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Interview with Edward Villella (by Marina Harss)EV talks about leaving Miami City Ballet


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#31 Jayne

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 02:26 PM

MCB might do well to replace NYCB at Saratoga each summer.  It would be a good fit and their financials are less costly than NYCB.  



#32 Kristen

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 03:50 PM

Thanks to all for a lively discussion on this topic.  I admit I initially erred by posting a knee jerk reaction to EV’s Miami bashing.  When you spend every year for 5 decades plus hearing how much better it is “up north” or “back home”, eventually you end up as a reactionary lunatic.  This is a ballet forum, not a “take it and stick it, New Joisey and New Yawk forum!  That said, I so appreciate that Villella created Miami City Ballet and we now, for the first time, have what I call a “first rate, second tier ballet company”  in Florida. Need I mention that the Delgado sisters of MCB were named in the NY Times article on Sunday as being among the 11 finest American ballerinas.

 

Although EV doesn’t like the Giselle’s etc. he disses in the interview, I have attended MCB’s Don Q and Giselle and they were not “world class”, but very respectable and enjoyable, not to mention well attended (I see MCB at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach. Matinees are PACKED because hey, old people don’t want to drive at night.  I still have excellent night vision but go to matinees, because a relaxed dinner out afterward is almost as important as ballet!).

 

In fact, I have introduced some of my non ballet watching friends to ballet by gifting them with tickets to see MCB’s Don Q.  Lucky for them, Jeanette Delgado danced that day.  They were dazzled.  EV’s all Balanchine, all the time, has worn on me over the years – HUH?  are there actually people who WANT to see Bugaku – if there are, they weren’t in the audience with me.  I’ll be the first to say Balanchine was a genius – this is not to say he didn’t do ballets that made me say “I paid for this ???” – and believe me Villella staged a bucketload of those in 25 years.

 

Okay, stop me from criticizing – Viva Villella for creating a great ballet company – and yes, leaving with a bitter taste in your mouth is not how anyone wants to go out the door, but it happens.

 

P.S.

 

CubanMiamiBoy – Thanks for pointing out that there IS an ice skating rink in Miami!

 

Jayne - Yes, they could replace NYCB in Saratoga - great idea - MCB wowed them Paris for 3 weeks



#33 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 05:00 PM

It is a strange feeling after reading the interview. As an outsider, 12 years resident of Miami, I can't help not to disagree to what Villella says. I definitely felt the same the only time I went back to Havana after I left, and I certainly feel it every time I come back from ballet trips to NYC. Thing is...as a part of a community that has indeed benefited from the efforts of different organizations-(MCB included along with Michael Tilson and his orchestra, the residency of the Cleveland, the Art Basel, etc...)- to change this view, and after mostly repeating yourself that the situation is indeed changing, you feel, after the reading, that you've been lying to yourself and tho the whole world when indeed the real situation is otherwise. Discouraging is what comes to my mind.



#34 Birdsall

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 05:06 PM

I do think Villella's comments are probably a kick to certain board members. I could be wrong. I doubt if he meant to alienate the audience he helped to build up, but he wanted to make certain board members feel very small like they are country hillbillies and know nothing. Afterall, they made him feel small.....basically got rid of him and told him he was not as important as he thought and took his "baby" away from him. 

 

That is my take on all this. I suspect he made those comments expecting and wanting the comments to reach very particular ears and didn't think (or maybe even care) about how it sounds to people he didn't mean to insult (like most MCB audience members). Whenever someone makes a comment like that there is usually a very specific reason and specific target. That is my gut reaction. 



#35 kfw

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 06:14 PM

I do think Villella's comments are probably a kick to certain board members. I could be wrong. I doubt if he meant to alienate the audience he helped to build up, but he wanted to make certain board members feel very small like they are country hillbillies and know nothing. Afterall, they made him feel small.....basically got rid of him and told him he was not as important as he thought and took his "baby" away from him. 

 

That is my take on all this. I suspect he made those comments expecting and wanting the comments to reach very particular ears and didn't think (or maybe even care) about how it sounds to people he didn't mean to insult (like most MCB audience members).

 

That could be, but how many uncultured (that should be "unhighcultured") people read dance blogs? Harss is great, but she's not exactly a household name.



