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Many dancers addressed the board in confusion after Villella’s retirement announcement. “It was news that came sort of out of the blue to us, and it seemed to us not happy news. We were trying to get some answers,” said principal dancer Jennifer Kronenberg.

Miami City Ballet has brought in Michael Kaiser, president of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as a consultant to help financially restructure the company. Kaiser performed similar tasks for the American Ballet Theater and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in the 1990s, though he says the Miami troupe is in better shape than those companies at that time.

Lopez, who also danced at New York City Ballet, has been the director at New York dance company Morphoses. She arrived in Miami last week to take over the company’s ballet school, which had been run by Villella’s wife.

Lopez, 53, attended classes and rehearsals Tuesday with the company’s professional dancers, Santiago said.

In an email Tuesday to the ballet’s staff and roughly 40 dancers, Villella said he was confident the company would continue to flourish.

He also wrote that he was especially pleased with the rave reviews they earned in New York and Paris. Villella has said their triumph in Paris was as dear to him as the standing ovations he received from an audience in Moscow during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Miami never was an ideal place to build a dance company, Villella had recently told AP, in spite of its growing population and fundraising potential. He noted the company has always run a deficit.

South Florida also lacks the cultural heritage of major arts destinations such as New York, he said, along with major donors who prioritize arts funding.

“My estimation when I came here was that I was bringing New York to Miami, but Miami has its own manner and fashion, and therein lies a complication,” Villella said.