Since the fall of 2003, Seattle University has partnered with the Pacific Northwest Ballet to provide a high-quality 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 begin and/or complete their college degrees while they are actively engaging 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. For more information, please visit https://www.pnb.org/aboutpnb/second-stage/
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 through on-line curriculum platforms, 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 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. The College launched a second cohort of dancer-scholars in 2007. In 2015, in response to the interests and needs of the dancers, the College approved an undergraduate degree program in Interdisciplinary Arts with a specialization in Arts Leadership that was tailor-made for the dancers and has become a sought-out program delivered to traditional SU students as well. For more information, please click here
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 their creative, intellectual, and vocational potential both on and off the stage.
For more information, please contact:
Jennifer Schulz, Director, PNB-SU Educational Partnership