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Our Story

The Civic Ballet of San Luis Obispo became a reality on December 8th, 1978. On that exciting opening night, at the Cal Poly Little Theatre(Now the Spanos Theatre), the Company premiered The Nutcracker with just 15 company dancers.

Until that evening, the prospect of taking the talented classical dancers in SLO County and producing quality classical performances was only a dream in the mind of the company’s founder and then artistic director, Lorilee Silvaggio.

Since that debut, The Civic Ballet has continued to grow and enjoyed 45 seasons of performances offering The Nutcracker every holiday season as well as a Spring Gala such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Ballet de La Fiesta, The Red Shoes, Max and the Wild Things, Wild Heart, Earth Mother Earth, Yellow Submarine, Since I Saw Her Standing There and more.



Lorilee and Drew Silvaggio


In 2003, Drew Silvaggio took over as Artistic Director of the Civic Ballet. He has continued the classical roots of the company and has produced original, innovative contemporary works such as Sidewalk Stories, Midsummers Night Dream, Alice In Wonderland, The CrucibleJulia Caesar, The Scarlet Ibis, and Our Town.

In 2012, Drew’s dream of The Nutcracker being performed with a live orchestra came true when the Civic Ballet began dancing with the accompaniment of Opera SLO.  This provided the Central Coast an immersive experience and a new level of production quality. The original company that consisted of 15 dancers is now 30 dancers ranging in age from 14 – 65 years.

The Civic Ballet truly is a labor of love for the dancers, instructors, choreographers, volunteer seamstresses, set builders, prop makers, and Board of Directors that oversees production finances, business operations, and fundraising.


Core Values

The Gift of Dance

Providing professional classical and contemporary ballet performances to San Luis Obispo and the Central Coast community.

Education and Training

Providing the highest quality dance education to all level of company dancers.

Performance Opportunities

Providing the dancers with as many opportunities as possible to perform in a variety of venues, both big and small.

Inclusivity and Acceptance

Providing dance education for all dancers based on commitment, regardless of age or appearance. There is room for everyone’s skills and talents.


Committing time to dance, dance education, and performance.


Respecting each dancer’s individual talents and creating an environment that provides each dancer with a sense of community.

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Bella Robertson, The Scarlet Ibis 2023
Sawyer Strand, The Nutcracker 2022
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