The Cleveland Ballet was first founded in Cleveland in 1935 by Russian émigré Sergei Popeloff, a dancer associated with Anna Pavlova, and lasted until 1942. In 1972, the ballet was re-founded by Dennis Nahat and Ian Horvath as a dance school, the School of Cleveland Ballet. They subsequently recruited professional dancers who by 1975 were previewing performances around Cleveland. The company first performed at the Hanna Theatre November 16, 1976. A year later the Ohio Chamber Orchestra began providing live music and in 1978 the company presented its first original full-length ballet, “The Gift” in 1976 The Nutcracker in 1979, Coppelia, Romeo and Juliet and Swan Lake were next added to the repertory. In 1984 Horvath resigned, leaving Nahat solely responsible for the company and school. That year the ballet moved to the newly renovated State Theater in Playhouse Square where Nahat created another full evening ballet Celebrations and Ode music from Ludwig van Beethoven full 7th and 9th symphonies.
From 1985 to 2000 it continued as the Cleveland San Jose Ballet, performing in both cities. By 1990 it was the fourth-largest ballet company in the United States, and the largest one that was a co-venture between two cities. In 2000, the founding Cleveland base of operations then led by Board President, Robert G. Jones of Key Bank, closed the company and the ballet began operating based exclusively in San Jose. In 2004 John Fry of Fry's Electronic's joined the board with a contribution on 1 million dollars and the company was subsequently taken over by new board chair, John Fry. In a letter instructed by Fry, Nahat was ousted in January 2011 by newly Fry appointed Executive Director, Stephanie Ziesel. After a year, the name was changed to Silicon Valley Ballet until its final closure in 2016.
In 2014, the Cleveland Ballet was re-founded for the third official time by Michael Krasnyansky and his wife, Gladisa Guadalupe. Guadalupe, a Puerto Rico native, and principal dancer and teacher with the previous Cleveland Ballet, and Krasnyansky, a Russian-American businessman who immigrated from the Soviet Union, founded the new Cleveland Ballet with their own capital and other donations. Its initial production in 2015, titled Past. Present. Future was presented to a nearly sold-out audience. The new Cleveland Ballet became a resident company of Playhouse Square in 2017. A lean company of 20 professional dancers and apprentices, it is entering its fifth season at Playhouse Square.
- "Cleveland Ballet". Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, Case Western Reserve University. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
- "Dennis Nahat and Ian Horvath, Choreographers, 1943–1990. 1981 Cleveland Arts Prize for Dance". Cleveland Arts Prize. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
- Kassing, Gayle (2007). History of Dance: An Interactive Arts Approach. Human Kinetics. p. 266. ISBN 9780736060356.
- "Cynthia Gregory to dance in MOT's Swan Lake". Michigan Journal. University of Michigan-Dearborn. March 5, 1990. p. 5. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
- D'Souza, Karen (March 8, 2016). "Silicon Valley Ballet shutdown -- 'the writing was on the wall'". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved April 13, 2016.
- "About". Cleveland Ballet Company, School and Orchestra. Retrieved May 29, 2019.