He will be only the third jury chairman in the history of the quadrennial competition established in 1979 and which next convenes in June of 2014. The first chairman was Robert Joffrey, and the second was Bruce Marks.
Villella told the Clarion-Ledger newspaper that in the past he had hired dancers right off the stage during the competition. In addition to serving as the jury chairman, he will teach classes and engage the public on behalf of the USA IBC.
The international competition is open to dancers from 15 to 18 years old and 19 to 26 years old. In 2010, competitors and audience members from around the world pumped about $10.2 million into the Jackson and surrounding area economies, according to a University of Mississippi study.