The MCB Mission
Miami City Ballet's mission is to produce and present the highest level of dance performances throughout Florida, the United States and abroad, train young aspiring dancers, and develop Miami City Ballet School into a leader of dance education.
Described by The New York Times as “an exceptional troupe, by Balanchine standards, anywhere in the world,” Miami City Ballet (MCB) is led by Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez and is considered a leader in the field – nurturing new choreographic voices, creating innovative collaborations and opening new avenues of inclusivity within classical ballet.
Founded in 1985 by Miami philanthropist Toby Lerner Ansin and Founding Artistic Director and ballet legend Edward Villella, MCB is universally admired as one of the world’s preeminent interpreters of the choreography of George Balanchine. For fifteen years, Peruvian dancer and choreographer Jimmy Gamonet De los Heros was the company’s first and only resident choreographer. Of the many ballets he created for the company, Transtangos became a beloved signature work. Its repertory of more than 100 ballets, including 12 world premieres, was built upon the Balanchine repertory, style and technique and then expanded to include beloved classical works of importance and exciting new choreography by contemporary and ground-breaking artists. MCB maintains annual seasons in Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Broward and Collier Counties, serving more than 132,000 patrons in South Florida through four diverse repertory programs; the treasured Christmas fairytale, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®; and an expansive national touring program. MCB has toured extensively throughout the United States, Canada and Europe and its 2016 debut at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater was hailed by the national press as a resounding success. The New York Times’ Alastair Macaulay wrote, “Of all the ballet troupes who have visited the Koch in recent years, none looks so truly and completely a company.”
Miami City Ballet School (MCB School), founded in 1993, is one of the largest dance training programs in the nation, training dancers for careers with MCB and other professional companies throughout the world. MCB School’s expanded national and international audition tours attract more than 1,300 students each season, and MCB School’s scholarship program offers support to children from around the corner and across the globe, providing nearly $500,000 worth of scholarships each year. As one of the most diverse classical ballet companies in the nation, MCB serves as a gateway to the Americas for dancers from Central and South America, resulting in a robust international roster of both dancers and students.
MCB’s transformative Share the Dance: Community Outreach and Educational Programs reach deep into the community, touching nearly 23,000 young people, seniors and other traditionally underserved community members annually through a wide array of programming. This expanded portfolio of programs introduces new and underserved audiences to the art form of classical ballet while building strong community relationships and engagement with the arts.
Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez, joined MCB in 2012. Lopez was born in Havana, Cuba and raised in Miami. She danced with New York City Ballet for 24 years under George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, joining in 1974 at the age of 16, with promotions to soloist in 1981 and principal in 1984. After retiring from the stage, Ms.Lopez went on to become the executive director of The George Balanchine Foundation and co-founded the innovative dance company Morphoses.
Prior to Lopez’s tenure, MCB was led by Founding Artistic Director Edward Villella, the first American-born male star of New York City Ballet (1957-1975).
The Company’s repertoire has over 100 ballets, including a number of world premieres such as Liam Scarlett’s Viscera and Euphotic, Alexei Ratmansky’s Symphonic Dances and The Fairy's Kiss, and Justin Peck’s Chutes and Ladders and Heatscape.
The dancers of MCB are an international corps. Currently, more than half of the Company are graduates of the Miami City Ballet School.
In addition, our dancers also have professional experience with a diverse roster of world-class companies including New York City Ballet, Boston Ballet, National Ballet of Cuba and American Ballet Theatre; as well as training from renowned facilities such as the School of American Ballet, San Francisco Ballet School, Joffrey Ballet School and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet.
Miami City Ballet has toured extensively in the United States, performing in more than 100 U.S. cities. Domestic appearances include:
- 1996 Olympic Arts Festival
- Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts
- Chautauqua Festival
- Chicago Auditorium Theatre
- Cleveland Playhouse
- David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
- Detroit Opera House
- Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival
- John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
- Los Angeles Music Center
- Madison Festival of the Lakes
- McCarter Theater
- New Jersey Performing Arts Center
- New York City Center
- Orange County Performing Arts Center
- Ravinia Festival
- Saratoga Performing Arts Center
- Shubert Theater
- Spoleto Festival
- SUNY at Purchase
- Tilles Center
- University of Minnesota - Northrup
- Vail International Dance Festival
- Wolf Trap Farm Park
In 2015, Miami City Ballet toured to Canada with appearances in Vancouver, British Columbia at Ballet BC’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre and in Ottawa, Ontario at the National Arts Centre. The performances mark several firsts – the Company’s Vancouver premiere and its first tour under artistic director Lourdes Lopez.
