Sarah-Gabrielle Ryan (at right) sang and danced as Maria in Jerome Robbins' West Side Story Suite. Photo by Lindsay Thomas, Courtesy PNB

From Sugar Plum Fairy to Tackling Work by Pite and Forsythe, This PNB Corps Dancer Can Do It All

When Sarah-Gabrielle Ryan was 5 years old, her mother took her to a Pennsylvania Ballet production of Swan Lake. "One day, you'll be a ballerina," her mother said. Ryan replied, "I already am one." Even at that age, Ryan was confident about her future; with good reason, it turns out. Sixteen years later, she's starting her third season at Pacific Northwest Ballet. Though still a corps member, she's already danced Sugar Plum Fairy, featured roles in Crystal Pite's Emergence and William Forsythe's New Suite, and the pas de deux in Balanchine's "Rubies."


Company: Pacific Northwest Ballet

Age: 21

Hometown: Philadelphia

Training: The Rock School for Dance Education, School of Pennsylvania Ballet

What caught Peter Boal's eye: Unlike many PNB dancers, Ryan didn't come up through the company school. She was dancing with Pennsylvania Ballet II when she enrolled in a summer intensive at PNB. Artistic director Peter Boal noticed her immediately: "She was unleashed in her dancing, and relished every combination that was given," he says. "She had a wildness that I admired."

Sarah-Gabrielle Ryan in Christopher Wheeldon's Carousel (A Dance). Photo by Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB

Finding her voice: Ryan loved taking on Maria in Jerome Robbins' West Side Story Suite during her first season in Seattle. "I'd never done singing onstage before," she says. "That was really fun."

Breakout moment: Last November, Ryan stepped in to replace principal Noelani Pantastico in the American premiere of Pite's Plot Point. "That was terrifying," Ryan says. "I was learning a different part, then at the last minute Noe got in a car accident and they said, 'Sarah, you're going to learn this!' I took a studio video home and I learned the heck out of that dance."

Beyond ballet: Ryan is enrolled part-time in a special college program offered at PNB through Seattle University. Instructors come to the studio after rehearsals." I have an interest in a double major that involves arts management but also wildlife rehabilitation," she says. "I'm looking into a program where I'd work rehabilitating rhinos in South Africa."

Biggest challenge: "In general, I'm probably my harshest critic. I'm still learning how to be self-critical without being self-destructive."

Latest Posts


Susanne Carmina Cansino with her husband Jack Beaber in 1974, Courtesy Lili Schwartz

Susanne Carmina Cansino, the Last Original Member of the Dancing Cansinos, Is Dead at 90

Susanne Carmina Cansino was born on April 21, 1930, and passed on April 10, 2021, at the age of 90. She was born at the Carnegie Hall Studio apartments, to ballet dancer Susita Rossi and Spanish dancer Angel Cansino, an original member of the Dancing Cansino family. Susanne was one of two Cansino children born at the famed Carnegie location; the second was her cousin Antonio Cansino III, born to family member and Spanish dancer Antonio Cansino II and his wife, dancer Catherine Stoneburn.

Cansino was introduced to her first audience over the New York radio waves to advertise her recent appearance in the movie short Starlets; she was 7 years old and was featured as the youngest Spanish dance member of the Dancing Cansinos.

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS
February 2021