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PNB launches program to foster female choreographers

Eva Stone leads a professional division class at Pacific Northwest Ballet School.
Courtesy Pacific Northwest Ballet/Lindsay Thomas
Eva Stone leads a professional division class at Pacific Northwest Ballet School.

Many ballet dancers are women, but far fewer women actually create the dances we see onstage.

Seattle’s Pacific Northwest Ballet school wants to help change that paradigm.

Starting this autumn, upper level female ballet students will enroll in a rigorous choreography program designed to give them a foundation in the basic building blocks of a dance.

Choreographer Eva Stone, who will teach the course, has been pushing PNB for several years to add a choreography course to the curriculum.

“Finally the time has arrived,” she says. “It’s not just enough to be a dancer and perform in other people’s work. You need the skills and training to find your own voice.”

Stone hopes the new program not only imparts choreographic skills, but also helps foster the confidence the young women will need to create new work and advocate for it.

Ballet companies around the world have been looking for ways to extend more opportunities to female artists. This spring, New York’s American Ballet Theater announced a multi-year program to commission and present work by women choreographers. Both London’s Royal Ballet and PNB recently have programmed performances that feature work by women.

PNB actually piloted the young women’s choreographic course last summer during its summer intensive program and repeated that course this year. The year-long class is a first for the organization.