Pacific Northwest Ballet Principal Dancer Seth Orza announces retirement, and launch of new business, ORZA

ORZA combines technology and experience to revolutionize dance shoes designed for the next generation of dancers.

August 12, 2021 – SEATTLE, WA – Following a lifelong career in dance, Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Seth Orza has announced his retirement from the company and his leap into a new venture as CEO and Founder of ORZA, a new shoe company committed to the mission of prolonging dancers’ careers by helping to make their feet and bodies feel better. The company’s first product, the ORZA PRO-ONE, has a launch scheduled for this winter.

Seth Orza is from San Francisco, where he grew up in a dance family. All five of his siblings danced, as did his father and mother. He trained at San Francisco Ballet School and on full scholarship at the School of American Ballet. In 1999, he joined New York City Ballet as an apprentice: He was awarded the Mae L. Wien Award for Outstanding Promise that same year. He became a corps de ballet member in 2000, and in 2007 he was promoted to soloist. Mr. Orza joined Pacific Northwest Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet in 2007, was promoted to soloist in 2008 and to principal in 2010.

As a tribute to Mr. Orza and his illustrious career, PNB has created a video celebration including numerous performance clips and testimonials.

“I am grateful to have had a very fulfilling 23-year professional dance career,” said Mr. Orza in his announcement. “I began my career dancing with the New York City Ballet, where I was surrounded by many of the most talented dancers in the world. The time spent there shaped me as an artist, instilling a work ethic that I carry with me still. Joining Pacific Northwest Ballet offered further fulfillment and growth, allowing me the opportunity to pursue family life and other goals. As I say goodbye to this career, I am humbled by the opportunities I have had. I send much affection and respect to those who have guided and supported me and wish the next generation of dancer’s fulfillment of all their wildest dreams.”

“Seth Orza has had a distinguished career as one of America’s leading male dancers,” said Kent Stowell and Francia Russell, PNB’s Founding Artistic Directors, in a statement. “Greatly admired by colleagues, choreographers, directors, and audiences, he is ideally positioned to use his experience to benefit dancers. ORZA PRO-ONE shows unique promise to enhance dancers’ careers and lessen the pain and injuries they have always had to cope with.

“Seth is a man of great intelligence and energy,” continued Stowell and Russell. “The commitment he has shown to developing ORZA is typical of him and guarantees a successful product, of benefit to dancers around the world.”

Being well-acquainted with the injuries that can sideline a dancer throughout their career, Mr. Orza founded ORZA to focus on dancers and their bodies, exploring new and progressive ways to deal with and manage the daily pains and injuries of a dancer. As Founder and CEO, Mr. Orza manages all aspects of the company, including managing the overall operations and resources of the company and acting as the main point of communication between investors and corporate operations.

Mr. Orza began work on his shoe in 2010 and incorporated ORZA in 2013. He has continued to work to fill a unique need entirely unmet in the current marketplace—an innovative patented dance shoe that will perform for dancers in the 2000’s like the innovative Nike shoe performed for runners in the 1970s. Every generation of dancers has tinkered with improvised solutions, all unsatisfactory, to try to address frustrating problems with the conventional shoe, such as overall bulkiness, folds, clumping, bunching, gaps, poor flexibility, slippage, the failure to flatter the foot, and most importantly, the lack of adequate structural support and shock absorbing cushioned padding. Until now, no dance manufacturer has tackled these problems, in fact, the dance shoe has remained basically unchanged since the 1920s.

“Our mission at ORZA is to enhance the dancer’s well-being—and the dancer’s career—by reducing the chance of injury and enhancing dance performance,” said Mr. Orza. “ORZA aims to achieve this with technologically sophisticated breakthrough dance products like the ORZA PRO-ONE dance shoe. We look forward to supporting current and future dance generations.”

For more information and to sign up for product alerts, visit the ORZA website at http://www.ORZAbrand.com.

