Miami City Ballet founder Edward Villella, who was scheduled for retirement in 2013 after the MCB's board of directors allegedly forced him out of the company he founded in 1986, has stepped down from his post, the Miami Herald reports.
The 75-year-old company director's abrupt departure is yet another sign of deep conflict within the organization, after the resignation of MCB's executive director Nick Goldsborough in June, and a controversial selection process leading to the appointment of Lourdes Lopez to replace Villella at the time of his scheduled replacement.
An announcement about Villella's departure asserted that the MCB board and Villella agreed that it was better to "speed the transition," the Herald reports. New artistic director Lopez will step into Villella's place immediately.
Villella is known to many in Miami's ballet community as the heart and soul of the MCB, having spent more than a quarter of a century growing the company into an internationally respected group of dancers, choreographers, and artists. An emailed message to his students and colleagues indicated that he would not be saying goodbye to them in person.
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And Villella's not the only longtime MCB employee to leave the company. Board member Marvin Ross Friedman told the Herald he was also stepping down, calling Villella's departure "a great injustice to a great artist and an unrecoverable loss to our community," blaming the board.
Rumor has it that the underlying issue causing such friction at MCB has been fundraising, or lack thereof. It's hard to imagine, however, that such turmoil, much of it clouded in secrecy, within the company's own ranks will do much to inspire greater financial investments.