SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - It could be the last dance for Ballet San Jose. California's second largest dance company announced if it doesn't raise emergency funds in the next 10 days, it will be forced to close down.
Board members apparently had a choice to make at their Friday meeting - close the ballet down or fight to stay open. They've decided to fight, but there isn't much time.
"It's a pretty stressful issue. Everything that we do may be affected if the money's not raised," says Joshua Seibel, a soloist with Ballet San Jose.
They say past mismanagement has left the ballet with significant debt.
The new CEO says there is a plan to turn things around. But they need to raise $550,000 in the next 10 days if they want a shot at keeping the doors open.
"This is a must do. We're in a situation where we're raising funds for operating on a weekly basis," says CEO Alan Hineline.
He adds, "If we can reach this goal, it will give us enough runway so that we are able to start fundraising for the future and get out of this cycle that's eating us alive right now."
"It's a hard decision for us to make. But the operations of the ballet, we'll have no other choice really. We can't spend money we don't have," says chair of the board, Millicent Powers.
The money would get them through their next performance, Bodies of Technology, at the end of the month.
Meanwhile, the company's artistic director is trying to stay optimistic. "I have faith. And I communicate that to them, that we shouldn't lose faith," says Artistic Director, Jose Carreno.
To raise funds, Ballet San Jose is planning a social media campaign, along with three in studio events with the dancers next week.
People are already responding. Season ticket holder Michael Bena showed up Wednesday with donation in hand.
"If we don't do that then we'll lose something that's value… can't even measure with money," says Bena.
The dancers are hopeful more people will step up to save something so beloved.
"I think Ballet San Jose means everything to me, to be honest. I also think it means a lot to the community and I don't want them to lose that," says trainee Casey Pereira.
There are more than 32 dancers in the company and 350 at the school.
One of them, William Rumelhalt, says he couldn't imagine his life without Ballet San Jose. He says, to him, it is more than a ballet company. "Basically it means life... like ballet is life. And this place just makes it so much fun," he says.
The ballet, Bodies of Technology, is set for March 27-29th at the California Theatre.
The ballet company only has until March 14th to raise the money they need.