When Doria Avila returned to South Texas in 1970, he left a promising career in dance that had found him working on Broadway, at Paris's famed Moulin Rouge, and in Hollywood films. But his father in Donna, Texas needed his help because of illness, and Doria came to be at his side.
You can't keep a born showman down, however, and Avila was quick to establish a small dance school and, in 1972, founded Rio Grande Valley Ballet. It was the start of a great tradition!
Deborah Case moved to The Valley in 1976 after graduating from Texas Christian University (TCU) in Ft. Worth with a major in education and a Texas Teaching Certificate. A dancer since her earliest years, she had also earned a minor in dance, specializing in ballet, and looked for a way to continue her training. She soon met Doria Avila, and became a part of the RGV Ballet company.
Deborah was a principal dancer in many Rio Grande Valley Ballet productions, including La Bayadere, Gaite Parisienne, and, of course The Nutcracker. She also served as the troupe's director of public relations, and taught classes at the Doria Avila Dance Academy. When Avila wished to retire in 1993, Deborah took on the challenge of her own dance academy and became Artistic Director of RGV Ballet.
"I could tell you so many stories about Doria!," smiles Deborah Case. "He worked very hard to bring dance to South Texas, but he knew how to relax and enjoy his life more than many people today."
"Every year, at least, Doria would go to New York and see as many Broadway shows as he could fit into his schedule. Between shows, he'd explore all the production houses there, buying costumes and props for RGV Ballet. One year he got carried away and had an authentic Chinese rickashaw shipped down for The Nutcracker! A few years ago we found and restored it, and it's a fun part of our tradition even now."
"We remember Doria every year, but on this, our 40th Anniversary - well, it just proves his vision of beautiful dance in The Valley is still alive!"