Edward Villella has been recognized as the greatest male ballet dancer ever produced in America. A star at the New York City Ballet, he has received nearly every important honor given to artists in the United States. He showed the world that a tough brash kid out of Maritime College could turn into a major artist, and in doing so, changed the way men danced in America as well as the way male dancers were perceived. He has lectured all over the world.
Mr. Villella has received nearly every important honor given to artists in the United States. He was appointed by President Johnson to the Presidents National Council of the Arts. In 1997 he was the recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors and was also awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton. In 1999 The Dance Heritage Coalition named him as one of the first 100 of America’s Irreplaceable Dance Treasures, in 2009 he was awarded a fellowship to the Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 2013 received the award for Distinguished Service to the Arts by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Mr. Villella has honorary doctor of fine arts degrees from Fordham University, The Boston Conservatory of Music, Long Island University, the College of Charleston, Allegheny College, Skidmore College, Florida Atlantic University, Sienna College, St Thomas College and Florida State University. He was awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of North Carolina.
Mr. Villella was the first American male dancer to perform with the Royal Danish Ballet, and the only American ever to be asked to dance an encore at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. He danced for President Kennedy’s inauguration and for Presidents Johnson, Nixon and Ford. He was producer/director for the PBS series “Dance in America” for one and a-half years, and in 1975 won an Emmy Award for his CBS television production of “Harlequinade.” He currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the School of American Ballet. In 1998, the University of Pittsburgh Press reissued Villella’s 1992 autobiography, Prodigal Son: Dancing for Balanchine in a World of Pain and Magic, written with Larry Kaplan.
In 1986 Edward Villella founded the Miami City Ballet which garnered international acclaim. He was also the Faculty Chair for the Miami City Ballet School. He left in September 2012 and now resides in New York.