Professional Division

Laying the foundation for a professional career

© Angela Sterling

Students invited to the Professional Division concentrate on perfecting technique and developing artistry through an intensive full-day, 40-week, comprehensive program. Professional Division curriculum includes technique, pointe, variations, men’s class, adagio, modern, choreography, pilates apparatus classes, essential barre, strength training, and seminars on such topics as nutrition, personal safety, and life skills. This 1 to 2-year program is designed to help students transition from student to professional dancer.  PNB School assists students with career planning by offering workshops and resources on resume writing and the audition/job search process, providing contacts for audition photos, and through individual counseling/conferences. Selected Professional Division students may also have frequent opportunities to perform in Pacific Northwest Ballet productions throughout the year.


Participation in the Summer Course is required in order to be considered for admission into the PD program. Admission to the PD program is by invitation only, and students are notified of acceptance to the program before the end of Summer Course.

Summer Course students in Levels VII and VIII receive application materials for the PD program prior to Summer Course. Students interested in applying for the program must submit the necessary paperwork by July 30th, to allow sufficient time for faculty and staff to identify and review the applicants during Summer Course. The application requires information from the prospective student, his/her parents, a recommendation from the student’s current ballet instructor, and financial assistance paperwork (if financial aid is necessary). Prospective students and their parents must consider living arrangements (PNB does not offer year-round housing) as well as academics. PD program candidates who have not completed high school must have a plan to continue academic studies while attending PNB School. Students are notified verbally of their acceptance to the PD program before the end of Summer Course, followed by written confirmation before the new school year begins in September.


Once accepted to participate in the Professional Division program, students attend an orientation with Peter Boal and Denise Bolstad, along with other key staff from the School and Company before the end of Summer Course. Each student receives a packet with paperwork outlining School policies/procedures and a number of forms to return to the School before classes begin (registration form, physical exam report, medical insurance info, etc.).  A second orientation meeting is held after the school year begins in September, in which students meet members of PNB’s artistic and production staff, and review School policies, procedures, and expectations of Professional Division students.


Students requesting tuition assistance (scholarships) for the 2015-16 school year must submit a completed Financial Aid form by mid-July.  Our financial assistance application process utilizes the services of School and Student Service for Financial Aid (SSS).  SSS does a comprehensive, standardized analysis of the information received and, upon completion, submits a report to PNB, which provides an estimated amount that your family can contribute toward educational expenses. The application form for SSS is called the Parent Financial Statement (PFS). The PFS form can be completed online at  for a non-refundable processing fee. PNB does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, nationality, sex, or ethnic origin.

Pacific Northwest Ballet School has a limited amount of stipend assistance funds available for Professional Division students to provide supplemental income for living expenses.  A separate Stipend Application must be submitted in order to be considered for stipend assistance.

Determination of Scholarship and Stipend assistance is considered separately by the Scholarship Committee.


Professional Division students are responsible for making their own housing arrangements during the school year, as PNB School does not have year-round housing available. Students often choose to live with a roommate; most roommate situations are established before the end of Summer Course. Many students have recommended searching online at to find prospective apartments in the vicinity of PNB (visit and click on "Rentals" for Seattle. It shows available rentals, location, and cost).


Communication with the School is vital to the success of each student. Students should contact Ms. Bolstad or the School office with any and all questions, issues, concerns, etc. These often can be addressed by front desk staff. Students are welcome and encouraged to e-mail or call Denise Bolstad, the School’s Administrative Director (, at any time throughout the school year to discuss day-to-day concerns (class work, schedule, absences, injuries, auditions, roommate issues, etc.). Ms. Bolstad is your primary contact throughout the school year.

Communication regarding schedules, schedule changes, and any/all events involving PD students will be posted on the School bulletin boards. Students are required to check the boards daily for updates.


Conferences with Mr. Boal and Ms. Bolstad are held in the winter to discuss student progress, options for summer programs and the following school year, and audition tour plans.


As the first ballet school in the United States to institute a consulting staff, PNB School takes pride in our leadership educating young dancers. Strong advisory and consulting programs are in place to assist and guide students and parents on an individual and group basis. The consulting staff includes a nutritionist, psychologist, podiatrist, kinesiologist and dance historian.

PNB School is committed to promoting the healthy emotional development of its students. First year Professional Division students are required to meet with Peggy Swistak, PNB’s Consulting Nutritionist, individually at the beginning of the School year to record weight, discuss eating habits and any other questions or concerns. Follow up appointments may be scheduled as needed. Our Consulting Psychologist, Toby Diamond, is available free of charge for short-term  counseling, intervention services, and professional consultations to students who seek additional support in personal development or wish to discuss (in confidence) thoughts and concerns related to PNBS classes, academic school and/or family and social issues. Any information discussed with the Consulting Psychologist will be strictly confidential.


Originally designed for PNB dancers and students, PNBConditioning uses the Pilates method to develop core strength and stability, promote long lean muscles, and increase flexibility. PD students may sign up for free weekly apparatus sessions on a space-available basis. Please speak with Marjorie Thompson about scheduling sessions.

PD women participate in weekly Essential Barre classes; a 50 minute workout that integrates musical rhythms, small props, and ballet barre.

PD Men participate in a bi-weekly Strength Training Program to strengthen the upper body and core muscles in order to enhance partnering ability, shape and sculpt muscles, and avoid injury. Each class utilizes bodyweight, free weight, and mat exercises to focus on specific muscle groups in the chest, shoulders, back, arms, abdominals/core, and legs to gain the strength, power, and stability necessary for the physical demands of a professional male ballet dancer.


