Edward Villella will receive the Mary Bywaters Award for Lifetime Contribution to Dance. He was one of the foremost dancers in the 20th century and a talented artistic director of the Miami City Ballet. Villella was long associated with George Balanchine. He joined the New York City Ballet in 1957. By 1960, Villella was promoted to principal and a famed career with the company followed. He danced in many of the ballets considered Balanchine’s most brilliant works. Among his unforgettable performances are: Prodigal Son, Apollo, Rubies section of Jewels, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Harlequinade.
Villella’s danced at the White House for four presidents. In 1997 the National Medal of the Arts was awarded by President Bill Clinton at the Kennedy Center Honors. Villella is the only American ever asked to dance an encore at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. After retiring, Villella directed Ballet Oklahoma (now Oklahoma City Ballet) then, for 26 years, Villella was the founding artistic director of the Miami City Ballet. Villella was named on the 100 of America’s Irreplaceable Dance Treasures by the Dance Heritage Coalition.