The search for a ballet company for Silicon Valley seemed audacious when undertaken in 1983 by a committee of 18 community leaders and citizens, none of them dancers themselves. The group, organized as City Center Ballet, began a two-year national search for a ballet company they could present as their own. They found Cleveland Ballet, then ten years old and known internationally for its combination of strong classical training and theatricality.
Artistic Director Dennis Nahat liked the idea of two cities sharing artistic elements like sets and costumes, and having a second home city for his performers. The two companies established San Jose Cleveland ballet as a coventure in 1986.
Mr. Nahat, one of the few contemporary ballet directors who choreographs a significant body of work for his own company, continues to guide the company and the two ballet schools from his Cleveland office. A former American Ballet Theatre dancer himself, Nahat has built a "dancer's company" that attracts first rate performers from around the world. Two of ballet's greatest artists, Cynthia Gregory and the late Rudolf Nureyev, are among those who have performed for Nahat in San Jose and Cleveland.
San Jose Cleveland Ballet's mission is to bring to San Jose, and the entire Silicon Valley area, celebrated dance - dance that ais theatrically produced in a manner that fully honors the vision of the artists, that contributes to the fulfillment of the cultural needs of the community, and that is made accessible to as wide an audience as possible.
San Jose Cleveland Ballet is one of the nation's largest classical ballet companies with a budget of $3 million. The Ballet currently has more than 3,000 subscribers and 4,500 contributors. Led by renowned Artistic Director Dennis Nahat, the Company has 50 dancers from such diverse backgrounds as Vietnam, Cuba, France, as well as local California dancers. When the Company takes the stage, the diversity of Silicon Valley is mirrored in the faces of our dancers.
Student Matinee performances, free-of-charge to students, are fully-staged, professional productions, complete with sets, costumes, and symphonic accompaniment - a real treat for the more than 2,500 students attending each show, most of whom have never experienced a live threater performance.
Project Dance is a new, in-depth, semester-long dance program for older students, who will work with a ballet school faculty member twice a week to choreograph and produce their own dance piece. The choreography will be based around an important issue or subject students are currently exploring at school. For example, a rain forest dance that complements studies in literature, social studies and geography. Project Dance was launched in the winter of 1996 at a Silicon Valley school free of charge.
Dance Dialogs are a series of free lectures offered at community centers throughout the county, prior to each San Jose Cleveland production. Dance Dialogs, the first outreach program for the general public, is designed for the new ballet goer and the seasoned veteran, including historical perspectives of the ballets performed, tips on what to watch for, and backstage trivia.
Opening September 9, 1996, the new School of San Jose Cleveland Ballet offers classical ballet training at both the professional and community levels, with classes for children and adults. The school is located in the same building as the Ballet's administrative offices at 40 North First Street, in downtown San Jose.
Artistic Director of the School, Dennis Nahat brings the same artistic excellence to the School that he insists on for the Company. For the first semester, Company Artistic Associate Roni Mahler was the guest teacher. Ms. Mahler is a former soloist for American Ballet Theatre. The permanent Principal Teacher is Ms. Diane Van Schoor, director and founder of the Van Schoor School in Capetown, South Africa. Accompany Van Schoor is her husband Roland Thompson, an internationally renowned pianist, who will head the School's music department.