San José Dance Theatre – Silicon Valley’s Outreach for Assistance

San José Dance Theatre was founded in 1964 as Paul E. Curtis Jr.’s Los Gatos Academy of Dance and the West Valley Ballet Foundation. The name was later changed to San José Dance Theatre in 1965 and incorporated as a nonprofit educational organization. For more than 58 years, SJDT has specialized in classical ballet training for children from four years of age to the advanced pre-professional level. Many SJDT alumni have gone on to prominent University and Conservatory programs and successful careers in dance.

SJDT has delighted local audiences for five decades with performances including Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Sleeping Beauty. In December 2023, SJDT will celebrate its 58th annual production of The Original San Jose Nutcracker at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts.

America’s Ballet Theatre Problem:

Declining Audience Attendance: A 14 % decline in seats sold, a 17 % reduction in paid capacity, and an 8 % drop in revenue per performance.

Regional Theatres Closing: Last year, 20% of regional theaters had closed. This represents a loss of over 100 theaters.

Competition: Ballet theaters face competition from other forms of entertainment, such as digital media, which divert attention and funding away from live performances.

* Data cited from internet sources and may not be 100% updated

San José Dance Theatre’s Mission:

San José Dance Theatre (SJDT) promotes the positive impact of dance in Silicon Valley through accessible performances, excellent training, creative outreach, and collaboration across the arts. We strive to illuminate the human experience while enriching an appreciation of movement and music to an expanding and diverse audience. We value and maintain excellence in classical ballet and contemporary dance training in our school, pre-professional programs, and professional ballet company, providing innovative opportunities for dancers of all levels. We seek to engage our community through collaboration with artists, arts organizations, government and private sectors.

About the Guest:

Elizabeth Sweeney began her dance training under the Royal Academy of Dance. She then began training under Paul Curtis and Shawn Stuart at the San José Dance Theatre. With their guidance, she performed in The Nutcracker from eight to seventeen. While dancing at the San José Dance Theatre under Robert Kelley’s direction, she was allowed to participate in Regional Dance America. She then danced at the former San Jose Cleveland Ballet School under the direction of Denis Nahat before continuing to University. Elizabeth Graduated from California State University Long Beach with a BA in Dance. Elizabeth is TESOL certified and taught English in Beijing, China, before returning home to become an insurance professional. Elizabeth has taught dance and has been a rehearsal assistant for SJDT since she joined the board of directors.

In this Episode:

In the upcoming episode, listeners can anticipate a captivating journey through the history and future aspirations of San José Dance Theatre, a renowned ballet institution. Through engaging anecdotes, Executive Director Elizabeth provides a delightful peek into the organization’s roots, tracing its evolution from a humble dance academy to a revered nonprofit. Discover the heartwarming story of how the iconic Nutcracker became a cherished tradition in America while gaining insights into the organization’s commitment to making ballet accessible to all, fostering young talents, and forging collaborations with the broader arts community. Join the conversation to explore San José Dance Theatre‘s vision for the next three to five years, promising an inspiring episode filled with passion, purpose, and a love for the arts.


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