WHO WILL REPLACE EDWARD VILLELLA?
Rumors have been swirling wildly, not just in Miami but throughout the worldwide ballet community, since Edward Villella, Miami City Ballet’s Founding Artistic Director, announced last September he would be leaving the company he built. Why did he resign? Who will succeed him as artistic director when he exits in 2013?
Surprisingly, Villella’s abrupt resignation came on the heels of Miami City Ballet’s three weeks of stellar performances this past summer in Paris’s Theatre du Chatelet, to sold-out houses and rave reviews.
According to a source close to the MCB, prima ballerina Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg, who has danced with the company for 18 years, is Villella’s choice as a successor. “Villella presented a plan and it seems it was thought out well before his resignation. It described specifics about preparing her and mentoring her for assuming the job of artistic director upon his retirement.”
The source confirmed that the Miami City Ballet board has already formed a search committee to find the replacement for the iconic Villella. “Within the company there is growing fear and discontent over the push for a national search because it could spell doom for Villella’s vision and the future of the company. Kronenberg seems likely to win the support of the dancers and she’d ease the transition of power much more so than an outside hire. Miami City Ballet is growing strong and has really taken off even more this past year. Bringing someone on as artistic director who’s had little or no connection to the company would be like ripping the floor out from underneath it.”
Kronenberg is on the search committee’s short list of five dancers, according to a reliable source, and is the only dancer from Miami under consideration. When reached for comment Kronenberg refused to confirm her candidacy in the interest of upholding company privacy policies. She added, “official information on candidates will most likely not become public until well after the search committee meets. But it’s fair to say that I’ve dedicated 18 years of my life to the company, and as one of MCB’s creations I’m innately passionate about the company. I’m certainly dedicated to making sure, to the best of my ability, that the company will find a way to uphold its artistic excellence, integrity and vision as it evolves.”
The charismatic Kronenberg recently authored a book for aspiring young dancers called, “So, You Want to Be a Ballet Dancer?” where she shows her teaching and mentoring side. She is married to Miami City Ballet principal dancer Carlos Guerra. Kronenberg and Guerra often represent the image of the Miami City Ballet, locally and when travelling to other cities. They were the faces of MCB in posters of last year’s Romeo and Juliet commemorative season.
Nicholas T. Goldsborough, an experienced administrator and fund-raiser who was hired as the new executive director of MCB in November, said about Kronenberg’s candidacy, “We’re really trying to conduct our search in a very private way at this time for a whole variety of reasons so I can’t comment on her candidacy. She is a fabulous dancer, I adore her and we greatly admire and prize her involvement with our company.”
If chosen, Kronenberg would join the elite ranks of the handful of women who have been artistic directors of American dance companies. Sylvia Waters has directed Ailey II for four decades and was chosen by Alvin Ailey after only seven years as lead dancer. Virginia Johnson was an accomplished dancer and recently returned to the Dance Theatre of Harlem to revamp it in her new position as artistic director.
However, as artistic director of a major ballet company, Kronenberg would be taking on an important role in what has historically been a man’s world. The decision of the search committee is expected this spring.
PHOTOS: JOE GATO www.joegato.com