- Edward Villella
JEssenia Villela (born
October 1, 1936, Bayside, New York) is an American balletdancer and choreographer, frequently cited as America's most celebrated male dancer.
Villela enrolled in the
School of American Balletat age ten, but then interrupted his studies to complete his college education. He attended the New York Maritime Academy, where he lettered in baseballand was a championship boxer. He graduated with a marine science degree in 1959, and rejoined the School of American Ballet.
Villella became a member of the
New York City Balletin 1957, rising to Soloist in 1958 and Principal Dancer in 1960. Among his most noteworthy performances were Oberon in George Balanchine's ballet "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (with music by Felix Mendelssohn), "Tarantella", "Rubies" in the Balanchine ballet "Jewels", and "Prodigal Son."
Villella was the first American male dancer to appear with the
Royal Danish Ballet, and the only American ever asked to dance an encore at the Bolshoi Theatrein Moscow. He danced at the inaugural for President John F. Kennedy, and performed for Presidents Johnson, Nixon, and Ford. He won an Emmy Awardin 1975for his CBStelevision production of "Harlequinade". He danced in two television versions of " The Nutcracker" (in different roles), in a ballet film version of "A Midsummer Night's Dream", and in a 1966 TV production of " Brigadoon", in which he played the tragic suitor Harry Beaton. During the 1960's he and his dancing partner Patricia McBride, who starred together in a 1965 televisionversion of "The Nutcracker", appeared often on the " Ed Sullivan Show". In 1973, Villella appeared as himself in an episode of "The Odd Couple" titled "Last Tango in Newark"; his son, Roddy, also appeared. In 1983, Villella guest-starred on the soap opera" Guiding Light".
After retirement as a performer, Villella was the artistic coordinator of the Eglevsky Ballet from 1979-84, and the director of the
Oklahoma Balletfrom 1983-85. He founded the Miami City Ballet in 1986 and still serves as its artistic director and chief executive officer. He is also currently artist-in-residence at Florida Atlantic University.
Villella and his wife Linda, a former Olympic figure skater, have three children: a son named Roddy and two daughters named Lauren and Crista.
In 1997, Villella was named a
Kennedy Center Honorsrecipient, and was awarded the National Medal of Artsby President Bill Clinton.
* [http://www.kennedy-center.org/calendar/index.cfm?fuseaction=showIndividual&entitY_id=3817&source_type=A Kennedy Center biography of Edward Villella]
* [http://www.miamicityballet.org/ Miami City Ballet website]
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