While he is hopefully enjoying a marvelous and happy 75th birthday (October 1), Edward Villella, founding artistic director of Miami City Ballet, had recently announced that he’s stepping down from his post at the end of the 2012-2013 season (April, 2013, to be exact).
And what steps those have been: Villella was one of New York City Ballet’s brightest stars under George Balanchine, who, along with Jacques d’Amboise helped make ballet popular for boys. (Click here to read our coverage on d’Amboise, including our recent LA Times story.) Or at least make the art form more masculine, Eddie having come from a boxing background. (Click here to read our LA Times story written on location in Miami, where we at The Report, were privileged to hang with Eddie and company for an entire day in 2006.)
Taking the sands of Miami Beach – a cultural wasteland some 25 years ago – and turning them into a glorious ballet company, Eddie Villella did in Miami what is still trying to be accomplished in Los Angeles. (Los Angeles Ballet recently completed its fifth season…click here for our coverage of LAB, a troupe we continually applaud and support.) But we digress: Eddie had star quality, yes, but he also had a fantastic vision and he realized it. Triumphing on his home turf of Manhattan several years ago, critics raved about the little company that could – and did. This summer Eddie took his dancers to Paris. They came, they danced, they conquered. (Above photo: Eddie in dance trunks, Mr. B on the right)
Mr. V. says he will pursue other dance-related projects when he leaves his beloved company. Of course, we look forward to those plans, but with a heavy heart and, well, leaden feet. In the interim, MCB’s current season brings a new ballet by Liam Scarlett, as well as a feast of Balanchine and Robbins works – dances for which the company is known – along with great stuff from Twyla Tharp and Chris Wheeldon, and classics, including Giselle, Coppélia and, of course, The Nutcracker. We at The Report have family in Florida who are subscribers to MCB and wouldn’t miss a performance. Wish we were there, but instead, when the troupe last came to LA in 2008, we were honored to chat with Eddie again, this time in his own words for the radio (click here for our KUSC interview).
MCB principal dancers & real life Romeo & Juliet: Jennifer Kronenberg & Carlos Guerra
In short, we love you, Eddie Villella. Have a most happy birthday October 1 – and long may you jeté – in whatever form!