With her endless limbs and regal bearing, Amanda Morgan is an arresting presence onstage. Born in Tacoma, WA, Morgan studied at Dance Theatre Northwest and Pacific Northwest Ballet School, and attended summer courses at Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Boston Ballet School, and the School of American Ballet. In 2016, Morgan was offered an apprenticeship with PNB, and, in 2017, she joined the main company as a member of the corps de ballet.
Only a year into company life, Morgan is already making her mark. In addition to her demanding corps schedule, she's danced Rosalia in Jerome Robbins' West Side Story Suite, and originated a role in Dani Tirrell's Suckle, which premiered last August. "Growing up in the school at PNB, I was never able to see a woman in the company who looked like me," Morgan says. "That pushed me even more. Now, as I'm dancing in the company, it means little brown girls in Seattle are finally able to see themselves onstage. It's because of them that I continue to strive to be the greatest dancer I can be. They're our future."
Pretty much every ballet student struggles with fouettés, those fiendishly difficult turns that require both crazy strength and laser-sharp precision. But even the pros, who can make 32 of 'em look effortless, still get a bit of fouetté fear—especially when they're fouetté-ing at the end of Swan Lake's Black Swan pas de deux, one of the most difficult, and exhausting, pieces of classical choreography.
Pacific Northwest Ballet's Swan Lake opens this week (be sure to tune into their live-streamed rehearsal this afternoon!), and the Seattle Times caught up with three of the company's Odette/Odiles—Laura Tisserand, Lesley Rausch, and Elizabeth Murphy—to talk about those infamous fouettés. Their consensus? Yes, they're intimidating, even for gorgeous principal ballerinas, and getting through them is a matter of finding ways to push through the nerves.
Arabesque can be one of the most breathtaking positions in ballet. But achieving a long, graceful arabesque requires a particular combination of strength and flexibility. Struggling to get past 90 degrees? We asked Pacific Northwest Ballet School instructor Nancy Crowley for 10 tips to improve your arabesque.
Alonzo King LINES Ballet's Madeline DeVries can move with both liquid grace and razor-sharp precision. A Southern California native, DeVries grew up training at the Santa Clarita Ballet Academy in Canyon Country, CA. She later studied at the Pacific Northwest Ballet School's professional division on full scholarship, and spent summers training with Houston Ballet, The Rock School, and The National Ballet of Canada. In 2012, DeVries moved to Germany to become an apprentice with Dresden Semperoper Ballett. She returned to the States in 2013, and danced with Whim W'Him and Coriolis in Seattle before joining LINES Ballet in 2014. Catch her performing during the company's home season this month in San Francisco, CA—and read on for The Dirt!
Pacific Northwest Ballet recently broadcast one of its summer course's advanced level pointe classes, and the whole video is crazy #goals. Each exercise is executed with beautiful precision by the elite group of students, and instructor Marissa Albee (a former PNB Soloist) provides detailed insight with each correction. What's even more inspiring is the fact that the footage was taken only a couple of days ago. Summer may be coming to a close, but these dancers are still hard at work perfecting their craft.
When it comes to the West Coast, it's easy to see why L.A. often steals the show—flashy classes, performances and companies, all under the captivating Hollywood lights? It's a dance lover's dream. But the West also offers tons of other strong dance communities, and they're worth knowing. Packed with everything from renowned ballet companies to boundary-pushing contemporary groups, here are the non-L.A. dance hubs that should be on your radar.
Pacific Northwest Ballet principal Noelani Pantastico is famous for her passionate stage presence and strong, powerful technique. Originally from Oahu, HI, Pantastico trained at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and frequently attended summer courses at PNB. In 1997, she joined PNB as an apprentice, and was promoted to principal in 2004. Four years later, she joined Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo as a soloist—but, in 2015, Pantastico headed back home to PNB, and she's danced there ever since. Catch her in the company's June program, which features George Balanchine's La Source, Jerome Robbins' Opus 19 and Alexei Ratmansky's Pictures at an Exhibition. Read on for her letter!