(Miami Beach, FL: Sept. 23, 2011): Ron Esserman, Interim President of Miami City Ballet's Board of Trustees announced today 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.

Esserman states: “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.

As Edward has written: "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."

"In thinking about my career," said Villella, "first as a principal dancer at New York City Ballet and later as the Founding Artistic Director of Miami City Ballet - there are two moments that really stand out for me and represent the zenith of my life as a working artist.  The first moment came in Moscow in 1962 during the Cuban missile crisis.  Despite the enormous ideological divide, the Soviet audience embraced me as a dancer and called me out for an unprecedented encore following my performance.  The second moment came this past July in Paris when Miami City Ballet made its debut in a three-week season at the famed Théâtre du Châtelet.  This time it was my dancers who received standing ovations and a wildly enthusiastic response from the Parisian audiences. I couldn't have been more proud of their accomplishments."

"My plan," continued Villella, "is to build a bridge upon the enormous success we had in Paris, so that our Board of Trustees and South Florida communities can go the next step when I depart in two years."     

Interim Board President Ron Esserman further states: "Speaking for our Board, for the Company itself and for the entire community, I want to express our deepest gratitude and admiration for the achievements of this artistic genius. I also want to take this opportunity to express my personal affection for this extraordinary man. It has been a privilege to work with, and for, him.

In order to preserve continuity of purpose and the great legacy Edward is leaving us with, we are beginning the search for his successor. We can only hope that we manage to find someone worthy to fill his shoes."

Miami City Ballet’s 26th season opens October 21, 2011 and runs through April 15, 2012 at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale and Kravis Center in West Palm Beach.  For tickets, call (305) 929-7010 or toll-free (877) 929-7010 or visit miamicityballet.org.

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