Miss E. Virginia Williams, Founder Boston Ballet

Miss E. Virginia Williams, Founder Boston Ballet
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Email Address cecily@bostonballet.net

Miss E. Virginia Williams, Founder Boston Ballet

Here's an excerpt from Cecily's Blog Thursday September 3rd, 2009 on her Arizona Ballet Theatre website: ...I am going to post a quote from one of my most influential ballet teachers, the founder of the Boston Ballet - E. Virginia Williams (1914 - 1984)

"Dance should speak in vivid images with strength and at the same time with beauty. You have to leave your imprint in the air and let the dance go on. As founder of the Boston Ballet, I have watched our organization grow from a small company to one of outstanding national and international status. It is good for the soul to take a chance, even if you fall trying. My dreams and aspirations for the Boston Ballet have been realized."

This quote was on a program book for sale in the Lobby circa 1986 after Miss Williams had passed away. The Company was in the capable hands of Bruce Marks at that pointe in time almost a quarter century ago.

I have often said, and thought, that after my mother, Shelley, Miss Williams was by far the most influential woman in my life. I have calculated that I spent several thousand hours in hundreds of classes with her, and later on, in rehearsals for performances of the Company. She was an amazing ballet teacher who gave a power-packed class although, at the time, I really didn't "get" that. She trained many outstanding dancers in her own schools, and even more remarkable than that (which is pretty darn remarkable), she followed her dreams and let nothing stop her on the quest to bring great ballet to a new audience.

To be honest, Miss Williams didn't talk in class in any way resembling this quote (of course). When I was with her, she was busy giving corrections just like those you hear from me- "shoulders down, pointe your feet, no sickling, go through the metatarsal" and my personal favorite, "Don't think, just do it!"


Here is a Mini-bio from The Dictionary of Dance Williams, Ellen Virginia (known as E. Virginia Williams; Salem, Mass., 12 March 1914, died Boston, 8 May 1984).

US teacher, choreographer, and director who played a pioneering role in the development of American ballet. She studied with M. Winslow (of Denishawn) and Balanchine, among others, becoming a professional dancer with San Carlo Opera.

She began teaching at the age of 16 and established numerous schools including the E. Virginia Williams School of Ballet in Boston (1940).

In 1958 she was founder and artistic director of New England Civic Ballet from which developed the into The Boston Ballet in 1964.

As director of the company (until 1980) she brought in many guest stars, including Fonteyn, Nureyev, and Makarova, and pursued the often-controversial policy of commissioning work from modern dance choreographers.

E. Virginia Williams was co-director of the company with Violette Verdy (1980-3) and then artistic adviser (1983-4).

She was also adviser to the Lyric Opera of Chicago (1971-3).

She choreographed several works for Joffrey, Boston Ballet, and Pennsylvania Ballet, among others.