Edward Villella, the founder and director of Miami City Ballet, will be leaving the company he has built into one of South Florida’s leading artistic institutions and one of the nation’s top dance companies.
Ron Esserman, Interim President of Miami City Ballet’s Board of Trustees announced that Edward Villella, the company’s founding and current Artistic Director, will be departing at the end of the 2012-2013 season, twenty-nine years after his first discussions about creating a classical ballet company in Miami. Villella is leaving to continue his professional life.
As we all know, Edward has had an extraordinary success. From its modest beginnings – nineteen dancers in a storefront on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach and a budget of one million dollars – MCB has grown into a first-rank artistic institution, recognized nationally and internationally as a leading force in American ballet.
The announcement came as a surprise, although, given Villella’s age — he turns 75 on October 1 — it was not entirely unexpected. Villella gave the company’s dancers and staff the news at a tearful meeting yesterday morning.
My ambition from the start was to give Miami and South Florida a major dance company; my strategy was to proceed carefully and steadily, evolving rather than over-extending. Today it’s no longer a fledgling operation with a limited repertory (almost entirely Balanchine) and an even more limited budget.
Instead, it’s a 45-plus group of brilliant dancers and has a range of ballets that stretches from the classics – Giselle, Coppélia, Don Quixote, Romeo and Juliet – to the choicest works by Balanchine’s greatest successors (Jerome Robbins, Paul Taylor, Twyla Tharp). And recently we’ve been fortunate enough to be in a position to commission new works – the heart of every ballet company – from masters like Tharp and Alexei Ratmansky to Liam Scarlett, the youngest choreographer ever to be invited to create a new work for the main stage of Britain’s Royal Ballet.”
The Miami Herald reported that MCB Board Chairwoman Ana-Marie Codina Barlick said that, although there were no concerns about Villella’s health or leadership now, a small group of board members had been discussing his succession for some time.
Photo: Edward Villella and MCB Dancers in The Neighborhood Ballroom © Joe Gato
There was a mutual agreement that this was the right timeline. The board is looking to the future. We’re very focused on preserving one of the cultural icons of the community. We believe in the mission and what has been accomplished. We’re very focused on making the transition smooth, and being able to maintain what he has created. We’re definitely not looking for a different type of company.”
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.