- Associated Press - Friday, September 23, 2011

MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (AP) - The artistic director who founded the Miami City Ballet and built it into an internationally recognized company is retiring after the next season.

Former New York City Ballet star Edward Villella founded the Miami Beach-based dance company in 1986.

It has grown from a small group with a limited repertory to a 45-member company that commissions new works from leading choreographers and earned standing ovations during a tour in Paris in July.

Villella will step down after the 2012-2013 season. The ballet’s current season runs from Oct. 21 through April 2012.

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