College of Arts and Sciences
Endowed Chairs and Partnerships

Pacific Northwest Ballet Educational Partnership

  • Since the fall of 2003, Seattle University has partnered with the Pacific Northwest Ballet to provide the foundations of a university education to the company dancers. Housed in the College of Arts and Sciences, the partnership provides PNB company dancers as well as PNB’s Professional Division students a unique opportunity to complete most of Seattle University’s Core curriculum while they pursue their careers in dance.

    This exciting partnership was borne out of a response to a specific need identified by Second Stage, a branch of PNB’s union resources that is charged with helping dancers prepare for life after dance. Because professional dancers have typically been recruited in their early to mid-teens, many PNB dancers have non-traditional educational experiences: some have attended high schools for the performing arts while dancing full-time, some have completed high school by correspondence, others have not yet completed high school. Further, their demanding schedules as professional dancers and dancers-in-training make it very difficult to attend traditional university classes. Because professional dancers also typically retire from their dance careers in their early to mid thirties (if not before), without a university education they are at a distinct disadvantage when exploring their options for a second career.

    Offering one course per quarter, the College of Arts and Sciences, with the help of other colleges, stepped the first cohort of dancers through the majority of the University’s Core curriculum (in addition to two courses from the Albers School of Business, one in public speaking, and one in pre-law) and guided a number through their GEDs in preparation for admission into SU’s program. In the fall of 2007, Arts and Sciences launched a second cohort of dancers who are currently making their way through Phase One Core courses. We expect to run this cohort for two more years before launching the third cohort.

    Not only is this program beneficial to the dancers, the partnership provides a wonderful teaching opportunity to faculty who want to bring their teaching out of a traditional classroom and connect directly with Seattle’s arts community, enriching their own perspectives and approaches with those of a diverse, talented, and disciplined group of students. Further, by providing opportunities for intellectual exploration and academic achievement, this partnership realizes Seattle University’s mission to educate the whole person by helping each dancer recognize the implications of his or her talents both on and off the stage.

    For more information, please contact:
    Jennifer Schulz, Interim Director
    PNB-SU Educational Partnership
    Casey 503, 296-5353,
    For more information, please visit

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