ART IN MOTION
Ryan Walker and Mesa Burdick are among the students at the New Ballet School, which was recently founded by Dalia Rawson (right).
Dalia Rawson’s students leap into strong, elegant jetés. They pirouette across the stage, each movement athletic, poised and confident. Their talent is obvious; their passion, tangible; and, thanks to Rawson, their ballet continues to be possible.
Rawson is executive director of the New Ballet School, a streamlined, progressive organization that is filling the void of professional ballet training created by the abrupt closure of Silicon Valley Ballet in March. Its demise was unexpected and dramatic; future shows were canceled, over 30 professional dancers let go and hundreds of dedicated students were left without a school. Although devastated by the dissolution of the troupe where she had danced for 15 years and worked for 10, Rawson saw a glimmer of hope where others saw failure. She knew that any interruption in training could be destructive to a dancer’s future, but the total loss of the school would be catastrophic. While many were still reeling from the news, she sprung into action and led paperwork to create a new ballet school. Her mission was simple: Keep her students dancing and preserve ballet in San Jose. (to that end, The New Ballet School is honoring payments that were previously made to SVB.)
Rawson successfully learned how to navigate the bureaucracy of establishing a nonprofit, fundraise, rehire staff and instructors, and convince students that the future looked brighter than ever. Her hard work and optimism paid off, and the school is settling into its new identity. It hosts classes, rehearsals and showcases in a charming 1920s-era building. Tall windows let in streams of natural light, and students dance to live classical music, courtesy of a pianist. While the building is historic, the school is decidedly new—and not just in its formation. It subscribes to a revolutionary philosophy that focuses on the “whole dancer.” This means that students are taught techniques in accordance with the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum, with special emphasis on child development and healthy body image.
Rawson knows from her personal experience as a dancer that “ballet offers a sense of purpose and a clarity of thought and action,” she says. This, she believes, promises success in all facets of life. “I’m excited to see what the future holds,” she continues. “We have an incredible team. … From the teachers, staff and pianists who volunteered their time to make sure the students had a seamless training experience at the start of our venture, to the moms and friends who are currently sewing tutus that will be used in our new production of the San Jose Nutcracker, we are all working together to provide for the future of classical ballet in San Jose.”
40 N. First St., San Jose, 408.352.5616
Originally published in the July issue of Silicon Valley