The Cleveland Ballet was founded in 1972 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 few years later the Ohio Chamber Orchestra began providing live music and in 1981 the company presented its first full-length ballet, The Nutcracker. 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 State Theater in Playhouse Square.
From 1986 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 Cleveland base of operations closed, and the ballet began operating based exclusively in San Jose until its closure in 2016. In 2014 a group of dedicated artists and businessman reconnected to build a new professional ballet company- new Cleveland Ballet. Under the artistic leadership and vision of Gladisa Guadalupe and business acumen of Dr. Michael Krasnyansky, Cleveland has the opportunity to welcome a professional and resident ballet company back to the stage. Cleveland Ballet marked its return to the Cleveland arts scene with the artistically and financially successful October 2015 production, Past,Present, Future. The world premiere production of Coppelia,choreographed by the acclaimed artist Ramon Oller from Spain, concluded the inaugural season.
- "Dennis Nahat and Ian Horvath, Choreographers, 1943–1990. 1981 Cleveland Arts Prize for Dance". Cleveland Arts Prize. Retrieved 2015-09-20.
- 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.