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Edward Villella, Photo courtesy of New York Public Library Edward Villella in George Balanchine's Prodigal Son (1929; originally called Le Fils prodigue). One of the roles with which he was most closely identified, Prodigal Son showcased Villella's dramatic power and virtuosic jumps. (Photograph from the Dance Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust.)


Edward Villella (1936- ) entered the School of American Ballet at ten and, after a five-year stint in the Merchant Marines, joined the New York City Ballet in 1957. While he is frequently associated with roles that emphasized dazzling elevation and technical brilliance—Tarantella, Thunderer in Stars and Stripes, the Rubies section of Jewels, Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux—his magnetism and range as a danseur and actor combined to make him an international star. Matched against personal virtuosity were the depth of his portrayals in Balanchine's Prodigal Son and Apollo, the classical nuances in La Sylphide, and the nearly motionless spectacle of Jerome Robbins's Watermill. Villella also made many television appearances, notably in the 1968 NBC film A Man Who Dances, and served as a consultant and producer-director for the PBS Dance in America series. Following his performance career, he served as artistic advisor to several regional companies and, in 1986, founded Miami City Ballet. As artistic director of the latter, he created an ensemble with a distinctive personality and style, while also giving fresh life to selected works from the Balanchine repertory. Among Villella's many honors are the National Medal of Arts and a Kennedy Center Honor for Lifetime Achievement. www.miamicityballet.org

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