PNB Principal Dancer Noelani Pantastico Announces Retirement

SEATTLE, WA — Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Noelani Pantastico has announced that after a 25-year dancing career, she is retiring to accept a position on the faculty of Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB). Pantastico trained at CPYB before being hired at PNB in 1997. She was promoted to soloist in 2001 and principal in 2004. In 2008 she left PNB to join Les Ballets de Monte Carlo; in 2015 she returned to PNB.

“Leaving this magnificent career is one of the most difficult, heart-wrenching decisions of my life, but I am fortunate to be taking this leap with a clear sense of purpose and overwhelming excitement for what’s to come,” said Ms. Pantastico. “Were it not for the confidence instilled in me at my first PNB summer course in 1994, I would not have pursued a future in dance, nor become the artist I am today. I am thankful for every voice, both past and present, that has inspired me along the way, and I am especially grateful to Peter Boal, Jean-Christophe Maillot, Francia Russell, and Kent Stowell, who have each given me pivotal opportunities to grow, flourish, and to live this beautiful existence. Throughout my career I have always remained open to the realm of possibility – not only in my work as a dancer, but also in the exploration of new ways to evolve with the art form. I am thrilled to continue this journey by returning full circle to my early roots at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet where I will be able to give back all that I have learned to the next generation of aspiring artists.”

Founded in 1955 by Marcia Dale Weary, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet is known throughout the world for providing world-class classical ballet training. Its students have gone on to careers in every major company in the United States: In addition to Ms. Pantastico, current PNB company dancers who are CPYB alumni include principal dancer Leta Biasucci, corps de ballet dancer Abby Jayne DeAngelo, and apprentice Zsilas Michael Hughes. (Visit CPYB.org for more information.)

Ms. Pantastico plans to continue as Co-Artistic Director of Seattle Dance Collective, the company she founded in 2019 with fellow PNB principal dancer James Yoichi Moore. (Visit seattledancecollective.org for more information.)

PNB audiences have one more opportunity to watch Ms. Pantastico perform, in the lead role of Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Roméo et Juliette, February 4 – 13. Ms. Pantastico is scheduled to dance on opening night (Friday, February 4 at 7:30 pm) and closing matinee (Sunday, February 13 at 1:00 pm) as well as additional performances to be announced: visit PNB.org for up-to-date casting. Tickets to Roméo et Juliette may be purchased through the PNB Box Office, 206.441.2424, online at PNB.org, or in person at 301 Mercer Street.

“Noe has always been an absolutely transcendent artist,” said PNB Artistic Director Peter Boal. “Her technique, timing, and instincts are impeccable. She has a singular ability to connect with audiences allowing us to savor every facet of humanity. Offstage, Noe brings care and compassion to her peers on a daily basis. She is a true role model. How lucky her students will be to have her wealth of experience and humility enter their classroom. I didn’t know Noe before I came to PNB, but I will never forget listening to Kent and Francia describe, in the most glowing terms, her first performance of Aurora. It wasn’t long before I understood their zeal. And though I recognized Noe’s need to leave the nest and try her wings with Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, I carried a weight of sadness about her departure until she returned seven years later. I suspect I’ll feel that sadness again as this great artist and remarkable individual takes her final bow on our stage. The list of ballets Noe has inhabited with such grace and authority is long, but amongst many cherished roles, Juliet stands out as perhaps the most defining in an extraordinary career.”

“When Noelani told us she will be moving on to the next phase of her career, our reaction was first deep sadness, followed by a flood of vivid images of magical Noe in the many roles she made her own,” said PNB Founding Artistic Directors Kent Stowell and Francia Russell, in a statement. “A brilliant technician and instinctive actress, she was our golden girl who evolved into a true ballerina, a role model for her colleagues, and a joy for her audiences. In her new position we know she will bring all her experience, her knowledge and her unique gifts, which include strength and empathy, to preparing young dancers for fulfilling careers in dance.”

“I am honored to welcome Noelani back to CPYB,” said CEO (and former PNB company dancer and PNB School principal) Nicholas Ade. “Knowing her experience as a dancer in so many prestigious realms, and as a person and mentor to other dancers is something that I am bursting at the seams to have our students experience. Having the pleasure of even discussing this possibility over the last few days has made me smile and inspired for CPYB for years to come. Truly a selfless person without ego, when she says it’s time to give back, she means it…it’s about the students.”

Darla Hoover, CPYB Artistic Director and incoming chair of faculty at The School of American Ballet, added: “The dance world is losing a truly exquisite ballerina. Noelani combines great technical proficiency with one of the most beautiful souls I have ever known. I am ecstatic that she is bringing her talents full circle and coming home to CPYB. The students are so fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from someone who has had such rich experiences in the dance world and has a beautiful heart to go with it.”

Noelani Pantastico is from Oahu, Hawaii. She trained at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and attended summer courses at Pacific Northwest Ballet School from 1994 to 1996. She joined Pacific Northwest Ballet as an apprentice in 1997. She was promoted to corps de ballet in 1998, soloist in 2001, and principal in 2004. In 2008, she left PNB to join Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo as a soloist and was promoted to first soloist in 2009. In 2015, she returned to PNB as a principal dancer.

