An era is ending at Miami City Ballet. In addition to the resignation of its founding director Edward Villella, his wife Linda is stepping down from her post at the helm of Miami City Ballet School on August 31st.
A former professional ice skater, she never intended to immerse herself in the ballet world and follow her husband’s artistic pursuits. The idea sprung from her desire to create a ballet school for her daughter, Crista. She wanted a ballet school closer to her husband's Miami Beach company.
“This was done very innocently, in fact my husband was dead set against it. There were a lot of ballet school in the area and he did not want me competing with them and offending them,” she said.
Eventually the school would grow into one of the best ballet academies in the country. Several students have even gone on to dance for the Miami City Ballet.
Originally located inside a building that stood at the heart of Lincoln Road (where Victoria’s Secret currently stands), it didn’t look quite as picturesque as it did today.
“I remember sitting, I had a little tiny office at the very back, being on the phone telling a parent once telling them how wonderful it would be to come to this school and I’m sitting on the back of my chair at the top of my chair because I’ve got six or seven baby mice running around my feet. It was very different than here."
Villella had another idea to recruit the students and future talent. So she called a few friends, veterans of the administrative aspect of the ballet world. New applicants received a full tuition scholarship to the summer program.
That summer proved to be a turning point for the school.
“From that and from the word-of-mouth we never had a problem after that […] The kids who returned home to their [ballet] school actually skipped a level,” said Villella.
Villella came a long way from sitting in her mice-infested office. She was eventually able to recruit international talent.
“I think there are so many highs with this. And just to have all the love and support from the parents, it’s just amazing.