DanceChance was created in 1994 to improve equity and access in classical ballet training. DanceChance Partners with Seattle Public Schools to invite students demonstrating unique attributes for classical ballet to study at Pacific Northwest Ballet School free of charge, dependent only upon students’ potential and interest in dance.

DanceChance aims to enrich the lives of each participant through the opportunity to study classical ballet, to cultivate a diverse School and Company, and to train and nurture the next generation of dancers.

“The opportunity to dance and work with teachers who are both kind and passionate about their art form has changed our son’s life.”

Parent, Graham Hill Elementary

The Program

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.

Performance Opportunities

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.

Mentorship Program

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.

Photos © Lindsay Thomas and Joseph Lambert.

“I felt really, really awesome, honored and excited to be selected for DanceChance.”

Allison, Van Asselt Elementary

“I felt happy when I was selected for DanceChance because I always wanted to be in a ballet.”

Morrison, Maple Elementary

“It was very thrilling and exciting to be selected for DanceChance.”

Michaela, Graham Hill Elementary

“My favorite thing about DanceChance is that we get to make new friends and do cool stretches.”

Jalen, Emerson Elementary

“I never knew how to do ballet and now I have learned so much.”

Violet, Thurgood Marshall Elementary

“My favorite thing about DanceChance is the exciting stuff you learn every week.”

Shobha, Thurgood Marshall Elementary
The year Francia Russell began DanceChance
Seattle School District partner schools
Third grade students screened this year
in scholarships for the year
in transportation costs for the year
of students improved their interest in the arts
of students showed improved self-esteem
of students had a positive experience in DanceChance

Former DanceChance Students

Student NameCompany
Jade ButlerGrand Rapids Ballet
Alice CaoBallet Memphis, American Repertory Ballet, Singapore Dance Theatre
Elena CarterBallet Nebraska
Carlos CruzOregon Ballet Theater
Alexa DomendenOregon Ballet Theater II, Oregon Ballet Theater
Enrico HipolitoBallet West II, Kansas City Ballet
Eric HipolitoPacific Northwest Ballet, Ballet Arizona
Angeli MamonPacific Northwest Ballet
Ken MankinKansas City Ballet II, Ballet Austin, Ballet Met II
Joh MorrillPacific Northwest Ballet
Kuu SakuragiAlberta Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet
Anders SoutherlandMilwaukee Ballet II, Houston Ballet II, Nebraska Ballet
Levi TeachoutGrand Rapids Ballet
Bella UretaBoston Ballet II, Cincinnati Ballet
Quinn WhartonSan Francisco Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

Seattle Partner Schools

Arbor Heights
Bailey Gatzert
Broadview-Thomson K-8
Dearborn Park International
Graham Hill
Olympic View
South Shore K-8
Wing Luke
Olympic Hills
Thurgood Marshall
Rising Star

Number of DanceChance Students Enrolled

Class LevelNumber of Students
DanceChance I80
DanceChance II29
Level III7
Level IIIC Boys5
Level IV8
Level IVC Boys3
Level V6
Level VI1
Intermediate Boys5
Level VII0
Level VIII0
Professional Division1

“Lowell Elementary School holds dynamic, integrated multi-arts programs at the core of its founding principles. As we grow and strengthen our multi-arts programs and partner with other schools in the Central corridor of SPS, prioritizing options for different art forms is the priority of our school leadership, community collaborators and families. DanceChance provides an aspect of music, movement and art that allows some of our students to participate in dance training that they might not have otherwise have an opportunity to access. It is a joy to see the importance and investment that children and families make in this commitment.”

Geri Guerrero, Principal, Lowell Elementary

“As a Title I school with such a diverse population and 82% on Free/Reduced lunch, our students unfortunately miss out on so many activity opportunities. We have so many talented students that just need the opportunity to be exposed to this kind of dance form, and DanceChance has been that opportunity for these students.”

Angela Bogan, Principal, Dearborn Park International School

“We see the arts as an essential part of every child’s education. DanceChance provides some of our students an opportunity to develop skills and focus through movement. They have the opportunity that would otherwise not be available to them due to the cost of participation in ballet. Our students that have participated continue to report that they enjoy the experience immensely and display greater self-confidence due to their selection and participation. We feel honored as a faculty that our students have this valued opportunity to grow and learn.”

Karen Harris, Assistant Principal, Beacon Hill International School

“It is a tremendous opportunity for selected students to train with a world renowned dance company. We want students to have access to this unique program. As a Multi-Arts teacher at Olympic View these past ten years, I have been encouraged by the ongoing support and vision for all out students to experience the arts in as many ways as possible. I can only provide a portion of the experience our students crave and deserve. This program fits perfectly with our vision of growing meaningful partnerships with community art organizations.”

Liz Law, Multi-Arts Teacher, Olympic View Elementary

“DanceChance is a wonderful program which gives our students the change to be involved in an activity outside of the school day. All of our students are different; some of our kiddos excel in academics. Others follow their passion into the arts. DanceChance recognizes these kiddos by giving them the avenue to express themselves. I feel that once they excel in dance, they have developed the confidence in themselves to improve their academics. They gain confidence by participating in DanceChance performances.”

Christine McFerran, Third Grade teacher, Northgate Elementary

DanceChance has offered our community access to a program that many have not heard of or had any experience with. This program has been able to provide South Shore with a window into the larger Seattle arts community and expanded students’ horizons and literally changed their life in ways not imaginable. This program has also increased some of the family involvement as some families see this as an opportunity to have their children receive high-level services that usually would be out of reach. This program has been an integral part of the reason families choose South Shore K-8.”

Justin Hendrickson, Assistant Principal South Shore K-8


For More Information

If you would like more information about DanceChance, contact Naomi Glass, DanceChance Manager at 206.441.2435 ext. 3516, or e-mail

Are you a former DanceChance student?

We’d love to hear your story and find out where you have gone in life! E-mail

DanceChance is generously sponsored by numerous individuals and the following:

Arlene A. Wright DanceChance Fund
D.V. & Ida J. McEachern Charitable Trust
Fales Foundation Trust
Freed of London
Harold L. Wyman Foundation
The Hearst Foundations
Kelly Foundation of Washington
Macrina Bakery
National Endowment for the Arts
On Pointe Dancewear
Pagliacci Pizza
Peg & Rick Young Foundation
Washington State Arts Commission