#36 vrsfanatic

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 03:31 AM

While Mr. Villella may have been aiming his commentary toward certain Board members, through out the years his unkind statements about other thriving arts organizations in the South Florida area helped to lead to his lack of shall I say "emotional" support from the arts community. While I attended the performances in order to support dance and see other good dance in South Florida, his curtain discussions and interviews were at times impolite towards the other struggling arts organizations in the area. By struggling, I mean audience seeking not necessarily donor seeking. Many of us were/are subscribers and donors.

 

As for the South Florida lifestyle and the Northerners living and visiting our area, the outdoor life is amazing here, without a doubt. That activity base dwindles after 6:00PM. Residents and tourists do look for wonderful things to do at night. Particularly in Miami, there is a very large segment of the population that attends the theatre on a very large scale. What has changed is that there are more events to attend than ever before. The financial base to what it is. The buildings are here, with opulence and glory. Thirty years ago those buildings were not even here. Ballet, opera and the symphony were thriving with the help and dedication of Judy Drucker and her Concert Association of South Florida at the Jackie Gleason Theatre and at Miami Dade Auditorium. Many of the donors are still active while many have passed away and the families have not taken up the same interest. There is however audience interest in the arts.

 

As a side note, our most attend performances are matinees. Difficult to get a ticket. This is the same for most of the theatrical arts organizations in Boca Raton. While we are not in Miami, for Boca Raton it is huge to be sold out consistently for matinees, even in August!

 

That said, the article was enlightening and interesting. As I said earlier, I wish him well and I thank him for all that he did achieve while he was in the South Florida area.



#37 Birdsall

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 04:13 AM

Just to clarify about my previous comments about nature being a draw and a competing force. When you are on a boat fishing all day or if you are snorkeling or at the beach all day, most people opt to have a casual dinner at night at a restaurant. I think there are some people who can stay at a beach for hours and then still go to the ballet at night, but I know I am the type of person that if I am going to a performance at night I prefer to have a calmer day during the day and just make it a day to run errands. The heat is just too tiring. If I stayed at the beach all day later that night I would be exhausted at the theatre and fight dozing off. 



#38 Jayne

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 09:45 AM

it does sound like more matinees would help the bottom line of MCB, though.  It goes against conventional wisdom to book a series of matinees on weekdays but given the number of retirees in the Florida region, it could make good fiscal sense.



#39 sandik

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Posted 10 July 2013 - 11:44 AM


 

That could be, but how many uncultured (that should be "unhighcultured") people read dance blogs? Harss is great, but she's not exactly a household name.

 

That may be so, but I imagine that those comments have already been copied and circulated broadly in the Florida arts community.



#40 kbarber

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Posted 10 July 2013 - 12:08 PM

it does sound like more matinees would help the bottom line of MCB, though.  It goes against conventional wisdom to book a series of matinees on weekdays but given the number of retirees in the Florida region, it could make good fiscal sense.

The National Ballet of Canada has done Thursday matinees for years, along with its Saturday and Sunday matinees, and the Thursday performances are among the most-booked of the runs. The house is full of seniors.



#41 sandik

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Posted 10 July 2013 - 12:18 PM

The mid-week matinee seems to be a very regional item -- they're very well attended in some communities, and have dropped almost completely out of programming in others.  This extends to film as well as live performances.



#42 bart

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Posted 10 July 2013 - 12:43 PM

One advantage that matinees have is that you don't have to drive to the theater when it is dark.  This plays a major role when the "high culture" audience (to use kfw's term) is elderly.

 

Any addition of matinees (or shifts to them) has to be handled carefully, with a lot of publicity and marketing support.  I may be misremembering, but it seems to me that Miami did add a Friday matinee to their West Palm weekend several years ago, but it was not a success and thus was not repeated.



