Ballet San Jose, the Silicon Valley-based troupe led by former American Ballet Theatre star José Manuel Carreño, is facing shutdown if it fails to raise $550,000 by March 14. The company made the announcement earlier this week. BSJ launched a fundraising drive in January that's raised a little over half a million dollars, and now must match that figure in order to keep the company going. 

BSJ faces special challenges as a midsize company in Silicon Valley, including competing with San Francisco's well-known artistic institutions just about an hour away by car. When Carreño took the reigns in 2013, the company was in debt and had recently lost the support of a major donor. Still, Carreño relished the challenge of finding new ways to reach local audiences. His Bodies of Technology program, set for late March, includes a work by Jessica Lang that incorporates gesture-controlled music and an Amy Seiwert premiere in collaboration with a software artist.   

Silicon Valley is known as a hotbed of technology and innovation, but it has had trouble sustaining a strong arts and culture scene. Several other groups have folded in recent years, including San Jose Repertory Theatre and American Musical Theatre of San Jose. Arts leaders remain hopeful that BSJ will be able to pull through and take steps to change this.

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During one of Charlotte Nash's first few weeks with Houston Ballet II, she was thrown into a run-through of Balanchine's Theme and Variations. "I had never really understudied before and I didn't know what I was doing," she says. "I fell right away and was quickly replaced." For Nash, now a dancer with Festival Ballet Providence, the episode was a tough lesson. "I was mortified, but then I said to myself, 'Okay, I need to figure out how to learn things more quickly.'"

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Courtesy BLOCH

Today's ballet dancer needs a lot from a pointe shoe. "What I did 20 years ago is not what these dancers are doing now," says New York City Ballet shoe manager Linnette Roe. "They are expected to go harder, longer days. They are expected to go from sneakers, to pointe shoes, to character shoes, to barefoot and back to pointe shoes all in a day."

The team at BLOCH developed their line of Stretch Pointe shoes to address dancer's most common complaints about the fit and performance of their pointe shoes. "It's a scientific take on the pointe shoe," says Roe. Dancers are taking notice and Stretch Pointe shoes are now worn by stars like American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, who stars in BLOCH's latest campaign for the shoes.

We dug into the details of Stretch Pointe's most game-changing features:

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The Joffrey Ballet's Amanda Assucena and Greig Matthews in Cathy Marston's Jane Eyre. Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet.

Wonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've rounded up some highlights.

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Herman Cornejo in Don Quixote. Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT.

American Ballet Theatre's fall season at Lincoln Center's Koch Theater offers a chance to see the company in shorter works and mixed-repertoire programs. This year's October 16–27 run honors principal Herman Cornejo, who's celebrating his 20th anniversary with the company. Cornejo will be featured in a special celebratory program as well as a new work by Twyla Tharp (her 17th for the company), set to Johannes Brahms' String Quartet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 111. The October 26 program will include Cornejo in a pas de deux with his sister, former ABT dancer Erica Cornejo.

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