American Male Ballet Icon, Edward Villella, stopped by Kansas City Ballet’s studios on Sept. 4 to teach class to our company dancers in addition to giving a free educational lecture to patrons of KC Ballet as well as the Harriman-Jewel Series.
Mr. Villella and fellow NYC Ballet star Patricia McBride were the first Harriman-Jewell Series’ performers in 1965 and Mr. Villella returned to Kansas City as the guest speaker for opening convocation at William Jewell College.
Often regarded as the most celebrated American male dancer of all time, Mr. Villella was a dancer with New York City Ballet in the ’50s and was promoted to principal dancer in 1960. He worked closely with George Balanchine, and had many roles created on him by the iconic choreographer. One of Mr. Villella’s most recognized roles was the lead in Mr. Balanchine’s 1960 revival of Prodigal Son.
The video below gives an inside look into the early dancing years of Mr. Villella. He recounts a touching story about his father’s hesitation to accept his desire to be a ballet dancer and how his father eventually came to recognize and appreciate the talent his son possessed.