DanceChance at Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle



Ballet: First You Need The Right Body, Then You Need A Chance (Click to read/view more)

About DanceChance

Pacific Northwest Ballet offers students in Seattle Public School partner schools the opportunity to study classical ballet free of charge, dependent only on the students’ potential and interest in the program.

PNB’s DanceChance program works with partner schools to identify students with talent for classical ballet. Through DanceChance, PNB seeks to build a School and Company that reflects the diversity of our community by providing access and opportunity to talented students.

DanceChance aims to:

  • Enrich each student’s life with the opportunity to study classical ballet.
  • Cultivate a diverse Company and School
  • Train the next generation of ballet dancers.

DanceChance began in 1994 and was designed by Francia Russell, Founding Artistic Director and Director of PNB School. In Russell’s words: “It is our hope that exposing these talented kids to classical ballet and other forms of dance will open up new worlds for them. Few, if any, of them would ever have known about their talent without the DanceChance program and some might never have found a productive passion in life. We feel confident that they will repay us through the fresh and diverse influence they will have on the future of our art form.”



The DanceChance Screening team visits partner schools in the fall and identifies third-grade students with the unique physical aptitude and focus required to pursue a career in dance. Selected students participate in a 9-week introductory fall session. Students are invited to continue on to the subsequent spring session and the fourth grade class based on their progress, potential and interest. Upon graduation from the two year program, some students are invited to integrate into PNBS Level III classes.


  • Full scholarships for classical ballet training twice a week
  • Dancewear and shoes
  • Transportation to and from PNB from their elementary school
  • Tickets to Pacific Northwest Ballet performances

In addition students receive a well-rounded dance education, including: fieldtrips to PNB’s Costume Shop, a chance to meet professional dances, and guest teachers in Modern, Hip Hop, Afro-Brazilian and Jazz.

All classes are taught by Pacific Northwest Ballet School’s renowned faculty of educators with live musical accompaniment.



DanceChance aims to enrich the lives of students through classical ballet training, developing beneficial skills regardless of their future career paths. Research shows that arts education teaches children life skills such as developing an informed perception, articulating a vision, learning to solve problems and make decisions, building self-confidence, and self-discipline (Americans for the Arts, 2002).



Students have the opportunity to perform in the Annual PNB School performance in the spring and often perform with the Company in PNB productions such as George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®, The Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Graduates have also danced professionally with such distinguished companies as San Francisco Ballet, Singapore Dance Theater and Oregon Ballet Theatre.

Mentorship Program

The DanceChance Mentorship Program serves as a support system for our DanceChance students and families upon their graduation from the two year program.  Entering into the larger PNB School in Level III can be a challenging transition as students become more serious in their ballet training.  By creating a mentorship relationship with upper level DanceChance graduates, younger students and their families can receive wisdom and encouragement from those who have gone before them in this process.

Are you a former DanceChance student?

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

Dance Chance © Lindsay Thomas

Dance Chance © Lindsay Thomas

Educational Role

DanceChance is an integral part of a child’s educational experience. It aims to enhance the children’s self-discipline, self-confidence and sense of achievement through the structure and demands of ballet training. DanceChance expects children to do well in their schoolwork in order to stay in the program. Each participating school coordinates a way for each child to make up missed schoolwork. Most children progress academically while in DanceChance and many schools and parents have attributed this success to the program.


The children themselves, with help and advice from family and teachers, are to a large extent in control of how much of their dance potential is reached. The decisions they make about their own behavior, attendance, and school work play a role in the children’s continuation in DanceChance.


See DanceChance children in action and learn more about the program.

Watch video

PNB’s DanceChance

Learn more about the program & hear from DanceChance students

Watch video

From Student to Swan

Bella and Angeli started ballet through our DanceChance program, grew up in PNB School and are now in our Professional Division, learning what it takes to be in the corps de ballet of Swan Lake.

Seattle PI Photos

Click here to view a gallery of pictures from DanceChance’s 21st Annual Observation Day

Eric Hipolito Photo © Lindsay Thomas

Eric Hipolito Photo © Lindsay Thomas

DanceChance Facts

  • Francia Russell began DanceChance in 1994 with four partner schools in Seattle.
  • Currently, DanceChance has 23 partner schools in the Seattle School District.
  • DanceChance screened 1300 third grade students this year.
  • Scholarships for DanceChance I and II students cost a total of $112,000 for the year.
  • Transportation costs for the year will total $55,000.
  • Classroom teachers at the partner schools reported 50% of students improved in their interest in the arts while participating in DanceChance.  Teachers also reported that 62%of students improved in their interest in the arts.
  • Parents of DanceChance students reported that 74% of students improved in their self-discipline, 65% improved in their self-esteem and 83% improved in their interest in the arts.
  • 100% of parents reported that their students had a positive experience in DanceChance.

Many DanceChance graduates have gone on to professional careers, including the following:
Carlos Cruz: Oregon Ballet Theater
Quinn Wharton, San Francisco Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
Ken Mankin: Kansas City Ballet II, Ballet Austin, Ballet Met II
Eric Hipolito: Pacific Northwest Ballet, Ballet Arizona
Alice Cao: Ballet Memphis, American Repertory Ballet, Singapore Dance Theatre
Anders Southerland: Milwaukee Ballet II, Houston Ballet II
Enrico Hipolito: Ballet West II
Angeli Mamon: Pacific Northwest Ballet
Alexa Domenden: Oregon Ballet Theater II
Bella Ureta: Boston Ballet II
Levi Teachout: Grand Rapids Ballet

Enrollment numbers of DanceChance students

Seattle DanceChance I 67
Seattle DanceChance II 23
Level II 1
Level III 17
Intermediate Boys 5
Level IV 3
Level V 2
Level VI 1
Level VII
Level VIII 2
Men’s Division 4
Professional Division 3
TOTAL 128 students

Seattle Partner Schools

Arbor Heights
Bailey Gatzert
Beacon Hill International
Broadview-Thomson K-8
Dearborn Park International
Graham Hill
Licton Springs K-8
Martin Luther King
Olympic View
South Shore K-8
Thurgood Marshall
Van Asselt
Wing Luke

© Bill Mohn

© Bill Mohn


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

“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

“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

“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.  Out 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

“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

“Lowell Elementary School holds dynamic, integrated multi-arts programS at the core of its founding principles.  As we grow and strengthen our mulit-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


“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

If you are interested in this rewarding opportunity, please contact Jennifer McLain, DanceChance Manager, at 206.441.2435 ext. 3516 or

For More Information

If you would like more information about DanceChance, contact Jennifer McLain, 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 Manager: Jennifer McLain
DanceChance Coordinator: Lauren Kirchner
Main DanceChance Office Seattle-The Phelps Center: 206.441.2435 ext. 3516

PNBS Artistic Director: Peter Boal
PNBS Administrative Director: Denise Bolstad
Faculty: Marisa Albee, Michele Curtis, Kiyon Gaines, William Miglino
PNBS Consulting Psychologist: Toby Diamond, Ph.D. 206.323.1988

DanceChance Videos

Watch video

DanceChance at First Look

DanceChance – First Look 2015

Watch video

Nathaniel and Enrico’s Story

Listen to Nathaniel and Enrico share their DanceChance experience.

Watch video

PNB’s DanceChance program

Seattle Channel features PNB’s DanceChance program

DanceChance Guest Teaching Artists

See Guest Bios

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
Harold L. Wyman Foundation
The Hearst Foundations
Kelly Foundation of Washington
Peg & Rick Young Foundation

Dancewear Sponsor