Breaking News: Silicon Valley Ballet Shuts Down

After years of financial struggles, a new director in 2013 and a name change in 2015, Silicon Valley Ballet has shut its doors. According to an article in today’s SF Gate, the company and staff learned that they had been let go, indefinitely, following the February program’s close on February 21.

The company in Alonso's Giselle (2015). Photo by Bari Lee via SVB.

The news may come as a surprise to some. Recently, the company completed an eight-city tour of Spain, and artistic director José Manuel Carreño’s innovative programming, including a restaging of Giselle by prima ballerina Alicia Alonso last fall, seemed to generate buzz. Even before former American Ballet Theatre star Carreño took the reins, SVB’s school partnered with ABT to bring in its National Training Curriculum.

Yet the company’s success depended on an ever-precarious financial situation. Many, including retired SVB principal dancer Karen Gabay, glimpsed the inevitability of the company’s collapse in the 2012 ousting of previous director Dennis Nahat—which instigated much drama and tension. In an interview with the San Jose Mercury News, she said, “Getting rid of Dennis Nahat the way they did alienated a lot of long term supporters. He was the founder of the company. I don't think you can eradicate the past like that without losing your supporters."

It’s a shame that a region with such an influx of wealth in the past decade has had such a devastating loss in the arts. The school will likely continue under new management, but the company will have to refund tickets for certain upcoming programs. A sad day, indeed: we can only speculate where 31 suddenly jobless dancers will find a home.

Carreño teaches company class. Photo by LiPo Ching via SVB.

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