Edward Villella, recognized as America’s most celebrated male dancer and the founding artistic director of the Miami City Ballet, will chair the International Jury for the 2014 USA International Ballet Competition. He accepted the position with the energy and passion that have characterized his career since he joined the New York City Ballet at age 21.
“I am honored to chair the International Jury, and I plan to be quite active. I look forward to teaching every day, to seeing competitors in class as well as on stage. I will encourage my colleagues on the jury and company directors who are attending USA IBC also to observe classes.”
He succeeds Bruce Marks, International Jury chair for six competitions, 1990 through 2010. Marks merits high praise for his years of leadership in “embracing and furthering the vision of the USA IBC to be recognized as the gold standard among ballet competitions worldwide,” said Sue Lobrano, USA IBC executive director since 1986.
“Bruce preached and practiced the concept that with each USA IBC competition, the process is the prize: The experience of being selected and preparing to dance on the stage in Jackson is highly valuable to young people seeking to make their mark in the dance world.”
Haley Fisackerly, chairman of the USA IBC Board of Directors, noted the board’s appreciation of the “many contributions” Marks made to USA IBC, adding, “We wish him continued success.”
No stranger to USA IBC, Villella was honorary chairman for the 2002 competition and attended subsequent competitions to hire dancers for the Miami City Ballet, which he led to critical acclaim in his 26 years there. He was awarded a National Medal of Arts by President Bill Clinton and named a Kennedy Center honoree in 1997.
An icon of ballet and author of Prodigal Son: Dancing for Balanchine in a World of Pain and Magic, Villella popularized the role of the male in American dance. Born in Bayside, New York, he trained at the School of American Ballet and continues today as a member of its board of directors. He danced for at least four American presidents and throughout his years as a ballet master has passed along to students the knowledge he received from George Balanchine, described in Prodigal Son as his “artistic father.” Prior to Villella’s departure in 2012, Miami City Ballet was featured in a PBS special, Miami City Ballet Dances Balanchine and Tharp.
The 10th USA IBC is scheduled for June 14-29, 2014, at Thalia Mara Hall in Jackson. One hundred dancers from 31 countries participated in the 2010 event, and a similar number are expected to be chosen for next year’s competition.