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Lourdes Lopez to be new artistic director of Miami City Ballet

April 4, 2012 | 10:00 am

Lourdes Lopez will be the new artistic director of the Miami City BalletThe imposing task of succeeding founder/artistic director Edward Villella at Miami City Ballet will go to Lourdes Lopez, the company announced Tuesday. Lopez, a former New York City Ballet principal dancer who was with that company from 1974 to 1996, is currently director of Morphoses, and was previously the executive director of the George Balanchine Foundation.

Villella, who founded the Miami troupe in 1986, announced last fall he would retire at the end of the 2012-13 season. Lopez will become artistic director as of May 1, 2013.

The selection of Lopez retains the company’s strong association with the Balanchine’s ballets, which have formed the core of its repertory, and in which the company has gained an international reputation for excellence.

“It’s clearly the rep that I know and that I love – that I’ve been an advocate of,” Lopez said from the Morphoses office in New York, hours after learning she had the job. “Their board is very interested and committed to the Balanchine rep -- as I am. I said, absolutely that would not change. But there is the possibility of introducing other works -- and certainly commissioned work. They started this year with Liam [Scarlett] and Alexei [Ratmansky], and it would be great to continue that."

She continued, “Edward is such an effective artistic director; you can see that. The resources are there; the materials are there, in terms of the dancers and their philosophy on approaching work, and approaching these ballets. They have a tremendous rep. It feels like this luxury to walk in there and feel, most of it is done; I just need to evolve it, to build on it, to expand on what already is there. It’s exciting.

“They don’t have much contemporary work; I’d like to introduce some of that. It’s important for the dancers of today; they should be dancing everything.”

She mentioned William Forsythe as one choreographer she would hope to add, and also the possibility of including works by seminal modern-dance figures Martha Graham and José Limón.

Miami City Ballet’s selection committee considered 35 candidates during its five-month search. Lopez (and others) spent several days with the company in February, teaching class and meeting with the dancers.

“It was a very interesting time, because I felt they were dancers who were really truly committed to Miami City Ballet,” she said. “They felt that it was their company to protect and uphold, and they were very involved in the process. I thought, good for them, good for not being put in a process where they were led, but rather they were voicing their opinion.

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Alexei Ratmansky aims to transform 'Firebird'

---Susan Reiter

Photo: Lourdes Lopez. Credit: Miami City Ballet

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