Miami City Ballet announced today that founding artistic director Edward Villella bid farewell to the company this morning. It set the ballet world abuzz, since successor Lourdes Lopez wasn't scheduled to take over until until April 2013.
The reason for his sudden departure from the company, which he founded in 1986, isn't clear. But in the press release issued by MCB, the former New York City Ballet star said he was "confident the future of the company, the dancers and the school was secure and bright."
Villella e-mailed his farewell to the dancers staff, explaining "as those close to me know, I am not good with goodbyes." His message was poignant. "To our amazing company of dancers, I salute you for your achievements and know that you will continue to make Miami and the world sit up and take notice. To the staff, it has been an honor to work with such dedicated and accomplished professionals. Through our triumphs, we have also had challenges, and I couldn't have wished for a stronger group of people to be by my side....Lourdes is ready to take you through the season ahead, and I am confident it will be brilliant."
It's a quiet ending to Villella's turbulent last few years at MCB. Villella announced in 2011 that he'd be leaving the company, a decision he was apparently strong-armed into by the company's board of directors. Lopez, a fellow former New York City Ballet dancer, was selected as his replacement this past April.