Ms. Pantastico has danced leading roles in George Balanchine’s Agon, Apollo, Ballet Imperial, Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, Chaconne, Concerto Barocco, Coppélia, Diamonds, Divertimento No. 15, Duo Concertant, Emeralds, The Four Temperaments, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Rubies, Serenade, La Sonnambula, La Source, Square Dance, Stars and Stripes, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Symphony in C, Symphony in Three Movements, Theme and Variations, La Valse, and Who Cares?; Val Caniparoli’s The Bridge, Lambarena, and Torque; Alejandro Cerrudo’s Little mortal jump, One Thousand Pieces, and Silent Ghost; David Dawson’s Empire Noir;  Nacho Duato’s Jardí Tancat and Rassemblement; William Forsythe’s In the Middle Somewhat Elevated and New Suite; Paul Gibson’s Rush; Ronald Hynd’s The Merry Widow and The Sleeping Beauty; Jessica Lang’s Her Door to the Sky and Ghost Variations; Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Cendrillon and Roméo et Juliette; Peter Martins’ Fearful Symmetries; Mark Morris’s Pacific; Kevin O’Day’s [soundaroun(d)ance]; David Parsons’s Caught; Justin Peck’s Year of the Rabbit; Kirk Peterson’s Amazed in Burning Dreams; Marius Petipa’s Esmeralda Pas de Deux and Paquita; Crystal Pite’s Emergence and Plot Point; Yuri Possokhov’s RAkU; Alexei Ratmansky’s Pictures at an Exhibition; Jerome Robbins’ Afternoon of a Faun, The Concert, Fancy Free, In the Night, Opus 19/The Dreamer, Other Dances, and West Side Story Suite; Kent Stowell’s Carmen, Carmina Burana, Cinderella, Coppélia, Duo Fantasy, Firebird, Hail to the Conquering Hero, Nutcracker, Palacios Dances, Pas de Deux Campagnolo, Quaternary, Silver Lining, Swan Lake, and The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet; Susan Stroman’s TAKE FIVE…More or Less; Lynne Taylor-Corbett’s The Ballad of You and Me, Mercury, and The Quilt; Glen Tetley’s Voluntaries; Twyla Tharp’s Brief Fling, In the Upper Room, Nine Sinatra Songs, Waiting at the Station, and Waterbaby Bagatelles; and Christopher Wheeldon’s Polyphonia. Kent Stowell created Dual Lish for Ms. Pantastico in 2004. She also originated leading roles in Kyle Davis’ A Dark and Lonely Space and Las Estrellas, Dominique Dumais’ Time and other Matter, Paul Gibson’s The Piano Dance and Sense of Doubt, Amanda Morgan’s This Space Left Intentionally Blank, Miles Pertl’s Wash of Gray, Victor Quijada’s Suspension of Disbelief, Penny Saunders’ ALICE, Eva Stone’s F O I L, Christopher Stowell’s Quick Time and Zaïs, and Price Suddarth’s The Intermission Project. 

At Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, Ms. Pantastico danced roles in Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Altro Canto, La Belle, Cendrillon, Choré, Faust, Men’s Dance for Women, Opus 40, Roméo et Juliette, Scheherazade, Le Songe, and Vers un Pays Sage; Marie Chouinard’s Body Remix; Alexander Eckman’s Rondo; Nicolo Fonte’s Quiet Bang; William Forsythe’s New Sleep; Emio Greco and Peter Scholten’s Le Corps du Ballet; Natalia Horeçna’s Tales Absurd, Fatalistic Visions Predominate; Johan Inger’s In Exact; Jiri Kylian’s Petite Mort; Pontus Lidberg’s Summer’s Winter Shadow; Matjash Mrozewski’s Pavillon d’Armide; and Jeroen Verbruggen’s Kill Bambi. She originated roles in Maillot’s Casse-Noisette Compagnie and Lac.

Ms. Pantastico was featured in the BBC’s 1999 film version of PNB’s production of Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, filmed at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London. In 2004, she performed the second movement of Balanchine’s Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet as a guest artist for New York City Ballet’s Balanchine Centennial.

In 2017, she choreographed Picnic for Sculptured Dance, a collaboration between Pacific Northwest Ballet and Seattle Art Museum presented at Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park.

Three years ago, Ms. Pantastico added to her passionate pursuits by co-founding Seattle Dance Collective (SDC) with fellow PNB Principal Dancer James Yoichi Moore.  Following sold-out debut performances in 2019, SDC has since commissioned ten new works for film, garnering film festival recognition around the world, and built a loyal audience following which continues to expand. Ms. Pantastico will continue as Co-Artistic Director for the foreseeable future. 


Featured photo: Noelani Pantastico in George Balanchine’s Emeralds, choreography by George Balanchine © The Balanchine Trust. Photo © Angela Sterling.

Photos: Noelani Pantastico in Kent Stowell’s Swan Lake, photo © Angela Sterling. Noelani Pantastico in rehearsal for Cinderella with Kent Stowell, photo © Lindsay Thomas. Noelani Pantastico in George Balanchine’s Emeralds, photo © Angela Sterling. Noelani Pantastico in Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Cendrillon, photo © Angela Sterling. Noelani Pantastico and former Principal dancer Seth Orza in Kent Stowell’s Cinderella, photo © Angela Sterling. Noelani Pantastico and Seth Orza in Swan Lake, photo © Angela Sterling. Noelani Pantastico in rehearsal for Kent Stowell’s Swan Lake, photo © Lindsay Thomas. Noelani Pantastico and Lucien Postlewaite in Alejandro Cerrudo’s Silent Ghost, photo © Angela Sterling. Noelani Pantastico and James Yoichi Moore in Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Roméo et Juliette, photo © Angela Sterling. Noelani Pantastico and Seth Orza in Jerome Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering, photo © Angela Sterling. Noelani Pantastico in Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Roméo et Juliette, photo © Angela Sterling.

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