08. March 2016 · Comments Off on Another One Gone … · Categories: Another One Bites the Dust, Ballet

So sad. Not surprising, but still sad. It appears our very wealthy area isn’t willing to support things like the arts. I’m not sure if that will ever change, and it’s so frustrating.

The deeply troubled Silicon Valley Ballet has finally danced its swan song.

The leaders of South Bay’s major resident dance company, which has long danced on the brink of financial ruin, confirmed today that the troupe is closing its doors. Despite a successful do-or-die fundraising campaign last year, the ballet was unable to stay afloat. The shutdown impacts an estimated 32 staff members and 32 dancers, although the ballet school will likely continue to operate under new management.

“It’s very, very sad. This is very hard for me,” said a tearful Millicent Powers, co-chair of the Ballet San Jose board. “All I wanted was for this company to stay alive but in reality it’s a miracle that we lasted this long. We need to do the right thing for our artists, which is to let them go and audition for other things.”

San Jose Ballet Artistic Director José Manuel Carreño brought star power and strong leadership to Silicon Valley Ballet, but the company could not overcome
San Jose Ballet Artistic Director José Manuel Carreño brought star power and strong leadership to Silicon Valley Ballet, but the company could not overcome its financial problems and has announced it is closing. (LiPo Ching/staff archives) ( LiPo Ching )
The cash-strapped ballet, which was founded in 1986 as the “San Jose Cleveland Ballet” and teamed up with New York’s famed American Ballet Theatre in 2012, has faced many huge financial obstacles in recent years. Some programs flopped at the box office. The loss of a key donor, John Fry, CEO of Fry’s Electronics, who has donated more than $20 million to the troupe in the last decade, was a major blow. Other obstacles, including a big tax bill and thorny personnel issues, piled up and the ballet could not dig itself out from under.

“You fight one battle after another but can you win the war? How long can we keep doing this?” said Powers. “There’s so much heart here, if it were possible to make this happen, we would do it. But we just ran out of runway.”

I read it here.

More news sources, some with a bit more or different information:
Dance Magazine

11. March 2015 · Comments Off on More On Saving The Ballet · Categories: Ballet

Some tech folks are looking to help! This is rather exciting, really.

In addition, I just read this on Twitter:

San Jose just gave an unrestricted grant of $105,000 to @balletsj ! The emergency funding campaign has $487,000 of $550,000 needed 2 #SV4BSJ

(For those who don’t read hashtags, #SV4BSJ means “Silicon Valley for Ballet San Jose”. I think.)

Have you made your donation yet? If not, start by going here.

11. March 2015 · Comments Off on Ballet San Jose Could Use Your Help · Categories: Ballet

… and here are a few events you might consider attending.

Wednesday March 11, City Hall – Arts Commission Meeting 5:30pm
Support Ballet San Jose at City Hall, where the Arts Commission will be meeting to decide if and how much emergency funding to make available to Ballet San Jose. Please come and have your voice be heard; let the city and Arts Commission know how much Ballet San Jose means to you!

Thursday March 12, Brown Bag Open Rehearsal 12:00-1:30pm
Ballet San Jose Studios: 40 N First St, San Jose 95113
Please invite your family and friends to an open rehearsal in our studios on their lunch break! Get to know Ballet San Jose and support our Bridge to the Future Campaign.

Friday March 13, Beer and Ballet 4:00-5:30pm
Ballet San Jose Studios: 40 N First St, San Jose 95113
Please invite your family and friends to join us for beer and ballet, an open rehearsal event to let the public know about our institution in support of our Bridge to the Future Campaign.

Of course you could also consider donating. That would be wonderful. Start by going here.

We don’t want to lose another arts group in our extremely wealthy Silicon Valley. It’s a disgrace that we’ve lost a number already, and even more disgraceful that others are struggling.

09. March 2015 · Comments Off on Stunning & Moving Work · Categories: Ballet

I don’t fully “get” ballet, but this is an amazing piece. It’s feels very personal, and really helps me see the tremendous work and skill in ballet. Breathlessness, too. Especially in the first and second parts. The third section where she is motionless … it certainly will cause me to see things differently when I next attend a ballet.

“Veronique Doisneau”

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

And, finally, the very brief Part 4

Does it make you think of dance differently? It does for me.

The final performance of the season closer will be followed by a program that will pay tribute to Gabay and showcase some of her work. Gabay danced for 34 seasons with the company. “A Tribute to Ballet San Jose’s Karen Gabay” takes place April 21, 7 p.m. at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts.


I’ve always enjoyed Karen Gabay, and I am convinced that woman barely ages. I knew she’d retire eventually, but I’m sorry it’s now, and I’m sorry I’m not playing the set so I miss saying goodbye.