In July 2011, MCB made its Paris debut at the Théâtre du Châtelet as the featured dance company for the annual Les Etés de la Danse Festival.
MCB has also performed extensively throughout Europe, South America, Central America and Israel during its 30-year history. International appearances include:
- TorinoDanza 2000 (Italy)
- 1994 & 1995 Edinburgh International Festivals (Scotland)
- 1990 Lyon Biennale Internationale de la Danse (France)
- Festival Internacionel de Cultura Paiz (Guatemala)
Ophelia & Juan Js. Roca Center
In January 2000, MCB took occupancy of its own Miami Beach headquarters, the Ophelia & Juan Js. Roca Center, achieved through a capital campaign which begun in 1997.
The 63,000 square foot facility houses eight rehearsal studios (two of which combine to create a 200-seat theater), school facilities, MCB’s wardrobe department and costume shop, a fully equipped therapy room, and administrative space. The building was designed by the award-winning architect Bernardo Fort-Brescia of ARQUITECTONICA.
Lourdes Lopez became Artistic Director of Miami City Ballet (MCB) in September 2012, bringing with her a nearly 40-year career in dance, television, teaching and arts management. As a Soloist and Principal Dancer with New York City Ballet, she danced for two legends of the art form, George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins.
Lopez was born in Havana, Cuba in 1958 and raised in Miami by her parents along with two sisters. She began taking ballet lessons at the age of 5, on the recommendation of a doctor. At the age of 11 she received a full scholarship to the School of American Ballet, (SAB), the official school of New York City Ballet, where she continued her ballet training in Miami during the year and then in New York during the summers. At 14, she moved to New York permanently to devote herself to full-time studies at SAB, and shortly after turning 16, she joined the corps de ballet of New York City Ballet.
Under the direction of George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, her star rose quickly at New York City Ballet where she was soon dancing corps and soloist roles in much of the company’s repertory. She was promoted to Soloist in 1981 and Principal Dancer in 1984, performing countless featured roles including Violin Concerto, Firebird, Serenade, Liebeslieder Walzer, Divertimento No. 15, Symphony in C, Agon, The Four Temperaments, Dances at a Gathering, Glass Pieces, Fancy Free, In the Night, Four Seasons, and Brandenburg. Lopez’s great interest in children also found her writing and contributing to many of the company’s Family Matinee series.
Upon retirement, Lopez joined WNBC-TV in New York as a Cultural Arts reporter, writing and producing feature segments on the arts, artists and arts education. She was also a full-time senior faculty member and Director of Student Placement, Student Evaluation and Curriculum Planning at New York’s Ballet Academy East. She served on the dance faculty of Barnard College and guest taught at numerous dance institutions and festivals in the United States.
In 2002, Lopez became the Executive Director of The George Balanchine Foundation, which works to educate the public about dance and to further the art of ballet, with a special emphasis on the work and achievements of George Balanchine. In this position, she oversaw the 2004 Balanchine Centennial Celebration, a worldwide festival honoring the choreographer and his legacy. Among the events that year was the symposium "Balanchine: Past, Present and Future," which was held in St. Petersburg, Russia, and which was a collaboration among the Mariinsky Theater, the Hermitage Museum, and The George Balanchine Foundation. Lopez co-founded The Cuban Artists Fund, which supports Cuban and Cuban-American artists in their endeavors. She also co-founded Morphoses with Christopher Wheeldon in 2007 -- a New York-based dance company aiming to revitalize dance through innovative collaborations with important artists from the worlds of music, visual arts, design, film and fashion; and by inviting younger and broader audiences to engage in and actively experience dance.
