Pacific Northwest Ballet School Presents the 32nd ANNUAL PNB SCHOOL PERFORMANCES

May 29, 2013

Press Releases

Pacific Northwest Ballet School Presents the 32nd ANNUAL PNB SCHOOL PERFORMANCES

Featuring Twyla Tharp’s Sweet Fields, accompanied by the Tudor Choir; and George Balanchine’s Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, accompanied by Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Marion Oliver McCaw Hall

321 Mercer Street, Seattle Center

1:30 & 7:00 pm


SEATTLE, WA — See and hear the stars of tomorrow on stage today, as Pacific Northwest Ballet School presents two programs featuring the talented young artists of PNB School and Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras. On Saturday, June 15, PNB School will present the 32nd ANNUAL SCHOOL PERFORMANCES at 1:30 pm and 7:00 pm. The programs feature students of all levels performing original works by PNB School faculty, designed to showcase the students’ skills and accomplishments over the past year. At both performances PNB School’s Professional Division students will perform Twyla Tharp’s Sweet Fields, accompanied by the Tudor Choir under the direction of Doug Fullington, and the third movement of George Balanchine’s Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, accompanied by Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Stephen Rogers Radcliffe. The evening performance will also feature an excerpt from Balanchine’s treasured Serenade; Tchaikovsky’s score for this work will be performed live by the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra. PNB School’s 32nd Annual School Performances will be presented at 1:30 & 7:00 pm on Saturday, June 15 at Seattle Center’s Marion Oliver  McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer Street. Tickets are $30, $50 and $70 and may be purchased through the PNB Box Office by phone at 206.441.2424, online at, or in person at 301 Mercer Street.


“School Performance offers the opportunity to see the extraordinary range of accomplishment from our gifted students of all ages,” says PNB School director Peter Boal. “The simplest of movements are executed with the utmost precision by our youngest, while the top tier performs complicated choreography with ease and brio. This year we are especially proud to include a work by PNB’s first Artist in Residence, Twyla Tharp. Sweet Fields, her uplifting work for 12 students to 19th-century American hymns is like a breath of fresh air, blending ritual, humor and community through dance.”


“The Seattle Youth Symphony is committed to enriching our nationally recognized orchestral curriculum with outstanding performance collaborations such as that with the Pacific Northwest Ballet,” adds Stephen Rogers Radcliffe, Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras music director. “Both Peter Boal and I agree…the bold new works of tomorrow will be increasingly created, interpreted and performed by the young artists of today. For both musicians and dancers, this type of ground-breaking program fosters appreciation and awareness across multiple artistic genres and expands the creative horizons of our students.”


In addition, the Fifth Annual PNB School Celebration Dinner honoring the successes of PNB School students will take place on June 15 between the two performances, at 4:30 pm in Prelude Restaurant at McCaw Hall. Tickets are $45 for students, $65 for adults, and $150 for sponsors. Advance registration is required and tickets may be purchased through the PNB Box Office.




1:30 Performance
Levels I-IV, Levels I-VIII Men, and DanceChance will perform original works by PNB School faculty. Also on the program—the PNB School premiere of Twyla Tharp’s Sweet Fields, accompanied by the Tudor Choir and George Balanchine’s Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, accompanied by the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra, both danced by PNB School’s Professional Division students.


7:00 Performance
Levels V-VII will perform original works by PNB School faculty; Level VIII Women perform an excerpt from George Balanchine’s treasured Serenade, accompanied by the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra, and Professional Division students present encore performances of Balanchine’s Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet and Twyla Tharp’s Sweet Fields.


Sweet Fields

Music: 18th– and 19th-century American hymns by William Billings, William Walker,

Abraham Woods, and Jeremiah Ingalls

Choreography: Twyla Tharp

Staging: Alexander Brady and Rika Okamoto


The PNB School performance of Twyla Tharp’s Sweet Fields is generously underwritten by Greg Kusnick & Karen Jo Gustafson and the PNB Education Committee.


