Cash-strapped Ballet San Jose is tightening its belt before leaping into the rest of its 2013-2014 season.

The South Bay's major resident dance company, which has long struggled with its finances, announced Thursday that it will cut its sparsely attended Saturday matinees as well as replace its substitute recorded music for a live orchestra at its Feb. 14-16 performances. Leaders of the troupe say these trims, which will save an estimated $125,000, will ensure that the company can balance its budget.

"It may feel like we are taking a few steps backward," says Stephanie Ziesel, executive director of the troupe. "But we aren't slashing the budget. We are responding to the marketplace to make sure that we have a sustainable business model. We are making trims so we can move ahead in a fiscally responsible manner."

With an eclectic mix of classical and modern works ranging from Roland Petit and George Balanchine to Twyla Tharp, the ballet's three new programs run Feb. 14 through May 11 at San Jose's Center for the Performing Arts. The 28-year-old troupe is also delaying the premiere of one piece, Jorge Amarante's "Grapa Tango," until 2015.

Ballet officials characterize these cutbacks as minimal. Saturday matinees have never been very popular and the company, which has 36 dancers, will still feature live music at most of its shows. Also the troupe has a history of using recordings to save money.

"We hate to forgo live music but the truth is there are a lot of pristine recordings out there," says Ziesel. "The sound will still be lovely."

"We are trying to make strategic cuts that the audience won't feel," agrees Millicent Powers, the head of Ballet San Jose's Board. "Our goal is to put the artists and the audience first."

The Ballet, which formed a partnership with New York's iconic American Ballet Theatre in 2012, has suffered a few financial setbacks in recent months. The holiday cash cow, "The Nutcracker," missed its ticket goal by an estimated $75,000. There has also been a pullback in the level of support from John Fry, historically the company's biggest angel. Fry has donated more than $20 million to the troupe in the last decade.

Citing confidentiality concerns, Powers declined to specify the exact level of decrease in donor support from Fry.

"There is nothing but gratitude here for what Fry has done for the ballet," says Powers. "That is the reason we are here today."

Ziesel is optimistic that the ballet can continue to regain its footing. Ticket sales are on track. Theatergoers with tickets for the scrubbed matinees will receive seats for another performance. The budget now stands at $5.4 million, down from a high of $8 million in 2009-2010. A recent fundraising gala netted $66,000 in donations.

Hopes are also high that incoming artistic director José Manuel Carreño, a hotshot in the dance world, can help the company rebound even higher going forward.

"It's still a gorgeous, beautiful season," saysZiesel. "The organization is so vibrant right now. You can feel the buzz in this building. We are all pulling in the same direction and everyone is excited about where we are headed."

Contact Karen D'Souza at 408-271-3772. Read her at www.mercurynews.com/karen-dsouza and follow her at www.twitter.com/KarenDSouza4.