February 1, 2023 Ike Everard
Jonathan Batista, Principal Dancer with the Pacific Northwest Ballet is at the center of Black protagonism in classical ballet in the United States. He is set to debut the role of “Albert” in the 1841 romantic production of Giselle, re-staged by Artistic Director Peter Boal.
Jonathan Batista will be debuting alongside Angelica Generosa, another Principal with the company. The pair have built popularity amongst audience members, and dance critics have referred to them as Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “The Dynamic Duo”.
In a recent interview, Jonathan addressed the lack of Black protagonism in ballet companies, and how throughout the years, it felt challenging for him to navigate in spaces where he would not be seen for his talent and often suggested that noble roles such as “Albert”, wasn’t fitting or suitable for him.
“It takes representation for you to understand what you can become. I remember walking into The Royal Opera House (in London, UK) and watching Carlos Acosta - A principal dancer with The Royal Ballet, a Black man, performing Principal roles and being celebrated for who he was, his skills, his artistry, and his talent, to realize that I started dreaming of possibilities then, and acknowledged that it was possible for me too.”
With a fruitful career, having joined seven ballet companies and performed in prestigious theaters in the US, Canada, Europe, and South America, Jonathan says he has found his home here in Seattle with the Pacific Northwest Ballet, and his journey has often been one of understanding and healing.
“Performing this one specific role of Albert is a dream come true, and such a healing process for my journey as a ballet dancer, and more so special because, It is the first time in my career that I will be performing right next to fellow Black artists in leading and supporting roles such as Amanda Morgan in the principal role of Myrtha, Dammiel Cruz as Wilfride, and Larry Lancaster as Old Man.” — and other Black members in the ensemble includes Ashton Edwards, Zsilas Michael Hughes, Audrey Malek, Ginabel Peterson, Rosalyn Hutsell, and Destiny Wimpye.
“It is great to be in an environment where you don’t are represented, seen, heard and feel safe to be vulnerable and welcome all the possible experiences that one can have, dream of roles, create new roles, be the protagonist of story-telling ballets that connect with the broad audience and our communities in Washington.
“For me, this will be one of the most meaningful performances of my career. Just like the younger Jonathan that experienced this moment over a decade ago, I hope this performance continues to send a message out there that it is possible to become a leading figure in theatres throughout the United States,” Batista said.
You can find Jonathan and his colleagues in this week’s performance of Giselle on Saturday 02/04 at 2 pm and next week on Friday 10/02 at 7:30 pm at The McCaw Hall in Seattle, WA.
February 1, 2023 Ike Everard