Karel Cruz in a photo shoot for Alexei Ratmansky’s Don Quixote, photo © Angela Sterling.

Cruz’s 16-year career with PNB to be honored at Season Encore Performance, June 10, 2018.

Pacific Northwest Ballet Artistic Director Peter Boal has announced that principal dancer Karel Cruz will retire at the end of PNB’s Paris tour. A much-respected and admired member of the Company since 2002, Mr. Cruz will devote his post-PNB career to further developing Solu, the professional dancewear line created with his wife, PNB principal dancer Lindsi Dec. He will also continue coaching and giving private lessons to aspiring dancers. Mr. Cruz’s acclaimed career will be celebrated at PNB’s Season Encore Performance on Sunday, June 10, 2018, during which he and Ms. Dec will perform the pas de deux from Alexei Ratmansky’s Don Quixote. (Tickets are on sale now through the PNB Box Office: See “Ticket Information,” below.)

“Karel Cruz is the epitome of chivalry,” said Mr. Boal in his announcement. “His thoughtful care of his partners and fellow performers is evident in every role he performs. Though more willing to make sure others shine in the spotlight, when Karel steps forward for his variation, impeccable classical technique and thrilling bravura emerge. Karel has been a mainstay of Pacific Northwest Ballet for many years; Audiences are aware of his tremendous strengths, but they may not know how he helps and mentors fellow dancers and students in the studio. From the roles he dances to the role model he is, Karel is an inspiration. We are so grateful for all he has given us.”

Karel Cruz is from Holguin, Cuba, and received his training at Cuba’s Escuela Nacional de Artes. He joined Ballet Nacional de Cuba in 1996 and left in 1998 to join Ballet Clasico de Camara in Venezuela. From 1999 to 2000, he danced with Teatro Teresa Carreno, also in Venezuela. After coming to the United States, Mr. Cruz spent a year at The Rock School for Dance Education (Philadelphia, PA) before joining Pacific Northwest Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet in 2002. He was promoted to soloist in 2007 and principal in 2009.

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Karel Cruz and Lesley Rausch in George Balanchine’s Diamonds, photo © Angela Sterling.

In announcing his retirement, Mr. Cruz said, “I never thought my career would end up the way that it has,” said Mr. Cruz. “I have gotten to dance such beautiful ballets I never dreamt I would do growing up in Cuba. I am incredibly grateful and fulfilled with my career at PNB and have appreciated the love and support from our organization, the dancers, our audience, and especially my wife, who has been here with me every moment.”

Karel Cruz and Lindsi Dec in Jiri Killian’s Petit Mort, photo © Angela Sterling.

Solu was created by Ms. Dec and Mr. Cruz to give dancers a confident and positive mindset with what they wear. “Being dancers ourselves, staring in the mirror for hours, what we wore to rehearsals made a difference with how we danced – garments that followed the fluidity of our movements and catered to the versatility of jumping, turning, and partnering – were forefront. We wanted to create a line of dancewear for every type of dancer — to provide a unique, edgy yet elegant look to which dancers could relate. We started off with a few different style leotards and have now added men’s tights, and a convertible rehearsal shirt and warmup romper, with many more new products coming in the future. We are proud that our products are made in the USA and we are so grateful for our Solu team that has helped us in spreading the word to wear Solu.” For more information, visit or on Facebook or Instagram at @wearsolu.

Seed money for Solu came from Second Stage, PNB’s career transition program for its company dancers. Conceived in 1999, Second Stage supports PNB dancers in achieving their goals following a career in dance. Its resources allow dancers to take classes, access mentors and vocation counseling, and receive grants. At its inception, only a handful of dancers actively planned for their career after dance. Since that time, Second Stage has provided nearly $950,000 in grants to nearly 200 dancers. For more information, visit, and click on “Second Stage.”

Karel Cruz in George Balanchine’s Agon, photo © Angela Sterling.


Karel Cruz has danced leading roles in George Balanchine’s Agon, Apollo, Concerto Barocco, Coppélia (Discord and War), Diamonds, Emeralds, The Four Temperaments, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker® (Cavalier), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Divertissement pas de deux, Theseus, Cavalier), Prodigal Son, Serenade, Symphony in C, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, and La Valse; Peter Boal’s Giselle (Albrecht); Val Caniparoli’s The Bridge; David Dawson’s Empire Noir; Ulysses Dove’s Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven and Serious Pleasures; Nacho Duato’s Jardí Tancat; William Forsythe’s Artifact II, Slingerland Duet and New Suite; Paul Gibson’s The Piano Dance and Sense of Doubt; Ronald Hynd’s The Merry Widow and The Sleeping Beauty (Prince Florimund, Gold and Silver pas de trois); Jiri Kylian’s Forgotten Land and Petite Mort; Edwaard Laing’s Für Alina; Stacy Lowenberg’s Rushed Goodbye; Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Roméo et Juliette (Friar Laurence); Benjamin Millepied’s Appassionata; Mark Morris’ Pacific; Margaret Mullin’s Lost in Light; Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Cylindrical Shadows; Justin Peck’s Year of the Rabbit; Toni Pimble’s Two’s Company; Crystal Pite’s Emergence and Plot Point; Yuri Possokhov’s RAkU (Samurai); Alexei Ratmansky’s Concerto DSCH, Don Quixote (Basilio, Espada), and Pictures at an Exhibition; Jerome Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering, Glass Pieces, In the Night, and West Side Story Suite (Bernardo); Kent Stowell’s Carmina Burana, Cinderella (Prince),  Firebird, Nutcracker (Prince), Swan Lake (Prince Siegfried), and The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet (Tybalt); Richard Tanner’s Ancient Airs and Dances; Lynne Taylor-Corbett’s Mercury; Twyla Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs, Opus 111, and Waterbaby Bagatelles; and Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain pas de deux and Polyphonia. He originated leading roles in Val Caniparoli’s The Seasons, Kiyon Gaines’ M-Pulse and Sum Stravinsky, Paul Gibson’s Mozart Pieces, and Price Suddarth’s Signature.

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Karel Cruz in Jerome Robbins’ West Side Story Suite, photo © Angela Sterling.


Audiences will have several opportunities to catch Mr. Cruz in performances before the end of PNB’s 2017-18 season. He is currently cast in Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain pas de deux, Benjamin Millepied’s Appassionata and Justin Peck’s Year of the Rabbit in LOVE & BALLET, June 1 – 10.

Karel Cruz and Elizabeth Murphy in Benjamin Millepied’s Appassionata, photo © Angela Sterling.

PNB’s Season Encore Performance will be presented one night only, Sunday, June 10 at 6:30 pm. The performance will include a special tribute to Karel Cruz. Additionally, he will be dancing in several works during the company’s upcoming tour to Les Étés de la Danse in Paris, France, June 25 – July 7.

Tickets to LOVE & BALLET and the Season Encore Performance may be purchased by calling the PNB Box Office at 206.441.2424, in person at 301 Mercer Street, or online at (Schedule, programming and casting are subject to change. For up-to-date casting information, check performance details on

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Karel Cruz and Carla Korbes in Alexei Ratmansky’s Don Quixote, photo © Angela Sterling.