Artistic Director, Pacific Northwest Ballet

Peter Boal

From the moment you set foot in Seattle, you can feel it: art is everywhere.

The thriving arts scene is a priority in this city—in fact, Seattle has been recognized for having more arts-related businesses and organizations per capita than any other metropolitan area in the U.S., according to Americans for the Arts. Artistic Director at Pacific Northwest BalletPeter Boal is one of the contributors to this creative city. Read on for a look at the city through his artistic lens.

Q&A with Peter Boal

When you moved here from New York City 12 years ago, what surprised you the most about Seattle?

I remember going into a coffee shop and there were only three people in line and I thought, “Great, this will go really fast,” and it took 15 minutes because everyone was chatting and asking things like, “How is your dog doing?” It’s a slower pace here. But I also remember my son saying, “Dad, there’s art everywhere here—at the bus stop in Fremont, on the Fremont drawbridge,” and that made me notice the public art all around.

What are your favorite ways to get out in urban nature?

When we first arrived my family decided to go to a different Seattle park every weekend. It took a long time, but it was a great way to get to know the city. When they were younger we loved taking the kids to Golden Gardens and Carkeek Park. Now I gravitate toward secret places. During lunch I love running up to Bhy Kracke Park—it’s a sanctuary with a great view of Lake Union and downtown. There’s another little park next to the Seattle Yacht Club on Portage Bay: Astrid’s Park. It’s right on the water and you can watch the University Bridge going up and down, and see all the houseboats. We also love renting canoes at UW and kayaks at Agua Verde. We’re water people, stone skippers.

Pacific Northwest Ballet is part of Seattle’s vibrant dance scene. What are your other favorite places to see dance?

Seattle has strong dance roots. Merce Cunningham went to Cornish College. Mark Morris grew up here. And Robert Joffrey had his first dance recital here. I frequent Velocity Dance Center, and I love following Donald Byrd’s work with Spectrum Dance—I especially love the setting of Spectrum’s studio, in an old historic building right on Lake Washington. I also go to Meany Hall because they bring such strong touring groups through. STG Presents is also keeping dance at the forefront at both the Moore and the Paramount.

What makes dance a natural fit for Seattle?

Movement is a year-round pursuit here. It’s a big part of life. I walk to work at least once a week. People do yoga at Chihuly Garden and Glass. From the highway you can see people on the REI climbing tower. We’re staging performances amid the art at the Olympic Sculpture Park—incorporating dance into the turf of Seattle. And when the sun comes out people drop everything to get outdoors. I love this city. It really feels like my home.

Interview by Brangien Davis. Photo taken at Olympic Sculpture Park. 


Take a few tips on how to be a better dancer from THE Peter Boal.


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