Each fall, a team of DanceChance staff and instructors visits partner schools within Seattle Public Schools to provide dance education presentations and movement instruction to all third-grade students. Within these visits, students who exhibit the unique characteristics to excel in classical ballet training are identified and invited to participate in a 9-week introductory session. Students who demonstrate progress, potential and interest continue on for a spring session and, subsequently, for the fourth-grade year. Upon graduation from the two-year program, select students are invited to continue their training in Pacific Northwest Ballet School Level III classes.
DanceChance classes are taught by Pacific Northwest Ballet’s School’s renowned faculty of educators and accompanied by professional dance musicians.
DanceChance aims to enrich the lives of students through classical ballet training and a broad exposure to many aspects of professional ballet. DanceChance provides students with tuition-free classical ballet training, ballet attire and shoes, transportation to/from school and tickets to Pacific Northwest Ballet performances. Additionally, DanceChance students experience masterclasses in various styles of dance, costume shop and backstage tours, opportunities to observe Company class and meet professional dancers, and family engagement events intended to familiarize students’ parents and siblings with their ballet studies.
DanceChance and Academic Education
Through classical ballet instruction, DanceChance instructors aim to foster creativity, focus, self-regulation, a willingness to try new things, perseverance, curiosity and a strong sense of self. These traits serve those aspiring to careers in professional ballet and are also strong contributors to academic success. Research shows that arts education promotes life skills, such as the development of informed perception, problem-solving, confidence and discipline (Americans for the Arts, 2002). Studies have demonstrated that the physicality and expressiveness of dance alters brain function, strengthening memory capacity and neuronal connections (Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute, 2019).
DanceChance students are expected to maintain strong academic standings and to make up schoolwork missed during the periods of their school days in which they attend ballet classes. Occurring as a regular part of students’ weekly schedule, DanceChance classes are embedded within students’ education and become an integral part of their school experience. Parents have reported that their children advanced academically while a part of the DanceChance program, and many have correlated this success with participation in the program.
DanceChance students perform in the annual School Performance and often have the opportunity to perform in Company productions, such as George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®, The Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Following their graduation from PNB School, DanceChance alumni have gone on to dance professionally for the Pacific Northwest Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Oregon Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet and Singapore Ballet Theatre, among others.
The DanceChance Mentorship Program serves as a support system for DanceChance students and their families upon graduation from the program. Entering into the larger PNB School in Level III can be a challenging transition. Upper-level DanceChance graduates serve as mentors for younger DanceChance graduates, providing guidance and encouragement as students become increasingly committed to their ballet training. Through the Mentorship Program, alumni families develop strong ties and networks of support within the DanceChance community.