Lola de Avila
Lola de Avila was trained in Zaragoza, Spain by her mother Maria de Avila, and went on to study in Cannes; Cologne, Germany; and Paris, with teachers such as Anton Dolin, Nora Kiss, Leon Woizkowski, Victor Gsovsky, and Rosella Hightower. At the early age of 15, she made her soloist debut in the Claude Giraud Ballet, and throughout her career, performed a wide variety of repertory, including Corrida, La Sylphide, Swan Lake, Giselle, Raymonda, Sleeping Beauty, and Lifar’s Suite en Blanc, with partners that included Rudolf Nureyev and Erik Bruhn. As a dancer, de Avila performed with a number of companies such as the Royal Chamber Ballet of Spain, Ballet of Madrid, and Teatro de la Zarzuela.
In 1978, de Avila was named director of the School of Victor Ullate in Brussels. In 1979, she was appointed ballet mistress at the National Ballet of Spain (part of the Ministry of Culture), and in 1983, de Avila was named both assistant to the artistic director and head of the school. While working at the National Ballet of Spain, de Avila helped form the Ballet of Zaragoza. In 1989, serving as director, de Avila opened the Maria de Avila Ballet School in Madrid, where she created a youth ballet.
In 1990, de Avila first taught at San Francisco Ballet School for two weeks as part of The E.L. Wiegand Master Guest Teacher Program. The following year, she returned for a full-semester residency, again sponsored by the E.L. Wiegand Foundation. In fall 1992, de Avila accepted Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson’s invitation to serve as associate director for the San Francisco Ballet School, a position she held until September 1999.
After returning to Europe, de Avila became director of the Maria de Avila Ballet School in Zaragoza. During this period, she continued to collaborate with San Francisco Ballet, coaching Company members in various works, including Paquita for San Francisco Ballet’s 1991 Opening Night Gala, Tomasson’s Giselle and Swan Lake, as well as Tomasson/Possokhov’s Don Quixote. At the same time, she worked with other companies including Boston Ballet and Houston Ballet. From 2000 to 2002, she was resident ballet mistress at Ballet de Genève. In 2004, she restored Les Sylphides for Maggio Fiorentino and in January 2005, the company premiered her production of Giselle at the Teatro Comunale di Firenze. In summer 2006, following the departure of former Associate Director Gloria Govrin, de Avila returned to serve as associate director of the San Francisco Ballet School.
Most recently, de Avila was awarded the 2010 Gold Medal for Merit in the Fine Arts—one of the highest distinctions in the arts given by the King of Spain and the Minister of Culture. Presented each year, the award honors individuals and organizations that have excelled in artistic creation, cultural promotion, and the conservation of artistic heritage. Previous recipients include singer/songwriter Julio Iglesias and choreographer Nacho Duato.
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