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Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) is a ballet company based in Seattle, Washington, in the United States. It is said to have the highest per capita attendance in the United States, with 11,000 subscribers in 2004. The company consists of 49 dancers; there are over 100 performances throughout the year.
Pacific Northwest Ballet was founded in 1972, after the two-month residency of First Chamber Dance Company, as part of the Seattle Opera and named the Pacific Northwest Dance Association. Under the directorship of Kent Stowell and Francia Russell, originally of New York City Ballet, it broke away from the Opera in 1977 and took its current name in 1978. Stowell and Russell left at the end of the 2004-2005 season. A portrait by artist Michele Rushworth was painted of Stowell and Russell and installed in the Phelps Center, Seattle, to commemorate their careers and retirement. Both had studied with and danced for George Balanchine.
In July 2005, Peter Boal succeeded Stowell and Russell as artistic director following their retirement. After dancing with the New York City Ballet for 22 years, he had been a full-time faculty member at The School of American Ballet from 1995-2005.
In 2013, the company and its orchestra toured to New York for the first time in sixteen years. The New York Times dance critic Alastair Macaulay, stated of their presentation that "This is a true company," more "unified in its understanding of Balanchine" than the New York City Ballet.
In 2012, PNB brought in Twyla Tharp as its first artist in residence for a year-long residency.
Pacific Northwest Ballet School
The Pacific Northwest Ballet School was founded in 1974. Formerly directed by Francia Russell, and now directed by Peter Boal, it has been considered to be "one of the leading, if not the definitive, professional training school in the country." The teaching is structured on that of the School of American Ballet. Pacific Northwest Ballet holds an annual summer course in the month of July and is considered one of the leading summer dance education facilities in the country.
Pacific Northwest Ballet is noted for choosing dancers that have physique, expressivity and a variety of body shapes.