Knight officials say they have not guaranteed anything to the ballet and have distanced themselves from the fray. No grant has been promised to MCB; no such grant has been authorized by KF trustees, Knight President and CEO Alberto Ibargüen wrote in an email. Whatever moves the MCB trustees have made have been made on their own.
Some say the controversy and the perception that Villella was treated badly means the move backfired on the executive board.
At least four board members have said they will leave or are considering stepping down once Villella is gone.
Theres a basic lack of understanding of how fragile great art is, says longtime board member Marvin Ross Friedman. When its achieved its so magical. Here we have great art and were throwing it away.
The biggest question hangs over the ballet company itself and whether it will sustain the quality and reputation Villella has spent a quarter-century building.
Board members like Codina say MCB will be fine once it is on a more stable economic foundation, and that it will serve the community better if it focuses on performances at home instead of high-profile shows elsewhere.
And they say that, although the process has been painful, it was necessary and now its time to move on.
It had to happen and its very, very hard, said Ansin. The emphasis should be on moving forward.
Others say the troupe will take an artistic hit that is not measurable in dollars and cents.
Theyre going to lose a great teacher, a great reconstructor of American ballet classics, whose name alone carries a standard of excellence, says Sally Sommer, a well-known dance writer and professor at Florida State University in Tallahassee. The company is going to have to put itself back together after it has been scattered like a jigsaw puzzle.
As he nears the end of his time with the troupe he thought would be his lifes best work, Villella looks gaunt and haggard. Friends say he has insomnia and trouble eating. The man who bounded through rehearsals with the energy of the boxer he once was now shuffles slowly. He and his wife Linda are selling their home in Miami Beach, and plan to move back to New York as soon as the final shows of his last season are done, sources say.
They dont understand what has made Miami City Ballet so special and different, says a longtime dancer who asked not to be identified. How Edward has taught us to think about dancing, how youre doing it, why youre doing it that way, what the music is telling you how its driven by your mind.
They dont understand. They think nothings gonna change.
A previous version of this story incorrectly characterized the reasons for the secrecy surrounding Edward Villella's departure. A statement attributed to board chairwoman Ana-Marie Codina Barlick should have explained that the secrecy was due to a confidentiality agreement that had been signed by both sides.