Silicon Valley Ballet loses battle to stay afloat

Silicon Valley Ballet closes doorsThe San Jose Mercury News made a sad and disheartening announcement on Tuesday. California’s Silicon Valley Ballet, formerly known as Ballet San Jose, will be closing its doors for good. The 32-dancer company, which has “teetered on the brink of ruin” for some time, has finally “danced its swan song.”

 

The company would have celebrated its 30th anniversary this year. Instead, its many financial woes have proven too much to overcome. Even the company’s star Artistic Director José Manuel Carreño couldn’t keep the organization afloat. (Carreño is a retired Cuban ballet dancer who performed as a principal with the English National Ballet, the Royal Ballet and American Ballet Theatre.)

 

Attempting to explain the company’s downfall, San Jose Mercury News writer Karen D’Souza wrote, “Some programs flopped at the box office. The company lost a key donor, John Fry, CEO of Fry’s Electronics, who had donated more than $20 million to the troupe over the course of a decade. There was a sizable tax bill and the company weathered thorny personnel issues including the controversial ouster of director Dennis Nahat in 2012.”

 

The company had an urgent “do-or-die” fundraiser last year that raised $640,000 in 10 days. But it seems not even this was enough to sustain operations. The irony that this company is situated in one of the country’s most wealthy communities is not lost.

 

“Some say that the ballet is merely another example of the brutal financial arts climate in the Silicon Valley, that despite the billions that its very name represents, arts groups here are under extreme pressure to make ends meet because they lack the kind of old-money perennial arts patrons you find in San Francisco,” writes D’Souza.

 

The good news? The ballet school might continue under new management. So while 32 dancers are now out of the job as well as over a dozen administrative personnel, the students at the school might still have a chance to keep their learning environment intact.

 

For more information on the company, visit http://siliconvalleyballet.org. For further details on the company’s recent fold, read the San Jose Mercury News article here.

 

Photo: Silicon Valley Ballet in Karen Gabay’s The Nutcracker. Photo by Quinn Wharton.