In 2014 Lopez was elected to serve on the Ford Foundation’s Board of Trustees, marking the first time an artist was elected to serve on its board. In 2007 she received an award from the American Immigration Law Foundation honoring Cuban Americans for their accomplishments and contributions to American society and in 2011, she received the prestigious Jerome Robbins Award for her years in dance. She has served as a dance panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts. Lopez is married to investment banker George Skouras. They are the parents of two daughters: Adriel and Calliste.
Juan José Escalante worked with MCB early in his career when the organization was operating at store front on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. For the past twenty years, he has served as Executive Director for Ballet Florida, Orlando Ballet, and the José Limón Dance Foundation. In each of these roles, Juan José partnered with artistic and community leaders in management of daily operations including fundraising, financial, and marketing oversight.
Juan José holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Management from the Herbert H. Lehman College City University of New York and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. In addition, he completed the Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management Program at Harvard University Business School.
Toby Lerner Ansin
When she was 5 years old, at the suggestion of an orthopedist, Toby Lerner Ansin’s parents enrolled her in a beginning ballet class to help counteract a condition known as pronation, which occurs when one’s ankles turn in. That class was the beginning of a passionate love affair Toby has had with ballet that continues to this day. Until she was fourteen, determined to become a professional ballet dancer, Toby took classes six days a week. But one day she looked in the mirror at some of the other students in her class and then at herself and that evening calmly told her parents she was no longer going to pursue a career in ballet because while she had the drive, she didn’t have the body or talent to be a dancer. “I look like a limping giraffe,” she said, with finality. Nevertheless, she continued to regularly take class and whenever American Ballet Theatre made its annual appearance in her hometown of Boston, she attended every one of its performances.
In 1985, Toby became involved in the dance scene of Miami and realized that the reason no professional ballet company had been able to sustain itself in South Florida was because it lacked a “luminary,” a credible star who could attract creative talent as well as the money to support it. About that time, a friend, introduced her to Edward Villella. Toby arranged a meeting at her house with Villella that lasted four hours. By the time he left that day, she had convinced him that Miami was about to launch a professional ballet company. That evening she called 6 friends. Each gave her a check for a thousand dollars. She added her own check for a thousand dollars and shortly afterwards, invited Villella, a former star of New York City Ballet to be Founding Artistic Director. Then she relentless went to work raising more funds and recruiting prominent and influential members of the community to share her vision and join the Board of Directors of the fledgling company. Toby’s dream of a professional ballet company soon became Miami’s dream. And about a year later Miami City Ballet gave its first performance. Years later, the company appeared at the Kennedy Center and Edward Villella wrote to her, “Our engagement was the culmination of the vision you had ten years ago, and I am so grateful it was me with whom you shared the dream.”
In 2010, in honor of her 70th birthday and MCB’s 25th anniversary, the Ansin Foundation established the Toby Lerner Ansin Scholarship fund. Each year, Toby sponsors a scholarship for a talented young dancer, which has helped numerous dancers become part of the company. Because of her vision, leadership, and unceasing efforts, Miami City Ballet today is an internationally acclaimed company with a growing reputation as a cradle of creativity for young dancers and choreographers. And Toby has received wide recognition for her accomplishments. Among the awards she has received are: the George Abbott Carbonell Award for Achievement in the Arts, the National Red Cross Spectrum Award for Women, the Florida Arts Recognition Award, the Arts Hero Award from the Arts & Business Council of Miami, the Florida International Press Club Imprint Award, the Woman of Style and Substance Award, and Dance/USA's Champion Award.
But the recognition she takes greatest pride in doesn’t even mention her name. In 2016, MCB received an invitation to dance in Lincoln Center for a week in April. The New York Times dance critic wrote three rave reviews about the company’s performance. Here’s a quote from his reviews, “…the dancing of Miami City Ballet flies straight to the heart…What can be done to bring this company here more often?”
Founding Artistic Director
Edward Villella was born in Bayside, New York in 1936. He entered the School of American Ballet at age ten but interrupted his dance training to complete academic studies. A graduate of the New York Maritime Academy, he obtained a B.S. in marine transportation, lettered in baseball, and was a championship boxer.
