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Show and Tell: Pacific Northwest Ballet's 'Pinocchio'

No lie: At an hour long, the perfect introduction to ballet

Published on: March 19, 2014

Fox and Cat

The bottom line

Pacific Northwest Ballet's Pinocchio (which has just one more performance) is a wonderful introduction to ballet for kids. The beautifully executed dance numbers and creative choreography make for a stunning story that all ages can appreciate. The hour-long performance is the perfect length for fledgling theatergoers. 


Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Family Matinee Series production of Pinocchio, the classic tale of a puppet who yearns to be a real boy was conceived and choreographed by Bruce Wells. It's the perfect introduction to ballet: I didn't realize that the production didn't feature PNB Company dancers until I read it on the program after the show, and would never have guessed based on the talent of the 70-plus Pacific Northwest Ballet School student performers. 

The story begins with a group of puppets rehearsing for the evening’s performance, where a grown-up, “real-boy” version of Pinocchio tells his story to the curious crowd. We follow Pinocchio through captivating dance scenes in Geppetto’s workshop, to the stage of the puppet theater and on an epic adventure through dark woods and roaring waves of the ocean.

Every scene is full of enchanting choreography and colorful characters. My kids were particularly intrigued by the Blue Fairy, with her throng of graceful helpers. The cunning Fox and Cat, who swindle Pinocchio out of his hard-earned coins, were nimble on their feet and performed beautifully. 

The highlight was the ocean scene, where creative use of blue fabric simulating waves and a whale figure held by dancers brought the set to life. A stunning performance by Neptune, the king of the sea, and his mermaid court made for a magical undersea number.

The story's lessons of honesty and friendship resonated with my 4-year-old, who wondered aloud why her nose doesn't grow when she tells lies. 

The hour-long performance was the perfect length for my children, ages 4 and 6, who struggle with sitting for long periods and are generally rambunctious. They had never seen a ballet before and were a little thrown off by the fact that the dancers didn't talk directly to one another, but they adjusted to the idea of the story and dialogue being narrated fairly quickly.

Blue fairy

Parent should know

This ballet is especially suited for sensitive children who might be easily frightened by darker characters or plot points. Even the swindling fox and cat were serene and graceful to watch.

If your child likes dressing up in ballet garb, this is a perfect opportunity to don the tutu and leotards. Many children were joyfully flaunting fancy ballet outfits, which my daughter eyed with envy. 

Kid quote

“How can I learn how to dance like the Blue Fairy? She's so fancy.”

Parent tips

  • Complimentary booster seats are available. Binoculars can be rented for $5, or you may bring your own.
  • Everyone, including babes in arms, must have a ticket.
  • Food is not permitted in the auditorium.
  • There are several concession areas and a full service restaurant at McCaw Hall. 
  • Try to arrive early. There are craft and activities for children before the show where kids can make and decorate puppet hats.
  • If your child has difficulty watching and listening quietly during the performance, you have the option of watching it on monitors in the lobby. 
  • The Mercer Garage is connected to McCaw Hall by a sky bridge. Rates vary between $5-$15 depending on demand. Street parking is limited to four hours, but works perfectly for the hour-long matinee. There are also additional private parking lots throughout the area.
  • Bus service to the Seattle Center is provided by numerous Metro Transit routes


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