Professional Division students have the unique opportunity to join PNB Company dancers in taking Seattle University Courses taught by SU faculty at the Phelps Center. Each academic year, Seattle University provides three courses for the partnership, one per quarter, generally meeting one night per week. More information on the PNB/SU partnership is available to students at orientation.


PNB School is firmly committed to providing as many career planning resources and job placement opportunities as possible to Professional Division students. A resume workshop/audition seminar is held in early December to help students begin the process of writing a resume and searching for a job in the dance field. Photographer contacts for audition portfolios are available to students, as well as an annual directory which provides extensive information on approximately 40 ballet companies in the United States, a useful resource in planning auditions. Individual counseling and advice on careers in dance and/or college dance programs are also provided.

Artistic Director Visits: Artistic Directors from ballet companies throughout the United States and Canada are invited each year to visit PNB in the winter months (typically January and February) to watch class and consider Professional Division students for positions with their respective companies. All PD students are expected to participate in these classes.

Offsite Company Auditions: Absences for company auditions outside of PNB must receive prior approval from the Administrative Director and the Artistic office before any travel arrangements are made.

2014-15 Professional Division Job/College Placement
Total enrolled 2014-15:  28 Women    13 Men

Students received job offers or college acceptance for the 2015-16 year at the following organizations/universities:

Ballet Met II, Ballet West II, Grand Rapids Ballet, Los Angeles Ballet, Nevada Ballet Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Suzanne Farrell Ballet, Indiana University, Princeton University


Company Rehearsals: PD students may be called to PNB Company rehearsals. If called, students are expected to attend all scheduled rehearsals, whether or not they are cast to perform. The School office must be notified if rehearsals conflict with School classes. School dress code is required in rehearsals (see page 10 for Dress Code information).

Company Performances: PD students perform in The Nutcracker. A select number of students may be cast in other productions throughout the season. Please refer to “Performance Rules for Professional Division Students” (page 7) and the “Message to all PDs from Wardrobe/Costumes” (page 8) for more information regarding Professional Division student performance expectations.

Winter Wonderland Ball (January):  Select Professional Division students perform excerpts from Company repertory at PNB School’s largest fundraiser, the Winter Wonderland Ball.  Net proceeds from the event support PNB School to ensure the highest quality of dance instruction, live music accompaniment in the studios, and provide scholarships for those in need.

Petite Finale (May): Petite Finale Performances showcase the work of PNB School’s youngest students (ages 5-7). Following their performance, the students become part of the audience to watch Professional Division students perform brief excerpts from Company repertoire, followed by photo opportunities and a reception.

NEXT STEP: PD students may be selected to participate in NEXT STEP, a choreographic showcase where PNB School’s Professional Division students perform an all-premiere line up of works created just for them by PNB Company dancers. This one-night-only performance on Saturday, June 18th continues PNB’s commitment to bringing new works to the McCaw Hall stage. Not all PD students are cast in NEXT STEP.

PNB Annual School Performance, held at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall on Saturday, June 18, and Sunday, June 19, 2016: Professional Division students perform original choreographic works and excerpts from PNB’s repertory.

Teacher Assistants: PD students may be selected to assist with Children’s Division and Student Division classes. Teacher Assistants gain valuable experience working with PNB School instructors, learning to manage children in a classroom setting through demonstration and verbal instruction. Please see Ms. Siegel if you are interested in this opportunity.


A complete listing of School policies and procedures can be found in the PNB School Student Handbook: student handbook.pdf
As stated in the School Handbook, students must call the School office (206.441.2435) prior to class if missing class due to illness. Injured students are expected to observe class, unless excused by School staff. Repeated absences (whether excused or unexcused) will result in a conference with the student and/or parents, and scholarship and/or partial stipend assistance may be withdrawn; chronic absenteeism may result in expulsion from the School.

  • Any absence from class must be reported to the School office before class.
  • Students must report to the Artistic staff (not the School) for any absence from a Company rehearsal in order to be excused. (This is separate from School classes).
  • Absences will be excused only for serious illness, injury or family emergency. 
  • Absences for auditions or any circumstances for an extended period of time must receive prior approval from the Administrative Director.

Medical Issues/Injuries*
If an injury occurs (either in or outside of class), please do the following:

  • Notify appropriate faculty immediately, then...
  • Report immediately to the School office so that proper documentation can be made.
  • Have your doctor fax a report on your injury to the School office in order to facilitate your recovery.
  • We must receive written permission from your doctor allowing you to resume classes.


(More specific dates and information are provided to students prior to the start of the school year)

Professional Division Classes begin the Tuesday after Labor Day. A second orientation meeting will be held on this day.

The Nutcracker is underway in December, and Professional Division students are expected to continue with all scheduled classes during this time.

A resume writing and audition tour planning workshop is held, mandatory for all PD students. Students have the option to have photos taken for resume packets in early December at a special student rate (schedule and pricing TBA in November)

Professional Division students should use these months to plan their next year. They are expected to attend all company auditions held at PNB. Students who are interested in companies that do not hold auditions at PNB may need to plan an audition tour. Audition tours must be scheduled around the School/Company schedule and all plans must receive approval from the School prior to finalizing travel arrangements.

Students also need to be thinking about summer programs and training for the next year. Admission to PNB School’s Summer Course is not automatic for current PD students; nor is admission to the Professional Division program for the next year. Students should have a back-up plan in place prior to their conference.

Professional Division students perform in the School’s Petite Finale performances, held the first two weekends in May.

The School year comes to an end with the Annual School Performance and Next Step.

© 2015 Pacific Northwest Ballet. All Rights Reserved.