Wishing you all the best, Karen! You have always touched my heart!

This video is from 3 years ago or so:

01. November 2012 · Comments Off on Saturday! · Categories: Ballet, Concert Announcements

There’s nothing quite like a glimpse into the abyss to reorder one’s priorities. After this past winter’s turmoil seemed to threaten Ballet San Jose’s status as one of California’s premiere dance companies, the organization has recommitted to fundamentals.
In its latest dramatic gesture, the ballet hired Emmy award-winning music director and conductor George Daugherty, while announcing that every performance this season will feature live music by Symphony Silicon Valley.


So glad to see that we are back in the pit for Ballet San Jose, and so glad Ballet San Jose is still dancing! 🙂

05. August 2011 · Comments Off on Ballet San Jose, Where Art Thou? · Categories: Ballet

The ballet’s website tells me the “2011-2012 Season Will Be Announced Soon” … but then I read this:

For the first time in decades, Ballet San Jose, a company known as much for its perseverance as for its innovative performances, is unlikely to stage a ballet this fall, and will probably begin its season with December’s traditional performances of “The Nutcracker.”
Typically by this time of year, the ballet company has announced its slate of performances for the coming season, which in years past has stretched from fall to spring.
But an announcement of the 2011-12 season has been delayed because of uncertainty about the company’s budget, Ballet San Jose Executive Director Stephanie Ziesel said this week. Like many arts organizations, Ballet San Jose has faced its share of budget problems over the years; it reported a deficit of nearly $1 million on its tax return for the fiscal year ending June 2010.
And in addition to questions about how much revenue the ballet will generate in the coming season, the company’s management still has not reached a contract agreement with the ballet dancers union. Against that backdrop, it’s unlikely that the curtain will rise on a Ballet San Jose performance this autumn.
“We would be putting ourselves in the position of rushing to the market,” Ziesel said, noting that the company did just that last year, announcing the season in August 2010 and staging “Giselle” in October. “We didn’t have ample runway to sell subscriptions and meet our subscription goal or our single-ticket sales goal for that first program.”
Following “The Nutcracker” in December, the company’s repertory season will likely run from February to April, she said, adding that she is hopeful the company will stage three ballets, as it did last season.


04. April 2011 · Comments Off on A Different Carmen · Categories: Ballet

While I was unable to watch any of Ballet San Jose’s Carmen, I can easily see this one! Bizet is still there, but this arrangement is by Rodion Shchedrin. The choreography is by Mat Ek. (I do wish the camera just focused on the entire stage and let us decide where to look; this is an issue I have with staged opera that’s filmed, too. Oh well! I’m obviously not in charge!)

Wow … put the video up before I’d watched the whole thing. I found it pretty amazing. Not everyone’s cuppa, I’m sure, but I thought it was incredibly powerful.

(If you click on the video it will open in a larger format in another window.)

04. April 2011 · Comments Off on Ballet From My Point Of View · Categories: Ballet, Mr. Nut · Tags:

I’m done with ballet for this year. I really enjoyed this run, and it was quite unstressful — I had tiny solos, but they were the sort no one even notices, I’m sure, and certainly nothing that makes me nervous. We had a guest conductor who I found enjoyable to work with. He had us seated differently and I think it was an improvement from our normal seating, even while it meant I no longer get to see a thing; I was sitting underneath the lip of the stage. Ah well … the “best seat in the pit” was fun while it lasted! This new seat does allow me to hear the strings a lot better, and I like that.

Below are a few photos of my view from the pit.

Our conductor, Andrew Mogrelia (sorry for the dim photo):

Mr. Nut visited us at the final performance:

The brass section:

Some of the strings:

I always enjoy the differences between opera, symphony and ballet audiences. It would be very rare to see people dressed this way for a symphony concert!

Next up is La bohème, but this week I have no work at all … well … aside from seventeen students!

30. March 2011 · Comments Off on Ballet’s Begun · Categories: Ballet

… but don’t worry, I’m not dancing! Now that would be even worse than my singing!

We had our first rehearsal for the ballet set tonight, in the less than wonderful rehearsal hall. The lighting in there is horrible, not terribly bright fluorescent lighting. Fluorescent light can trigger migraines, so I now know to think ahead and bring a stand light. I’ll also take some meds tonight that might help me if I am in borderline migraine country.

Below are a few photos I took. The ballet company was rehearsing with taped music while we were downstairs rehearsing our parts. I did a couple blurry, flashless photos and I hope I wasn’t breaking any rules, but I love to post a “view from the pit”. You also see the crummy rehearsal hall and a poster outside the hall.