In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, good news in the ballet world is more welcome now than ever. Last month, California–based dance school San Jose Ballet Theatre announced that it would be launching a professional ballet company, as well as a trainee program and a new pre-professional training division. This is good news for San Jose, which saw Silicon Valley Ballet shut down in 2016. Earlier this week, the company shared its vision for its first season. Directed by Linda Hurkmans, the company will be comprised of six members and six trainees.
Hurkmans, who danced professionally with The Royal Danish Ballet, Ballet West, Norwegian National Ballet and others, took over SJDT in 2014. The school has been a local staple since its inception in 1965 and has a long tradition of putting on full-length productions, including an annual Nutcracker. The company's 2020/21 season, titled In Motion, will feature Nutcracker, a new full length version of Sleeping Beauty directed by Hurkmans, and Innovations, a contemporary production including new works by Michael Pappalardo and local emerging choreographers.
SJDT will maintain a strong focus on community development, and the dancers will also be responsible for teaching in the school. The school's new pre-professional program is designed to support the fledgling company, with the trainees acting as a bridge between the two. Both the one-year tuition-based pre-professional division and the one-to-two-year trainee scholarship program are open to high school graduates, and offer intensive training in technique, repertoire, pointe, pas de deux and more.
Though a shaky time for the industry, SJDT believes that this is the perfect opportunity to launch its new ventures, and stands prepared to use its resources to support dancers and choreographers. "We have worked very hard to get to this point," said Hurkmans in a statement. "We can see much potential for a leading company in San Jose, and I can't wait to work with all the dancers and creators that we have planned in the coming years."
An audition for the professional company, trainee program and pre-professional program is scheduled for July 19. There will be an online option available for dancers unable to attend in person due to shelter-in-place restrictions. Interested dancers can register here.