Sweet Fields, set to eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American hymns, was made for an ensemble of Tharp’s own dancers. Inspired by Pythagorean geometry and its related harmony and restraint, simple and distinct patterns keep recurring throughout the piece, as basic geometric material evolves while one theme grows out of another. The geometric floor patterns and designs remain clear and crisply defined as canonic, counterpoint, and three-part counterpointed moves animate geometry. The shaking of the women’s hands responds directly to “Shaker” community articulations associated with the specific “Shaker Hymns” included in the musical mix. As the piece paces, pictures and gestures work toward a similarly sophisticated simplicity. The pervasive discipline and playful rigors of the choreography, could not, in Tharp’s own words, have been possible without her own Quaker origins. [Notes courtesy of Twyla Tharp Productions. Used by permission.]


Twyla Tharp has choreographed more than 135 dances, five Hollywood movies, directed and choreographed three Broadway shows, written three books, and received one Tony Award, two Emmy Awards, seventeen honorary doctorates, and numerous other awards, including a 2008 Kennedy Center Honor. In 1965, Ms. Tharp founded the dance company Twyla Tharp Dance, for which she made 80 pieces, including Nine Sinatra Songs and In the Upper Room. In 1988, Twyla Tharp Dance merged with American Ballet Theatre, where Ms. Tharp created more than a dozen works. Since that time, Ms. Tharp has choreographed dances for many companies, including Paris Opera Ballet, the Royal Ballet, New York City Ballet, Boston Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance, and the Martha Graham Dance Company. In 1991, Ms. Tharp regrouped Twyla Tharp Dance and the company has been touring internationally to critical acclaim since 1999. Ms. Tharp’s work first went to Broadway in 1980 with When We Were Very Young. In 2002, Ms. Tharp’s and Billy Joel’s award-winning dance musical Movin’ Out premiered on Broadway and continued with national tour that opened in January 2004. In film, Ms. Tharp has collaborated with director Milos Forman on Hair (1978), Ragtime (1980), and Amadeus(1984); with Taylor Hackford on White Nights (1985); and with James Brooks on I’ll Do Anything (1994). Her Broadway production Come Fly Away opened in March 2010 at the Marquis Theatre and was later re-worked to Sinatra: Dance With Me which opened in Las Vegas in 2011. In 2012, Ms. Tharp created The Princess and the Goblin, a full-length ballet (her first to include children) based on the story by George MacDonald. Ms. Tharp continues to create works and lecture around the world.


Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet (3rd Movement)

Music: Johannes Brahms (Piano Quartet, No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25, 1861, orchestrated by Arnold Schoenberg, 1937)

Choreography: George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust


Balanchine choreographed Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet in 1966 as the first full-company work for New York City Ballet after its move from the City Center of Music and Drama to the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center. The dance is set to Johannes Brahms’ Piano Quartet No 1 in G minor, Op. 25 (1861), as orchestrated in 1937 by the expressionist composer Arnold Schoenberg. Although Balanchine felt that chamber music was generally unsuitable for ballet, stating that most pieces were “too long, with too many repeats, and meant for small rooms, “the Schoenberg orchestration broadened the musical palette of Brahms’ quartet. The choreographer recognized the possibilities for dance in its four diverse movements and went on to make four self-contained works—none of the dancers return from previous movements—each chock full of dancing. With no plot, the choreographic flavor of each movement is dictated by the music. For complete program notes, click here.


Serenade (excerpt)

Music: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Serenade in C for string orchestra, Op. 48, 1880)

Choreography: George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust


Choreographed originally in 1934 for students at the recently founded School of American Ballet, Serenade is the very first work George Balanchine created for American dancers. The remarkable story of its composition has often been told. Deciding after class one day that “the best way to make students aware of stage technique was to give them something new to dance,” Balanchine began to choreograph a new work, to Tchaikovsky’s lush Serenade in C for string orchestra, improvising with whatever students were available—seventeen that first day, varying numbers on succeeding days, eventually a few men; and incorporating chance happenings, such as a dancer’s fall or late arrival, into the overall design of the piece. Making a virtue of his students’ technical limitations and lack of finesse, he also contrived to build simple movements into consequential stage events, to give unprecedented importance to the ensemble rather than to individuals, and to infuse the whole with a freshness and candor that have struck many viewers as the first expression of a distinctively American style.  For complete program notes, click here.



