Edward Villella’s position at the helm of the Miami Ballet appears to be in trouble.
You might ask: Who? What? If you read the piece, you’ll see that the issue seems to be one that pervades the arts these days, where the money people often don’t quite get what the arts are all about, and quality suffers.
But although that’s an idea that interests me, what interests me even more about the article is Edward Villella.
Ah Villella! He taught a master class I attended once; don’t remember where. I had a long and jumungous crush on him (my ex-husband actually looked something like him, and I think that was no accident). Villella was that rarity: a seemingly “regular guy” who nevertheless danced ballet with great energy and flair. His technique wasn’t perfect (he’d taken time off to get a college degree, at his father’s request) but it was plenty good enough.
Strangely enough, I can find no videos of Villella dancing in his heyday. Pity. But these photos may give you a rough idea of what I found so compelling:
It turns out that age has been very, very kind to Villella. Or perhaps he’s been kind to it. Or maybe he’s got a great plastic surgeon, but I see no evidence of that (although hair dye is probably part of the deal). Here’s a talk Villella gave in Chicago when he was 74 years old (no, that’s not a typo). It’s long, but just watch the first minute or two and I think that his personal story (which lasts only for about the first 10 minutes) will fascinate you (it starts with a longshot but fairly quickly moves to a closeup):
His story reminds me so much of this, from “A Chorus Line”:
I don’t know why it’s so hard to find any video sof Villella dancing; after all, it’s not as though he was famous back in 1850. But in my search I came across this video, which was supposed to feature him but has nothing to do with him. But it’s pretty great anyway; Gene Kelly tapping away with Sugar Ray Robinson, and Sugar Ray gives him a very creditable run for his money: