Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Jonathan Porretta in Coppélia, choreography by Alexandra Danilova and George Balanchine [Photo Angela Sterling]
(Seattle, WA) — Pacific Northwest Ballet artistic director Peter Boal and principal dancer Jonathan Porretta have announced that after a 20-year career with the Company, Mr. Porretta – one of PNB’s most beloved dancers since 1999 – will retire at the end of the 2018-19 season. Mr. Porretta’s acclaimed career will be celebrated at PNB’s Season Encore Performance on Sunday, June 9, 2019.
“You can’t not notice Jonathan Porretta,” said Mr. Boal. “Part powerhouse, part poet and pure thrill. Jonathan leaves it all on the stage in every performance and it is with tremendous gratitude that we salute his robust career on the bittersweet occasion of his retirement.
“When I taught my first ballet class at the School of American Ballet almost 25 years ago, Jonathan was there, full of pep, promise and dedication. He was in the early stages of transforming from Energizer bunny to danseur noble. I was so pleased for him when he received a contract with PNB and even more pleased to reconnect with this super-talented dynamo a few years later when I moved to Seattle.
“I witnessed a few of his early triumphs in ballets by Kent [Stowell] like his airborne Jester in Swan Lake, the charming Dual Lish with Noelani Pantastico, and in many Balanchine roles staged and coached by Francia [Russell], including his meddlesome Puck, quicksilver Oberon, and arresting Prodigal Son. His performances as the Chosen One in Glen Tetley’s Rite of Spring and then in Molissa Fenley’s State of Darkness to the same Stravinsky score are etched deep in my memory. Rubies; Square Dance; In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated; Carabosse; Caught; Coppélia’s Franz; Fancy Free – the list is long and the memories dear. And through his entire career Jonathan has been unabashedly Jonathan, breaking molds, inspiring others, supporting friends, winning hearts, and spreading joy. How lucky we have been to share in this artist’s journey.”
“I am genuinely so proud of my 20-year career with PNB,” said Mr. Porretta. “I can’t even believe it’s been 20 years! It has truly been a dream come true and there aren’t enough words in the universe to convey just how much I have loved dancing here. This is and will always be my home. I feel so privileged to have gotten to dance under the directorship of three incredible directors, Kent Stowell, Francia Russell, and Peter Boal.”
“I was in the very first class Peter Boal ever taught at the School of American Ballet and I was in awe of him. He was one of my ballet idols. Getting to work with him as an adult was poetic. Getting to learn from him these past 14 years has been a gift that I will forever treasure.”
“I have never truly thanked Kent Stowell for seeing something in me during that summer Krammy class [taught by legendary instructor Andrei Kramarevsky] in 1999. He offered me my contract after watching me that day in class and made me feel special. He choreographed roles and ballets on me and he nurtured and celebrated the side of me that a lot of others tried to diminish and change. He never once made me feel ashamed of what made me… me. He always made me feel special and loved.”
“Francia Russell: Where to begin? Thank you for never settling for anything but the best. Thank you for teaching me so much. Thank you for all your amazing wisdom and nuance. Thank you for your guidance and patience. And love and class. Thank you for everything. I still strive to this day to make Franny proud of me! And I think I will always want to make her proud for the rest of my life.”
“This career is as much my Mom’s as it is mine. She’s my best friend, and my hero. She has been my biggest supporter and number-one fan for 37 years and there’s no one I look up to more than her.”
Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Jonathan Porretta in Jerome Robbins’ Fancy Free [Photo Angela Sterling]
“When I think about my life with PNB all I can do is smile. I am genuinely so proud and fulfilled. It’s a bit of a blur, to be honest. Part of me still feels like I’m 18 and I’m going to get in trouble for standing so far out in the wings watching Patricia Barker just nailing Paquita – true story. I have loved dancing in this company. There have been so many amazing, inspiring artists and friends that I’ve gotten to dance and grow with. I never imagined making such close relationships with so many special, remarkable people. We really are a family.”
“For the past six years I’ve been dealing with an injury that turned into two surgeries and I was still in constant pain. It was painful just to walk. I kept it hidden as well as I could, but it’s ultimately the reason why I decided to retire. I had planned my retirement for the end of the 2019 season and just prayed that I would be able to get back on stage a few more times before that day would come. Then suddenly, on January 19, 2018, I ruptured my Achilles tendon. I know that this decision is the right one for me at this time. I have no regrets and am so incredibly fulfilled by these amazing years. The stage will always be my most favorite place and my first true love.”
