Pacific Northwest Ballet artistic director Peter Boal has announced that principal dancer Rachel Foster will retire at the end of the 2018-19 season. Ms. Foster joined PNB as a member of the corps de ballet in 2002. She was promoted to soloist in 2008 and principal in 2011.

Rachel Foster in a costume fitting with Costume Shop Manager Larae Theige Hascall; photo © Lindsay Thomas.

Ms. Foster’s career will be celebrated at PNB’s Season Encore Performance on Sunday, June 9, 2019, and she can be seen in the upcoming production of George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, April 12 – 21. (See “Ticket Information,” below.)

Rachel Foster as the lead butterfly in A Midsummer Night’s Dreamin 2008; photo © Angela Sterling.

“Rachel’s strengths as a dancer and artist perfectly aligned with the new repertoire I introduced to PNB,” said Mr. Boal in his announcement. “The immediacy she brought to works by Ulysses Dove, Twyla Tharp, Victor Quijada and Christopher Wheeldon helped to establish a new contemporary edge for the Company. At home in all of our story ballets, there seems to have been no role Rachel could not turn into a triumph. We will not forget how she came to vivid life at the opening of Crystal Pite’s Emergence. One of the hardest working dancers in the Company, she is also wonderfully generous to partners and peers. How lucky we have been to enjoy her long and full career and how grateful we are for her performances which helped us to see the art form through a fresh new light.”

Rachel Foster in Kent Stowell’s Cinderella in 2011; photo © Angela Sterling.

“Ballet has always been a part of my life, and since I was a little girl, all I ever wanted was to be a ballerina,” said Ms. Foster. “My life at PNB has surpassed all my ballerina dreams, and I am so grateful for the fulfilling career I’ve had and the countless opportunities to dance such wonderful and diverse roles. It is hard to say goodbye to this part of my life, one that has filled me with so much joy onstage and shared with the audience, and in the studio with my colleagues and friends. PNB has been my home, it is where I met my husband, Le [Yin, former principal dancer, now on PNB School faculty], who has given me the greatest gift in life, our daughter Lily, both of whom have been my biggest supporters. It’s time for me to retire and allow other dancers to have the opportunities I’ve enjoyed on stage at PNB. I’m looking forward to staying home with Lily next year, her last at home before starting kindergarten. I want to give special thanks to Peter Boal for paving this path, believing in me, and giving me all of these wonderful experiences I will cherish always.”

Rachel Foster with Benjamin Griffiths in Rubies in 2017; photo © Angela Sterling.

Rachel Foster is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She trained at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School and attended summer courses at the School of American Ballet and San Francisco Ballet School. She joined Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre in 1998, and later joined Pacific Northwest Ballet in 2002.

Rachel Foster with James Yoichi Moore in Afternoon of a Faun in 2018; photo © Angela Sterling.

Ms. Foster has danced leading roles in George Balanchine’s Agon, Coppélia, Emeralds, The Four Temperaments, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Rubies, Square Dance, Symphony in C, and Symphony in Three Movements; Peter Boal’s Giselle; Todd Bolender’s Souvenirs; Val Caniparoli’s The Bridge, Lambarena, and Torque; Ulysses Dove’s Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven, Red Angels, Serious Pleasures, and Vespers; Nacho Duato’s Jardí Tancat and Rassemblement; William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, New Suite, One Flat Thing, reproduced, and The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude; Paul Gibson’s The Piano Dance; Ronald Hynd’s The Sleeping Beauty; Jiri Kylian’s Forgotten Land, Petite Mort, and Sechs Tänze (Six Dances); Jessica Lang’s Her Door to the Sky; Edwaard Liang’s Für Alina; Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Cendrillon and Roméo et Juliette; Benjamin Millepied’s 3 Movements; Robyn Mineko Williams’ The Trees The Trees; Crystal Pite’s Emergence; Alexei Ratmansky’s Concerto DSCH, Don Quixote, and Pictures at an Exhibition; Brian Reeder’s Lost Language of the Flight Attendant; Jerome Robbins’ Afternoon of a Faun, The Concert, Dances at a Gathering, Glass Pieces, and Opus 19/The Dreamer; Kent Stowell’s Carmina Burana, Cinderella, Nutcracker, Silver Lining, and Swan Lake; Twyla Tharp’s 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. She has also performed Molissa Fenley’s solo State of Darkness. She originated leading roles in Caniparoli’s The Seasons, Alejandro Cerrudo’s Memory Glow, Kiyon Gaines’ M-Pulse, Gibson’s Sense of Doubt, Victor Quijada’s Mating Theory and Suspension of Disbelief, Tharp’s Opus 111, Wheeldon’s Tide Harmonic, and featured roles in Dominique Dumais’ Time and other Matter, Nicolo Fonte’s Within/Without, and Christopher Stowell’s Quick Time.

Rachel Foster with James Yoichi Moore in After The Rain in 2009; photo © Angela Sterling.


Audiences will have several opportunities to catch Ms. Foster in the upcoming production of George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (April 12 – 21) and THEMES & VARIATIONS (May 31 – June 9). For casting information for PNB performances, visit PNB’sSeason Encore Performance will be presented one night only, Sunday, June 9 at 6:30 pm. The performance will include special tributes to Ms. Foster and retiring principal dancer Jonathan Porretta. Tickets for all performances are on sale through the PNB Box Office.

The PNB Box Office may be reached by calling 206.441.2424, in person at 301 Mercer Street at Seattle Center, or online at (Schedule, programming and casting are subject to change. For up-to-date casting information, check performance details on

Rachel Foster © Angela Sterling.