He returned to SAB following graduation in 1955, and in 1957 was invited to join the New York City Ballet, where he was quickly promoted to Soloist (1958), and then to Principal Dancer (1960). Mr. Villella was the original male lead in many important ballets in the New York City Ballet repertoire, among them Tarantella, the “Rubies” section of Jewels, Harlequinade, Symphony in Three Movements, Dances at a Gathering, Watermill, Bugaku and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Oberon). Perhaps his most famous role was in the 1960 revival of Balanchine’s 1929 masterpiece, Prodigal Son.
Mr. Villella was the first American male dancer to perform with the Royal Danish Ballet, and the only American ever to be asked to dance an encore at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. He danced for President Kennedy’s inauguration and for Presidents Johnson, Nixon and Ford. He was producer/director for the PBS series “Dance in America” for one and a-half years, and in 1975 won an Emmy Award for his CBS television production of “Harlequinade.”
In recognition of his achievements, President Clinton presented Mr. Villella with the 1997 National Medal of Arts. Also in 1997, he was named a Kennedy Center Honoree, and was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame. In 2009, he was elected to the prestigious American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
He currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the School of American Ballet. In 1998, the University of Pittsburgh Press reissued Villella’s 1992 autobiography, Prodigal Son: Dancing for Balanchine in a World of Pain and Magic, written with Larry Kaplan.
|Afternoon of a Faun||Debussy / Robbins|
|Agon||Stravinsky / Balanchine|
|Allegro Brillante||Tchaikovsky / Balanchine|
|A Midsummer Night's Dream||Mendelssohn / Balanchine|
|Apollo||Stravinsky / Balanchine|
|Arden Court||Boyce / Taylor|
|Aureole||Handel / Taylor|
|Aurora’s Wedding||Tchaikovsky / Petipa|
|Baker's Dozen||Smith / Tharp|
|Ballet Imperial||Tchaikovsky / Balanchine|
|Ballo della Regina||Verdi / Balanchine|
|Barber Violin Concerto||Barber / Martins|
|Black Swan Pas de Deux||Tchaikovsky / Petipa-Ivanov|
|Bournonville Italian Suite||Helsted-Paulli / Bournonville|
|Bourrée Fantasque||Chabrier / Balanchine|
|Bugaku||Mayuzumi / Balanchine|
|Calcium Light Night||Ives / Martins|
|Carmen||Shchedrin's "Carmen Suite" adapted from Bizet / Alston|
|Carousel Pas de Deux||Rodgers / MacMillan|
|Chutes and Ladders*||Britten / Peck|
|Company B||Various, sung by the Andrews Sisters / Taylor|
|The Concert||Chopin / Robbins|
|Concerto Barocco||Bach / Balanchine|
|Concerto for Summerdance *||Bach / Villella|
|Coppélia||Trad., after Delibes / Saint-Leon|
|Le Corsaire Pas de Deux||Drigo / Trad., after Petipa|
|Dances at a Gathering||Chopin / Robbins|
|Diamonds||Tchaikovsky / Balanchine|
|Diana and Actaeon - Pas de Deux||Drigo / Balanchine|
|Divertimento Brillante||Glinka / Balanchine|
|Divertimento No. 15||Mozart / Balanchine|
|Donizetti Variations||Donizetti / Balanchine|
|Don Quixote||Minkus / Traditional, after Petipa and Gorsky|
|Don Quixote Pas De Deux||Minkus / Petipa|
|Duo Concertante||Stravinsky / Balanchine|
|Elégie||Tchaikovsky / Balanchine|
|Emeralds||Fauré / Balanchine|
|Episodes||Webern / Balanchine|
|Euphotic*||Liebermann / Scarlett|
|The Fairy's Kiss*||Stravinsky / Ratmansky|
|Fancy Free||Bernstein / Robbins|