PNB’s Season Encore Performance will be presented one night only, Sunday, June 9 at 6:30 pm. The performance will include a special tribute to Jonathan Porretta. Tickets go on sale to the general public starting Tuesday, January 22.
The PNB Box Office may be reached by calling 206.441.2424, in person at 301 Mercer Street at Seattle Center, or online at PNB.org. (Schedule, programming and casting are subject to change. For up-to-date casting information, check performance details on PNB.org.)
ADDITIONAL ARTIST BIO INFORMATION
Jonathan Porretta is from Totowa, New Jersey. He trained on full scholarship at the School of American Ballet. Mr. Porretta joined Pacific Northwest Ballet as an apprentice in 1999. He was promoted to corps de ballet in 2000, soloist in 2002, and principal in 2005. Mr. Porretta has danced with Dances Patrelle in New York and performed as a guest artist with Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theatre, and San Francisco Opera Ballet.
Mr. Porretta has danced leading roles in George Balanchine’s Agon, Coppélia (Franz), Divertimento from “Le Baiser de la Fée”, The Four Temperaments, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Oberon, Puck), Prodigal Son, Rubies, Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (Morrisine), Square Dance, Symphony in C, and Symphony in Three Movements; Peter Boal’s Giselle (Peasant pas de deux); Todd Bolender’s Souvenirs; Val Caniparoli’s The Bridge, Lambarena and Torque; Alejandro Cerrudo’s Memory Glow; David Dawson’s A Million Kisses to My Skin; Ulysses Dove’s Red Angels and Serious Pleasures; Nacho Duato’s Rassemblement; Molissa Fenley’s solo State of Darkness; William Forsythe’s Artifact II, In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, New Suite, One Flat Thing, reproduced, and The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude; Marco Goecke’s Mopey; Ronald Hynd’s The Sleeping Beauty (Carabosse, Gold and Silver pas de trois, Bluebird pas de deux); Jiri Kylian’s Forgotten Land; Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Roméo et Juliette (Mercutio); Peter Martins’ Fearful Symmetries; Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Cylindrical Shadows; Mark Morris’ A Garden and Kammermusik No. 3; David Parsons’ Caught; Kirk Peterson’s Amazed in Burning Dreams; Marius Petipa’s Paquita; Crystal Pite’s Emergence; Alexei Ratmansky’s Concerto DSCH, Don Quixote (Sancho Panza), and Pictures at an Exhibition; Jerome Robbins’ Circus Polka, The Concert, Dances at a Gathering, and Fancy Free; Kent Stowell’s Carmina Burana, Cinderella (Prince, Jester), Hail to the Conquering Hero, Nutcracker (Prince), Silver Lining, Swan Lake (Jester), and The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet (Mercutio); Susan Stroman’s TAKE FIVE…More or Less; Richard Tanner’s Ancient Airs and Dances; Lynne Taylor-Corbett’s The Ballad of You and Me and Mercury; Glen Tetley’s The Rite of Spring and Voluntaries; Twyla Tharp’s Afternoon Ball, Brief Fling, In the Upper Room, Nine Sinatra Songs, and Waterbaby Bagatelles; and Christopher Wheeldon’s Polyphonia. In 2004, Mr. Stowell choreographed Dual Lish for Mr. Porretta and Noelani Pantastico. He also originated leading roles in Andrew Bartee’s arms that work, Nicolo Fonte’s Almost Tango, Kiyon Gaines’ Do. Not. Obstruct., “Folly” á deux and Sum Stravinsky, Goecke’s Place a Chill, Kevin O’Day’s [soundaroun(d)ance], Victor Quijada’s Suspension of Disbelief, Christopher Stowell’s Quick Time and Zaïs, and Tharp’s Opus 111 and Waiting at the Station, and a featured role in Dominique Dumais’ Time and other Matter.
2016 saw the publication of Out There: Jonathan Porretta’s Life in Dance by Marcie Sillman, featuring photos by Angela Sterling. The book’s message – “Be yourself and people will love you for who you are” – comes through clearly in Sillman’s engaging prose. Family snapshots complement Sterling’s dance photography to shine a spotlight on Porretta’s career. Out There: Jonathan Porretta’s Life in Dance is available for purchase through Amusements Gift Shop (AmusementsGiftShop.com or 206.774.4990.)
For further information, please visit: PNB.org.