Ballet Stars
Christopher D'Ariano with PNB soloist Leah Merchant in Robyn Mineko Williams' The Trees The Trees. Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB.

During a recent performance of Matthew Neenan's Bacchus at Pacific Northwest Ballet, corps de ballet dancer Christopher D'Ariano stood out not only for his elegant lines and crisp jumps; audiences couldn't help but notice his unruly dark hair that defied any attempts to slick it back.

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Ballet Stars
James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico warm up onstage. Angela Sterling, Courtesy SDC.

On a sunny July weekend, hundreds of Seattle-area dance fans converged on tiny Vashon Island, a bucolic enclave in Puget Sound about 20 miles from the city. They made the ferry trek to attend the debut performance of the fledgling Seattle Dance Collective.

SDC is not a run-of-the-mill contemporary dance company; it's the brainchild of two of Pacific Northwest Ballet's most respected principal dancers: James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico. The duo wanted to create a nimble organization to feature dancers and choreographers they felt needed more exposure in the Pacific Northwest.

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Pacific Northwest Ballet company dancers in Benjamin Millepied's Appassionata. Photo by Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB.

Pacific Northwest Ballet travels to Paris for the first time this summer, and artistic director Peter Boal couldn't be happier.

"I think we have a tremendous reputation, but people outside the greater Seattle area haven't seen this company," Boal says.

That will change after PNB's two-week stay with the French festival Les Étés de la Danse, which hosts a different international company every summer. A PNB residency had been in the works for several years when Les Étés de la Danse decided to produce a larger celebration of choreographer Jerome Robbins this summer, inspired by his centennial. New York City Ballet, Miami City Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet and Russia's Perm Opera Ballet Theatre will join PNB for that one-week tribute.

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Ballet Stars
Postelwaite and Pantastico's powerful reunion in "Cendrillon." Photo by Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB.

Lucien Postlewaite's Prince was anything but charming last February in Pacific Northwest Ballet's production of Cendrillon, Jean-Christophe Maillot's contemporary take on the Cinderella story. He strutted and preened, egged on by his friends. But once this prince met Cendrillon at the ball, his egotism gave way to lyrical grace, from the curve of his neck through his elegant extensions. For her part, Noelani Pantastico embodied the role of Cendrillon, taking us on her journey from a lonely, unwanted stepdaughter to a lovestruck young woman. Both dancers glided through the technically demanding choreography, infusing it with heartfelt emotion. This may be a fairy tale, but the romance felt real.

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Ballet Stars
Macy performs David Dawson's Empire Noir. Photo by Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB.

Elle Macy was a first-year corps member in 2013 when Twyla Tharp chose to feature her in Pacific Northwest Ballet's premiere of Waiting At The Station. Four years later, 24-year-old Macy is still in the corps, but choreographers from David Dawson to Jessica Lang to William Forsythe have noticed her long, elegant lines and boundless energy, and have singled her out to dance in their ballets.

"In the middle, somewhat elevated was on my bucket list," says Macy, who danced it in 2015. "It drew me into Forsythe, and having him come here was a dream!"


Macy in Balanchine's The NutcrackerPhoto by Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB

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Lindsay Thomas for Pointe

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancers Lindsi Dec and Karel Cruz became friends almost 15 years ago, standing at the back of a rehearsal studio with their fellow corps de ballet members. "We were fourth cast in one of the ballets," Dec recalls, "and we said, 'Let's do something. We can't just hang around here!' "

So, in their free time, Dec and Cruz started working together on a pas de deux from Don Quixote.

They weren't a couple yet, but it didn't take long for their friendship to deepen into romance. They started dating and eventually married, in 2009.

The couple often brings their work home, studying videos or talking through complicated choreography. But these days they have less free time to think about ballet. Two years ago, they were finally cast together in the lead roles in Don Quixote, the culmination of the dream from their corps days. Afterwards, Dec told Cruz it was time to start a family. "I thought, 'I've gotten to do everything I wanted to do.' I felt so blessed, and I was like, 'What are we waiting for?' "

In January 2016, Dec and Cruz welcomed their son, Koan, into the world. Life with a baby is tough, but Cruz insists that parenthood has made them better artists. "It's like somebody stirs you inside," he says. "When you have a cup of coffee, and all the sugar is on the bottom and you stir it? Something changes inside of you. We've become stronger."

Pointe spent a day with Cruz and Dec to see how they do it all.

Photo by Lindsay Thomas

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Alexis Fletcher rehearsing Crystal Pite's Solo Echo. Photo by Michael Slobodian, Courtesy Ballet BC.

Vancouver, British Columbia's 2010 Olympic Winter Games were golden for more than just big-name athletes.

Like so many Vancouverites at that time, Ballet BC dancer Alexis Fletcher and her husband, former rehearsal director Sylvain Senez, struggled to keep pace with the skyrocketing cost of living. The couple wondered if they could rent out two empty bedrooms to Olympic visitors to help make ends meet. “We posted our place on Craigslist, just to see what would happen," Fletcher explains.

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Murphy wearing one of her designs. Photo by Lindsay Thomas, Courtesy PNB.

On any given day, Pacific Northwest Ballet's rehearsal studios are filled with ballerinas decked out in a rainbow of colorful, innovative leotards—many designed and hand-sewn by principal dancer Elizabeth Murphy.

Murphy didn't grow up sewing. In fact, she didn't even know how to run a sewing machine until she was 18. She didn't want to sit still long enough.

The Chelmsford, Massachusetts, native started dance lessons as a child in her hometown, and by her early teens decided to pursue a dance career. She moved to Pennsylvania to train at The Rock School for Dance Education. While still a student, she danced supplementary roles at Pennsylvania Ballet. Murphy then landed a position with Ballet West II before entering its main company in 2007.

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