Mary Melo and Isabella Demyan receive the 2020 Edward Villella Fellowship

Miryam Moutillet, Faculty Contributor

Isabella Demyan ’21 and Mary Melo ’22  from the Union College Dance Program received the Edward Villella Fellowship  2020. 

This fellowship was created from the gifts of Charles D. Lothridge ’44 to honor Edward Villella, an internationally acclaimed premier dancer with the New York City Ballet and founder of the Miami City Ballet in 1985. 

Originally, the Dance Program was supposed to announce the award winners at the Steinmetz Dance Performance, as is tradition. However, due to the COVID-19 crisis, the annual performance on campus was cancelled this year. The show will now be available online in a collection of dance films contributed by each participating dancer.  It remains the Dance program’s hope to have the opportunity to present the fellows at one of  their public presentations in the fall. 

The grant is supposed to be used to expand the study of dance beyond the Union College experience and the newest laureates both intend to pursue aerial dance using the Edward Villella Fellowship. 

Demyan intends to lean into discomfort and embrace the beauties of aerial artistry. Demyan has mentioned that “Right from the start of my first year at Union, I knew I wanted to one day perform Aerial Silks. As I watched the dancers before me command the stage with their amazing skill, I didn’t just notice their cool tricks, but the level of confidence that they had while performing. There is no doubt that Aerial Silks would be out of my comfort zone, but as daunting as the task is, there are few things that I have wanted more as a dancer than to perform silks” 

Melo is also moving towards an education in aerial silks and lyra. “After experiencing two years as a member of the Union College Dance Program, I have been amazed by the incredible opportunities offered to students. With the Villella grant, I would be able to take lessons, learning the Lyra and Silks, which will allow me to harness skills in a more circus, oriented art. I believe this style would utilize my former ballet training which would provide a solid base for this pursuit,” she said.