Engaging our Community
"The arts deepen people’s sense of engagement with their community, an attitude with repercussions far beyond the cultural sphere, having an impact on everything from real estate development to the very tenor of a city’s social fabric."
— Brett Sokol, The Knight Foundation
Silicon Valley Ballet's Education and Outreach Department provides opportunities for local students to have meaningful encounters with movement and music through nine free programs including: on-campus classes and lecture demonstrations, invited professional performances at the San Jose Center For Performing Arts, and continued intensive study at our downtown ballet studios. Through these programs we help close the cultural access gap we see in Silicon Valley.
For many local students in kindergarten through 12th grade, our programs provide a critically important first-time introduction to arts training. We follow up with opportunities for students to participate in long-term study, which leads to proven gains in self-confidence, expressiveness, focus, and physical self-esteem.
Public School Engagement
In eight participating San Jose public schools, every student in each grade is provided an introduction to the arts and to arts training. Additionally, hundreds of students are provided with in-depth training through various continuing-study programs. Early exposure to the arts is known to lead to the kind of future involvement in artistic training scientifically shown to benefit young people across a broad range of vital intellectual and behavioral skills. We provide the opportunity for continued involvement in three continuing-study programs, so that a more diverse local population will have access to the benefits of artistic study.
Participating San Jose Unified School District Partner schools are selected based on school profiles and demographic data, with 76% of students in participating schools eligible for free lunch, and 94% of students in participating schools belonging to under-represented populations.
Music and Motion
Serving grades 1-3, Music and Motion classes provide free on-campus music and dance instruction at five local grammar schools. A ballet school faculty member and pianist provide an introduction to music and dance through a mixture of singing, counting, listening, and movement exercises, exploring the basics of melody, rhythm, and style, as they relate to movement. Five motivated students from every class are invited to participate in the First Step Program for continuing study.
First Step is a free 18-week introductory ballet class, that provides students with an initial semester of training at Silicon Valley Ballet’s San Jose studios on full scholarship, including uniforms and dance shoes. Participants in the First Step class who demonstrate high aptitude for ballet receive a continuing full scholarship for additional training in Silicon Valley Ballet School’s Pre Professional Division.
Lecture Demonstration Series
Serving grades 4-8, the Lecture Demonstration Program provides a live narrated dance demonstration, a performance, and a lively lecture by a professional dancer, accompanied by a ballet pianist and two Silicon Valley Ballet Trainees (young dancers at the cusp of their professional careers). Students are given an opportunity to learn about what it means for a young person to train towards a career in professional ballet, and to meet and interact with the Trainees who are completing the final stages of their training and experiencing dancing with a professional company for the first time.
Ten-Week Dance and Music Class
This on-campus after-school class enables students to explore music and dance in their classroom for an extended period of time. The series of classes culminate in a live performance for family and friends, showcasing new skills and confidence. For many children, this program provides the first arts training experience, as well as the first performance opportunity of their lives. During the course, Silicon Valley Ballet’s instructors introduce fundamental music and dance skills. The students practice both singing and dance, and rehearse for a performance, practicing in front of an audience of stuffed animals. The culminating performance is a highlight for all who attend - and especially for those budding artists who create lifetime memories for themselves and their families.
This new program provides high school age students with a Contemporary/Hip-Hop dance class during P.E., accompanied by two live faculty musicians who augment the sound of instructor-selected recordings. Classes provide a good work-out and an opportunity for students to express themselves through dance with live musical accompaniment.
All of the students in each of our participating San Jose Schools, and their families, are eligible to attend Silicon Valley Ballet's repertory season at no cost. For many families, this is a first live theater experience. We strive to invite every student attendee of these engagement and outreach programs to a performance with their families. Support from the Sharks Foundation, from Kaiser Permanente, and from Comerica Bank ensures that these opportunities continue to be available to the children of our community and their families. Last year over four thousand students and family members attended performances of The Nutcracker and Cinderella, filling houses and delighting dancers and fellow theatre-goers alike with their joyful responses.
Sensory Friendly Dress Rehearsals
Silicon Valley Ballet works with SF Autism and other bay area groups to provide families affected by autism and other cognitive and sensory challenges the opportunity to attend a ballet performance in the theater. In an understanding atmosphere where they are free to enjoy the performance comfortably, families with affected children are able to experience the magic of live dance together, some for the first time.
Expanding in 2015-2016 through a partnership with the College of Adaptive Arts, programs for families with special needs will include onsite classes at Silicon Valley Ballet’s San Jose studio, culminating with an “Adaptive Nutcracker” workshop performance in fall 2016.
Summer Dance Jams
Now under development, this program will provide Dance Jams classes during summer months at Mexican Heritage Plaza, providing at-risk youth with a safe, healthy, and creative activity in the early evenings, supervised by top-level professional dance instructors and musicians affiliated with Silicon Valley Ballet.
Silicon Valley Ballet invites you to help us continue to provide the experiences that will help kids succeed in life, at work, and as a contributors to the future of our community. Your generous investment will allow us to help local kids and their families experience world-class dance and music, changing lives for good. To learn more about SVB’s Education and Outreach programs or to inquire about participation for your group or school please contact: Cliff Rawson, Education and Outreach Department Manager