Back to Blogs

Trainee Programs Part 1: Exploring the Professional Division at Pacific Northwest Ballet

Robert Fulton - April 21, 2024, 7:43 p.m.

The Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) in Seattle offers a Professional Division program that is renowned for its rigorous training and competitive nature. This program is designed for dancers who are on the cusp of a professional career, providing not just dance training but also a comprehensive educational experience that helps transition students from ballet students to professional dancers.

Selectivity and Training Quality

Getting into the PNB Professional Division is highly competitive, with selections made from outside auditioners as well as students who have reached Levels 7 and 8 within the school's training programs. The training is rigorous and comprehensive, focusing on perfecting technique and enhancing artistry. Students experience growth through performance opportunities which include roles in classical ballet productions such as "The Nutcracker" and a spring ballet, as well as modern works and original pieces choreographed for the "Next Step" showcase and the annual school performance.

Performance Opportunities

Performance opportunities for Professional Division students are ample, making it a vibrant part of their educational experience at PNB. Students perform in their own ballet productions, participate in the choreographic showcase "Next Step", and the end-of-year show. However, the chance of joining the company as an apprentice is modest, with estimates suggesting less than 5% of PD students are offered such positions annually, although this can vary depending on the company’s needs each year.

Educational and Career Planning

The PNB School goes beyond dance training with its extensive Health and Wellness and mentorship programs that include seminars on nutrition, injury prevention, and personal medicine. The school assists with career planning through workshops on resume writing, audition preparations, and provides contacts for audition photos. This holistic approach prepares dancers not just for a career in dance, but for life after dance.

Housing and Living in Seattle

Unlike some ballet schools, PNB does not provide year-round housing for its students, which means students need to arrange their own accommodations. Many find apartments close to the school, often sharing with roommates to manage costs better. Seattle’s living expenses can be high, but the city offers a vibrant cultural scene and the school’s central location facilitates access to various amenities.

Health and Wellness Support

PNB is pioneering in providing a Consulting Staff which includes a licensed social worker, a dietician, and a physical therapist, highlighting their commitment to the dancers' overall well-being. This support system is vital in a profession that is as demanding as ballet, both physically and mentally.

Educational Partnerships and Additional Training

The Professional Division students also benefit from an educational partnership with Seattle University, which offers courses right at the Phelps Center, home of PNB. This unique arrangement allows dancers to pursue higher education conveniently. Furthermore, the PNBConditioning program offers Pilates and strength training classes tailored to enhance dancers' core strength and flexibility, which are crucial for injury prevention.


PNB’s Professional Division is a beacon for aspiring professional dancers, offering a blend of top-tier ballet training and comprehensive educational resources. It’s a program that prepares dancers thoroughly for the demands of professional ballet careers and beyond. While the pathway to becoming a company member might be narrow, the training and experiences provided are invaluable, broadening the dancers' opportunities in the dance world and other related fields.