A scene from Olivier Wevers' "A Midsummer Night's Dream" with the Nick Bottom character in the center.
World-renowned ballerina Patricia Barker, a Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer for 20 years, is now making her mark offstage, just as she did onstage. She has used her PNB experience, both as a dancer and as an instructor, to reinvigorate a Michigan ballet company. Next week, she will bring her troupe to Seattle for performances that reflect her roots and her ambitions to contribute to ballet's future.
After her celebrated career as a performer here ended in 2007, Barker worked internationally staging George Balanchine’s works before becoming Artistic Director of Grand Rapids Ballet in 2011, a position she had held on an interim basis for a year. She was instrumental in preventing the regional company, which is Michigan’s only professional ballet company, from shutting its doors. And, under her direction, both the size of the company and the breadth of the works it performs have grown.
Now, the Eastern Washington native is reaching another milestone, bringing Grand Rapids Ballet’s 33 dancers to the Pacific Northwest for a five-day run of performances. “I’m going home and bringing my dancers to Seattle,” she says. While the company is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Barker and husband, Michael Auer, have kept their Seattle home and return a few times a year.
Although Barker brought the company to Bellevue for performances at the Meydenbauer Center in 2014, this will be Grand Rapids Ballet first Seattle appearance in its 44 years. Getting here took a lot of hard work.
Leslie Holleran regularly writes about arts and culture for print and online publications. Her work has appeared in national dance publications and in Seattle newspapers and magazines. She comes to Crosscut following completion of UW's editing certificate program in summer 2015.