Early business developmental funding for ORZA was provided in part by Second Stage, PNB’s career transition program for its company dancers. Conceived in 1999, Second Stage supports PNB dancers in achieving their goals following a career in dance. Its resources allow dancers to take classes, access mentors and vocation counseling, and receive grants. At its inception, only a handful of dancers actively planned for their career after dance. Since that time, Second Stage has provided nearly $1.1 million in grants to over 200 dancers. For more information, visit PNB.org.


ADDITIONAL ARTIST BIO INFO

Mr. Orza has danced leading roles in George Balanchine’s Agon, Apollo, Coppélia (Franz), Diamonds, Emeralds, The Four Temperaments, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker® (Cavalier, Herr Drosselmeier), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Divertissement pas de deux, Demetrius, Theseus, Cavalier), Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (Hoofer), Square Dance, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, and Symphony in C; Peter Boal’s Giselle (Albrecht); Val Caniparoli’s The Seasons; David Dawson’s A Million Kisses to My Skin; Ulysses Dove’s Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven, Red Angels, and Serious Pleasures; Nacho Duato’s Jardí Tancat; William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated and One Flat Thing, reproduced; Kiyon Gaines’ Sum Stravinsky; Paul Gibson’s Sense of Doubt, The Piano Dance, and Rush; Ronald Hynd’s The Sleeping Beauty (Prince Florimund, Gold & Silver pas de trois); Jiri Kylian’s Forgotten Land and Petite Mort; Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Cendrillon (Father) and Roméo et Juliette (Romeo, Tybalt); Susan Marshall’s Kiss; Benjamin Millepied’s Appassionata; Mark Morris’ Kammermusik No. 3; Justin Peck’s Year of the Rabbit; Yuri Possokhov’s RAkU (Samurai); Alexei Ratmansky’s Concerto DSCH, Don Quixote (Basilio, Espada), and Pictures at an Exhibition; Jerome Robbins’ Afternoon of a Faun, The Concert, Dances at a Gathering, Fancy Free, Glass Pieces, In the Night, Other Dances, and West Side Story Suite (Riff); Kent Stowell’s Carmina Burana, Cinderella (Prince, Harlequin), Nutcracker (Prince), and Swan Lake (Prince Siegfried); Price Suddarth’s Signature; Twyla Tharp’s Brief Fling, In the Upper Room, Nine Sinatra Songs, Opus 111, and Waterbaby Bagatelles; and Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain pas de deux, Carousel (A Dance), Polyphonia, Tide Harmonic, and Variations Sérieuses (Premier Danseur). He originated leading roles in Millepied’s 3 Movements, Margaret Mullin’s Lost in Light, Jonathan Porretta’s Lacrymosa, Susan Stroman’s TAKE FIVE…More or Less, and Price Suddarth’s The Intermission Project.

At New York City Ballet, Mr. Orza danced leading roles in Balanchine’s Agon, Emeralds, The Four Temperaments, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Bottom, Lysander), The Nutcracker, Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, Symphony in C, and Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2; Peter Martins’ Reliquary and Romeo + Juliet (Romeo); Robbins’ Fancy Free, Fanfare, In Memory Of…, Interplay, and Piano Pieces; and Wheeldon’s Carousel (A Dance), Evenfall, and Polyphonia. He originated featured roles in Albert Evans’s Haiku, Robbins’ NY Export: Opus Jazz (revival), Stroman’s Double Feature, and Richard Tanner’s Soirée.

Mr. Orza has performed on some of the most prestigious stages in the world. In 2009, as a guest artist with San Francisco Ballet in Balanchine’s Emeralds. In 2015, Mr. Orza performed in Sofia, Bulgaria, with the National Opera and Ballet of Bulgaria. In 2019, Mr. Orza was giving the opportunity to perform in Moscow, Russia, for the Benois De Le Dance at the Bolshoi Theatre.


Featured photo: Seth Orza in George Balanchine’s Apollo, photo by Lindsay Thomas.

Photos: Seth Orza in Kent Stowell’s Swan Lake, photo by Angela Sterling. Seth Orza and former PNB dancer Carla Korbes in Jerome Robbins’ Carousel (A Dance), photo by Angela Sterling. Seth Orza and his wife Sarah Ricard Orza in Jerome Robbins’ West Side Story Suite, photo by Angela Sterling.

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