Jonathan Batista Becomes First Black Black Principal Dancer For Pacific Northwest Ballet

Pacific Northwest Ballet/ Lindsay Thomas and Angela Sterling

Jonathan Batista has made history by becoming the first Black principal dancer in the 50-year existence of the Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle, Washington.

Batista told local radio station KUOW-FM that having the highest rank as a ballet dancer means a lot to him and the Black dance community.

“Being the first Black dancer in 50 years of Pacific Northwest Ballet, this is a moment for young Black boys, young Black girls, that want to dance, that want to see themselves on that stage,” he said.

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Batista, originally from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, joined the organization as a soloist in 2021 before being promoted to principal dancer this year. He has performed with companies from all over the world, where he is often the only Black member of the company.

“It is such an honor to be in this position. It also is a moment where I think, ‘Wow, it took 50 years for [a] Black man, for [a] Black person, to become a principal dancer.’”

Of the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s 46 dancers, Batista is one of only nine who identify as Black. He spent four years with Oklahoma City Ballet before joining this company and making history. 

He attended the English National Ballet School and summer intensives at The Royal Ballet School in London and Miami City Ballet School. 

He has also performed with legendary companies including the Cincinnati Ballet, the Boston Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada.

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