|Fanfare||Britten / Robbins|
|Festival Pas de Deux and Divertissement *||Harrell / Villella|
|Flower Festival Pas de Deux||Helsted / Bournonville|
|The Four Temperaments||Hindemith / Balanchine|
|THE FOX-TROT:Dancing in the Dark *
The Neighborhood Ballroom
|Carmichael, Parish, Ellington / Villella|
|Funny Papers||Novelty tunes / Taylor|
|George Balanchine's The Nutcracker&red;||Tchaikovsky / Balanchine|
|Giselle||Adam / Traditional after Coralli and Perrot|
|Gismonti Brasil *||Gismonti / Villella|
|Glass Pieces||Glasss / Robbins|
|Glinka Pas de Trois||Glinka / Balanchine|
|The Golden Section||Byrne / Tharp|
|Grand Pas Classique||Auber / Traditional, after Gsovsky|
|Heatscape*||Martinu / Peck|
|In the Night||Chopin / Robbins|
|In The Upper Room||Glass / Tharp|
|Jardí Tancat||del Mar Bonet / Duato|
|Jewels||Fauré-Stravinsky-Tchaikovsky / Balanchine|
|Lilac Garden||Chausson / Tudor|
|Liturgy||Pärt / Wheeldon|
|THE MAMBO: Mambo No. 2 a.m.*
The Neighborhood Ballroom
|Perez-Prado / Villella|
|Mercuric Tidings||Schubert / Taylor|
|Minkus Pas de Trois||Minkus / Balanchine|
|The Moor's Pavane||Purcell / Limon|
|NIGHTSPOT *||Costello / Tharp|
|Nine Sinatra Songs||Arlen, Mercer, Cahn, Van Heusen / Tharp|
|Paquita||Minkus / after Petipa & Mazilier|
|Pas De Dix||Glazounov / Balanchine, after Petipa|
|Les Patineurs||Meyerbeer, Lambert / Ashton|
|Piazzolla Caldera||Piazzolla / Taylor|
|Polyphonia||Ligeti / Wheeldon|
|Prodigal Son||Prokofiev / Balanchine|
|Promethean Fire||Bach / Taylor|
|Push Comes to Shove||Lamb, Haydn / Tharp|
|THE QUICK-STEP: Unspeakable Jazz Must Go! *
The Neighborhood Ballroom
|Ellington, Mack, Kahn, Yellen / Villella|
|Raymonda Variations||Glazounov / Balanchine|
|The Reassuring Effects of Form and Poetry||Dvorak / McIntyre|
|Romeo and Juliet||Prokofiev / Cranko|
|Rubies||Capriccio for Piano & Orchestra Stravinsky / Balanchine|
|Scotch Symphony||Mendelssohn / Balanchine|
|Serenade||Tchaikovsky / Balanchine|
|Slaughter on Tenth Avenue||Rodgers / Balanchine|
|Sonatine||Ravel / Balanchine|
|La Sonnambula||Rieti / Balanchine|
|La Source||Delibes / Balanchine|
|Square Dance||Vivaldi, Corelli / Balanchine|
|Stars & Stripes||Sousa-Kay / Balanchine|
|The Steadfast Tin Soldier||Bizet / Balanchine|
|Stravinsky Violin Concerto||Stravinsky / Balanchine|
|Sunset||Elgar / Taylor|
|Swan Lake Act II||Tchaikovsky / Balanchine|
|Swan Lake Act II||Tchaikovsky / Petipa|
|Sweet Fields||Billings, Walker, Wood, Ingalls / Tharp|
|Sylvia Pas de Deux||Delibes / Balanchine|
|Symphonic Dances *||Rachmaninoff / Ratmansky|
|Symphony in C||Bizet / Balanchine|
|Symphony in Three Movements||Stravinsky / Balanchine|
|Tarantella||Gottschalk / Balanchine|
|The Neighborhood Ballroom *||Renno, Ellington / Villella|
|Theme & Variations||Tchaikovsky / Balanchine|
|3 Epitaphs||Early American Jazz / Taylor|
|Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux||Tchaikovsky / Balanchine|
|La Valse||Ravel / Balanchine|
|Valse Fantaisie 1953||Glinka / Balanchine|
|Valse Fantaisie 1967||Glinka / Balanchine|
|Viscera *||Liebermann / Scarlett|
|Walpurgisnacht Ballet||Gounod / Balanchine|
|THE WALTZ: Our Lady of Oblivion *
The Neighborhood Ballroom
|Renno / Villella|
|West Side Story Suite||Bernstein, Sondheim / Robbins, Gennaro|
|Western Symphony||American Traditional, arr.: Kay / Balanchine|
|Who Cares?||complete Gershwin, arr. Kay / Balanchine|
|Year of the Rabbit||Stevens / Peck|
* World Premieres