Ballet San Jose

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Ballet San Jose was a ballet company based in San Jose, California, USA, operating from 1986 to 2016.


The company was founded in 1986 as the "San Jose Cleveland Ballet," a co-venture with the ten-year-old Cleveland Ballet which offered to the dancers added performing exposure, and each city a ballet company for a moderate, shared investment. In 2000, the Cleveland Ballet ceased operations, and over half the dancers, the headquarters, and artistic director/choreographer Dennis Nahat moved to San Jose to continue operations there. The company was originally known as Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley, but in July 2006 shortened its name to simply Ballet San Jose.

In 2003 the company gained benefactor and current chairman of the board John Fry, co-founder of Fry's Electronics.[1] Fry helped the company survive the dot-com crash and has continued to support the company as it has struggled since. Over the years Ballet San Jose relied increasingly on Fry's support, prompting Karen Loewenstern, founding board chair of Cleveland Ballet and Ballet San Jose, to say "...he bought himself a ballet company."[2]

By 2007, there was a resident company of 44 dancers from 14 countries in four continents, with a repertoire of over 120 traditional and modern classical ballets. Performances at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts are accompanied by the Symphony Silicon Valley. The Ballet is now a 'fully owned' resident company serving all of Silicon Valley.

On December 23, 2011, Ballet San Jose announced[3] a partnership with American Ballet Theatre (ABT) which will license the company "to implement ABT's comprehensive National Training Curriculum for dancers".[4]

In January 2012, long-standing conflict between Nahat and the management board,[5] resulted in Nahat being "ousted"[6] from the company.[2] Shortly after, Fry stepped down from the board, replaced as chair by Lorraine Gilmore of Edison Pharmaceuticals. Kathy Kolder, Vice President of Fry's Electronics, remained on the board with Fry's intending to continue its financial support.[7]

Artistic direction was shared for two seasons by Principal Ballet Master Raymond Rodriguez and Artistic Advisor Wes Chapman. George Daugherty was appointed Music Director and Principal Conductor in August, 2012.[8][9] José Manuel Carreño has been appointed Artistic Director effective September 2013.[10]

In 2015, it changed its name again to Silicon Valley Ballet.

In March 2016, the Ballet announced it was closing.[11] The school stayed open and eventually became the New Ballet School.


The company developed a repertoire of over 120 traditional and modern classical ballets, performed by dancers from Argentina, Canada, China, Cuba, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Venezuela, Vietnam, and the United States. The repertoire includes ballets by Balanchine, Bournonville, de Mille, as well as specially-created ballets by founder Dennis Nahat. The company performs both classic ballets such as The Nutcracker and Swan Lake and more modern ballets such as Blue Suede Shoes,[12] based on Elvis Presley's songs.

In 2008, the company performed an 8-city tour of China. Called the "Goodwill Tour From Silicon Valley," it represented the first international tour of the Company since its move from Cleveland.[13]

Artistic direction[edit]

Preparations for the 2012 season were delayed, with the dancers' contract being finalized in December 2011 and rehearsals for any performances other than The Nutcracker not begun by mid-December.[1] The company's web site on January 5, 2012 had not announced its 2012 season,[14] but a "shortened"[15] season was later announced, with programs for March, April and May.[16] Although earlier reports[1][17] that Artistic Director Dennis Nahat might be replaced were subsequently denied,[4] his role in the company remained unclear and the 2012 program will be chosen by the artistic committee and the board of directors.[4] In January 2012, the ballet removed Nahat from his role as artistic director[2] and he left the company in early 2012.[18]

The company danced to recorded music for its spring 2012 repertory season, but all 2012–2013 performances are being accompanied by Symphony Silicon Valley, including new productions of The Nutcracker in December 2012, a new full-length Don Quixote in February 2013, as well as such pieces of mixed repertoire as Sir Frederick Ashton's Lez Rendez-vous and Thais Pas de Deux, and Clark Tippet's Bruch Violin Concerto.[8][9] Beginning in 2013, the ballet's performances were danced to recorded music instead of a live orchestra.[citation needed]


The Ballet's school, the Ballet San Jose School, was established in 1996.[19] The school was expected to continue to operate despite the closure of the ballet.[11]


  1. ^ a b c Hunt, Mary Ellen (December 13, 2011). "San Jose Ballet's Dennis Nahat may be forced out". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved January 5, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Hunt, Mary Ellen (January 14, 2012). "Dennis Nahat out at Ballet San Jose". San Francisco Chronicle. p. F-1. Retrieved January 13, 2012. Originally published online January 13, 2012 under the title "Nahat, San Jose Ballet part ways". 
  3. ^ "Ballet San Jose Announces New Artistic and Training Partnership with American Ballet Theatre" (PDF) (Press release). Ballet San Jose. December 23, 2011. Retrieved January 5, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c Hamlin, Jesse (December 26, 2011). "Ballet San Jose, American Ballet Theatre in deal". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved January 5, 2012. 
  5. ^ Harmanci, Reyhan (January 5, 2012). "After Disastrous Year, Ballet Tries to Regain Balance". New York Times. Retrieved January 6, 2012. 
  6. ^ Winn, Steven (March 5, 2012). "Ballet San Jose review: Return reaps rich rewards". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved March 19, 2012. 
  7. ^ Scheinin, Richard (January 6, 2012). "John Fry to step down as Ballet San Jose board chair". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved January 6, 2012. 
  8. ^ a b McCollum, Charlie (August 23, 2012). "Ballet San Jose announces new season". San Jose Mercury. Retrieved September 5, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b "Ballet San Jose Announces 2012 Repertory Season..." (Press release). Ballet San Jose. August 24, 2012. Retrieved September 5, 2012. 
  10. ^ Ulrich, Allan (June 19, 2013). "Ballet San Jose's new artistic director". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved June 20, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b D'Souza, Karen (March 8, 2016). "Silicon Valley Ballet shutdown -- 'the writing was on the wall'". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved April 13, 2016. 
  12. ^ Blue Suede Shoes. Ballet San Jose. Archived from the original on February 10, 2006. 
  13. ^ "Goodwill Tour From Silicon Valley" (PDF) (Press release). Ballet San Jose. February 20, 2008. Retrieved January 5, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Ballet San Jose". Archived from the original on January 5, 2012. 2012 season coming soon .
  15. ^ Felciano, Rita (March 5, 2012). "Review: Ballet San Jose's opening program". Mercury News. San Jose. Retrieved March 19, 2012. 
  16. ^ "2012 Season at a Glance". Ballet San Jose. Retrieved March 18, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Ballet San Jose A ballet company losing direction". Ballet News. December 14, 2011. 
  18. ^ Hurst, Ann (April 1, 2012). "Opinion: Ousted Ballet San Jose founder Nahat takes the high road". Mercury News. San Jose. Retrieved April 16, 2012. 
  19. ^ "About Ballet San Jose School". Ballet San Jose School. Ballet San Jose. Retrieved January 12, 2015. 

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