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Jonathan Batista is promoted to Principal Dancer - The First Black Principal Dancer in the history

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

Jonathan Batista who joined PNB just one year ago, was a star with Oklahoma City Ballet for 4 years, then decided to take on a new leap of faith when contacting Peter Boal requesting an audition; Their conversation took a week to settle until a decision was made, Jonathan moved to Seattle, WA to join one of the most prestigious companies in the country.

Jonathan is a graduate from English National Ballet School, having also studied in summer intensives at The Royal Ballet School in London, UK and Miami City Ballet School under former Founder Artistic Director, the legendary Edward Villella (George Balanchine’s Prodigal Son).

Once graduated from English National Ballet School, Jonathan went on to have quite a fulfilled career performing with prestigious companies in North America such as Miami City Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada, Boston Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, and Oklahoma City Ballet prior to joining Pacific Northwest Ballet as a Soloist for the 2021-2022 season.

“I was incredibly fortunate to have had such a fruitful career, and yet I haven’t done this on my own, I am eternally grateful for my friends, family, mentors, coaches, therapists and people who believed in my talent, and my mission.”

Jonathan Batista has become the first black person to ever reach the high rank of Principal Dancer with Pacific Northwest Ballet, having the late Kabby Mitchell being the first black man to join Pacific Northwest Ballet in 1979 reaching the ranks of soloist, and following in his footprint , Kiyon Ross Gaines joning in 2001 and retiring in 2015 as a soloist. – Laura Brown, the first black woman joined the company in 1980, and Amanda Morgan who joined in 2017.

“It is an honour to be acknowledged for my talent and become Principal Dancer with Pacific Northwest Ballet, it has always been a dream of mine, and to have this opportunity is really special and of such importance to me as a black man, my community and the ballet world. We are living in such important moment in ballet, where we are redefining diversity and inclusion, celebrating cultures onstage through art and talent.”

During Jonathan’s promotion night, he performed with Principal Dancer Angelica Generosa in George Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante – A partnership that has brought audiences on their feet longing to see more of the pair in future performances.

Followed by their performance Peter Boal (Artistic Director of Pacific Northwest Ballet), brought Jonathan to the stage and said:

- “Jonathan Batista, originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was informed of the merits of Pacific Northwest Ballet by former Principal dancer, Karel Cruz. Jonathan joined us as a soloist only one year ago. His exuberance for contemporary and classical dance is evidenced every time he steps on stage. His joy of movement and commitment to character has audiences cheering and online fans fawning. At home in the works of Alejandro Cerrudo, Twyla Tharp, Ulysses Dove, and George Balanchine, Jonathan holds a passion for the new, and a desire to explore the unknown. His wonderfully matched partnership with Angelica Generosa offers both bond and bravura. Beyond the stage, Jonathan is devoted to funding and inspiring young dancers in his native Brazil and worldwide. Let us applaud Jonathan on his well-deserved promotion to Principal dancer.”

“My ultimate goal is to continue to shine light on black artists and dancers, more stories need to be told, heard and seen, that is what diversity informs, I am definitely not alone when it comes to talented black dancers. Although welcoming black dancers in companies is important, it is equally important to give their talents accessibility, the opportunity to be included and their talents rewarded.” - Jonathan says.

You can find Jonathan in this last week’s of Pacific Northwest Ballet Program I performances on Friday 09/30 in George Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante and Carmina Burana on Sunday 10/02 at The McCaw Hall in Seattle, WA.

September 30th, 2022 - By Converge

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