Its unfortunate; its awful, Villella said. We cant cultivate a major portion of our art form, which is the males, [because of it]. We need someone to put those ladies down, present them, look after the women on the stage.
I was a physical person all my life.
And still is.
Despite hip replacement surgery, nagging arthritis and back problems, he continues to teach a 90-minute class every day at Miami City Ballet.
Much of his life these days is spent preparing for the companys first-ever trip to Paris in July, appearing at the Theatre du Chatelet July 6 through 23.
He doesnt talk about it, but you can tell he was a boxer and a dancer, because whens teaching us, hes always moving, always light on his feet, said Suzanne Limbrunner, a Miami City Ballet dancer. Hes super-active.
Still, his fighting days are long done, aside from last weeks eventful visit to South Beach. Even when he trained there decades back, he kept mostly to himself and out of the ring.
But his love affair with the sport has never faded. At the same time his dancing career was at its zenith, boxing was experiencing a similar boom. He attended the celebrated bout between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in 1971, known as the Fight of the Century, and later mused to reporters that Ali had lost in part because he was not fully aware of his body.
Now, four decades later, boxing and ballet are connected again, but this time for less celebrated reasons. Both have seen interest wane in recent years.
These things sometimes are cyclical, he said. In ballet, it would take a brilliant choreographer, or a number of brilliant dancers who are guest artists all over the world, which would raise the visibility of the art form.
In boxing, you need charismatic, strong heavyweight champions, he added. You look at a [Manny] Pacquiao now, and why isnt the whole world going crazy?
Maybe it would if more fighters had Villellas left hook.