#43 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 10 July 2013 - 04:16 PM

Villella had a particular way to treat the bulk of the ballet environment here in Miami.  He never seemed to care about involving his company in the Ballet Festival..."Why is that MCB does not participate in the Ballet Festival..?" is a common question that everybody wonders.  He never gave pre performance lectures in Miami..they were just reserved for Broward and WPB...he has continuously ignored the great potential coaching and teaching of wonderful golden age ballerinas that are struggling around this city without a decent place to pass their knowledge.  If someone had had the vision to link the great force behind the Cuban ballet community-(which includes rich donors, a distinctive audience, a continue influx of defecting dancers and a wonderful array of aging CBN ex members that could had been precious if placed within the wings of MCB)-Miami could be one hell of ballet community.  As per now, both ends are as separated as they can be.  I know many people is against the idea of MCB becoming a satellite of Alonso's network, but if done with good vision and intelligence, that should not be a problem at all.    The idea should be to attract defecting dancers to stay in Miami, and instead they keep coming to just jump somewhere else...somewhere where they feel more "at home".  Stories I know many, but because of the board's policies, I can't really mention them here, but believe me...the situation is really bad in that aspect.  Donors are more or less in the same boat. 



#44 Helene

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Posted 10 July 2013 - 04:42 PM

Villella was quite clear in his interview that he thinks Cuban dancers are based in the Russian school and needed to be "de-Russified" before they could dance his rep the way he wanted it danced. He would never bring in the dancers and coaches from the local Cuban communtiy because they would teach the style they knew, not the style he wanted.

#45 bart

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Posted 10 July 2013 - 04:49 PM

Cristian, I'm at a loss to respond to your post.  There is so much in what you say that I have, literally, never heard before.

 

Villella had a particular way to treat the bulk of the ballet environment here in Miami.  He never seemed to care about involving his company in the Ballet Festival..."Why is that MCB does not participate in the Ballet Festival..?" is a common question that everybody wonders
Interesting point.  One might add:  why did so few in the Miami community support this venture, either?  My experience with a couple of programs presented at the Kravis suggested that something was sabotaging the many good intensions. Whether it was the management or other forces, I don't know.  All I know is that the program had a good audience its first year and almost no one in the house the second year.  Is MCB's non-involvement reponsible for this, or something that the audience saw, and did not enjoy, going on on the stage?

 

He never gave pre performance lectures in Miami..they were just reserved for Broward and WPB...
I did not know this.  He certainly was not doing his job in that matter.   Paranthetically, my impression was that Villella never liked doing those talks.  On occasion, he actually seemed to be sleep walking through something he cared litle about.  Philip Neal and the conductor Gary Sheldon did a much better job the last two seasons.  I hope that Lourdes Lopez will take this job on during the new season.  In all 4 of the venues where MCB dances.

 

 

 

he has continuously ignored the great potential coaching and teaching of wonderful golden age ballerinas that are struggling around this city without a decent place to pass their knowledge.
Villella had a school and a company style.  I agree that it might have been a good idea to bring in Cuban-trained artists to help the dancers (especially the principals and soloists) with Don Q.(definitely) and Giselle (possibly).  Their other full-lengths -- Jewels, Coppellia and Nutcracker -- are Balanchine and got help from Balanchine repiteteurs.  (MCB brings in repiteteurs who have been certified by  the organization representing the choreographer.)

 

If someone had had the vision to link the great force behind the Cuban ballet community-(which includes rich donors, a distinctive audience, a continue influx of defecting dancers and a wonderful array of aging CBN ex members that could had been precious if placed within the wings of MCB)-Miami could be one hell of ballet community.  As per now, both ends are as separated as they can be.  I know many people is against the idea of MCB becoming a satellite of Alonso's network, but if done with good vision and intelligence, that should not be a problem at all.
I understand that there are people who feel this way, but aren't you talking about the complete overhaul of Miami City Ballet?  In effect, the creation of an entirely different company?  Personally, I'd love to see a closer connection between Cuban ballet and Miami ballet. -- exchange of dancers, teachers, students; occasional exchange of, or collaboration in, productions; etc..  But I would be appalled to think that this would lead to creating "a satellite of Alonso's network."  Many of us value highly what we have and what you seem to be asking us to give up.

 

There have been reports that Lopez is thinking of and even working on contacts with Havana.  There would be much value in a two-way connection between these two great organizations and traditions.  MCB   has a tradition of its own, with Balanchine at the heart..  That tradition is as cherished in the ballet world -- including its large local audience, most of the donors I am aware of, and the national and international press -- as that of Havana.  MCB also has its own school, its own company, its own artistic staff.  Somehow the idea that Miami City Ballet ought to serve as an employment agency to provide dancers and teachers from a very different tradition a chance to practice their own tradition in Miami,  no matter how worthy these artists are, is mind-boggling.




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