Susan Stroman’s TAKE FIVE…More or Less; Twyla Tharp’s Afternoon Ball, Brief Fling, In the Upper Room, Nine Sinatra Songs, and Waterbaby Bagatelles; and Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain pas de deux, Carousel (A Dance), and Polyphonia. He has also performed Marco Goecke’s solo Mopey and Molissa Fenley’s solo State of Darkness. Mr. Moore originated leading roles in Andrew Bartee’s arms that work, Caniparoli’s The Seasons, Cerrudo’s Memory Glow, Kiyon Gaines’ Do. Not. Obstruct. and Interrupted Pri’si’zhen, Gibson’s Mozart Pieces and Sense of Doubt, Marco Goecke’s Place a Chill, Benjamin Millepied’s 3 Movements, Morris’ Kammermusik No. 3, Justin Peck’s Debonair, Victor Quijada’s Suspension of Disbelief, Price Suddarth’s The Intermission Project, Tharp’s Opus 111 and Waiting at the Station, and Christopher Wheeldon’s Tide Harmonic, and featured roles in Dominique Dumais’ Time and other Matter and Christopher Stowell’s Quick Time.

In 2019, Mr. Moore co-founded Seattle Dance Collective (SDC) with Noelani Pantastico. The initial impetus came from their mutual desire to curate shows enabling them to work directly with certain choreographers and perform specific pieces that, to date, had eluded them. Their mission quickly expanded to include a commitment to create unique opportunities for dancers and choreographers to collaborate for artistic inspiration and growth. For more information, visit

Photo credits: Featured photo – James Yoichi Moore in Marco Goecke’s Mopey, photo © Angela Sterling. James Yoichi Moore in Jessica Lang’s The Calling, photo © Lindsay Thomas. James Yoichi Moore in Jerome Robbins’ Afternoon of a Faun, photo © Angela Sterling. James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico in Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Cendrillon, photo © Angela Sterling. James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico in Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Roméo et Juliette, photo © Angela Sterling. James Yoichi Moore and PNB Company Dancers in Twyla Tharp’s Waiting at the Station, photo © Angela Sterling.