PNB School’s 32nd Annual School Performances will be presented at 1:30 & 7:00 pm on Saturday, June 15 at McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer Street at Seattle Center. Tickets to the PNB School Performances are $30, $50 and $70.

Tickets may be purchased through the PNB Box Office:

  • Phone: 206. 441.2424 (Mon.-Fri.      9am–6pm; Sat. 10am–5pm)
  • In person: 301 Mercer St.      (Mon.-Fri. 10am–6pm; Sat. 10am–5pm)
  • Online: (24/7)
  • 90 minutes prior to each      performance (subject to availability) at McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer Street.


Founded in 1974, Pacific Northwest Ballet School is recognized as one of the top ballet training institutions in the United States. Under the direction of Peter Boal, the School offers a complete, professional curriculum to more than 900 students. With two locations—The Phelps Center in Seattle and The Francia Russell Center in Bellevue—the School maintains a faculty of over 20 instructors, each with extensive performing backgrounds, and professional piano accompanists.

PNB School is divided into three divisions that are designed to challenge students with each year of study: Creative Movement and Pre-Ballet students (ages 5-7) are introduced to music, movement and group interaction. The Student Division offers eight levels of instruction. Auditions are required for admission and placement is based on age, strength, and physical development. The School’s Professional Division offers advanced instruction for students planning a professional dance career. This intensive dance instruction includes all aspects of classical ballet technique as well as modern, jazz, and character dance. The Professional Division program is complemented by courses in dance, history, music, choreography, special conditioning, and other related subjects. Students also receive physical and nutritional guidance from the School’s staff and professional consultants.

Students benefit from the close ties with Pacific Northwest Ballet’s professional Company, half of which received training in the School. Professional Division students often perform with the Company, and apprentices are drawn from the Professional Division. In addition to the School Performance, the annual production of Nutcracker gives students of all ages valuable performing experience.

To learn more about Pacific Northwest Ballet School, please visit



With a 70-year tradition of excellence and innovation in arts education, the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras (SYSO), under the leadership of Conductor and Music Director Stephen Rogers Radcliffe, brings life-changing musical experiences to thousands of families throughout the Puget Sound. SYSO is the largest youth orchestra training program in the America, serving almost 1,700 diverse students each year through four full orchestras, three summer festival programs and a nationally recognized partnership with local public schools. SYSO’s flagship orchestra, the Seattle Youth Symphony, is made up of the finest young musicians in the region, and its annual Benaroya Hall concert season presents professional caliber performances that are infused with the unrivaled energy and passion of youthful artistry. Internationally recognized guest conductors and soloists frequently perform with the orchestra, and its distinguished graduates and alumni can be found in major symphony orchestras in America and abroad.



Special thanks to the Talented Students in the Arts Initiative, a collaboration of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Surdna Foundation, Glenn Kawasaki, and our education supporters: Ameriprise Financial, ArtsWA, Bellevue Arts Commission, Capezio/Ballet Makers Dance Foundation, Engaging Dance Audiences, a program of Dance/USA, Freed of London, Hearst Foundations, Kelly Foundation of Washington, Lockwood Foundation, D.V. and Ida J. McEachern Charitable Trust, MetLife Foundation, Northwest Danish Association, PEMCO Foundation, Safeco Insurance Foundation, scan|design Foundation by Inger & Jens Bruun, Union Bank Foundation, Wells Fargo Bank, Harold L. Wyman Foundation, KeyBank Foundation, Peg & Rick Young Foundation, U.S. Bancorp Foundation, Anonymous, and members of the Pacific Northwest Ballet Education Committee.


Programming subject to change

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