Dick Button (Executive Advisor)
Richard T Button is a figure skater and a well-known, long-time skating television analyst. He is a two time Olympic Champion (1948, 1952), five-time World Champion (1948–1952), and seven time National Champion (1946-1952). He is also the only non-European man to have become European Champion.
Button is credited as having been the first skater to successfully land the double axel jump in competition in 1948, as well as the first triple jump of any kind – a triple loop – in 1952. He also invented the flying camel spin, which was originally known as the "Button Camel”.
He has an undergraduate degree from Harvard University along with a law degree from Harvard. He co-produced "Dick Button's Ice-Travaganza" for the 1964 New York World's Fair. He is the Founder of Candid Productions, where he created a variety of made-for-television sports events, including the "World Professional Figure Skating Championships", "Challenge of Champions", Dorothy Hamill specials for HBO, and other non-skating sporting events like Superstars. "Super Teams", "Junior Superstars", "Women's Superstars", and the popular "Battle of the Network Stars".
As an actor, Button has performed in movie roles such as "The Young Doctors" starring Fredric March, and "The Bad News Bears Go to Japan" starring Tony Curtis. He also appeared in television roles, including The Hallmark Hall of Fame's "Hans Brinker" co-starring Tab Hunter, "Dancing is a Man's Game", dancing alongside star Gene Kelly and famed New York City Ballet star Edward Villella, as well as "Mr. Broadway" starring Mickey Rooney.
Button provided commentary for CBS's broadcast of the 1960 Winter Olympics, launching a decades-long career in television broadcast journalism. Button again did commentary for CBS's broadcast of the 1961 United States Figure Skating Championships. Then, beginning in 1962, he worked as a figure skating analyst for ABC Sports, which had acquired the rights to the U.S. Championships as well as the 1962 World Figure Skating Championships. During ABC's coverage of figure skating events in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, Button became the sport's best-known analyst, well known for his frank and often caustic appraisal of skaters' performances. He won an Emmy Award in 1981 for Outstanding Sports Personality – Analyst. During the 2006 Winter Olympics, USA Network ran a show called Olympic Ice. A recurring segment, called "Push Dick's Button," invited viewers to send in questions, which Button answered on the air. He has just written a book by the same title.
Button was inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1976, the same year it was founded.
He is also an avid gardener where he frequently is giving garden lectures.
1. First skater to land a double axel.
2. First skater to land a triple jump (a triple loop)
3. First male skater to perform the camel spin and inventor of the flying camel spin (also known as the Button Camel, after him)
4. Only American to win the European title.
5. First American World Champion.
6. First American to win the Olympic title in figure skating.
7. First and only American back-to-back Olympic champion in figure skating.
8. First and only male skater to simultaneously hold all the following titles: National, North American, European, Worlds, and Olympics.
9. Youngest man to win the Olympic title in figure skating (age 18).
Edward Villella (Executive Advisor)
Edward Villella is a danseur and choreographer, frequently cited as America's most celebrated male dancer of ballet of his time. Edward Villella is renowned worldwide for his dramatic transformation of the male image in ballet.
Villella became a member of the New York City Ballet in 1957, rising to soloist in 1958 and principal dancer in 1960. Villella was the first American male dancer to appear with the Royal Danish Ballet, and the only American ever asked to dance an encore at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. He danced at the inaugural for President John F. Kennedy, and performed for Presidents Johnson, Nixon, and Ford. He won an Emmy Award in 1975 for his CBS television production of Harlequinade. He founded the Miami City Ballet in 1985 and served as its director until 2012.
In 1997, Villella was named a Kennedy Center Honors recipient, and was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Bill Clinton. He was also named the Dorothy F. Schmidt artist-in-residence at Florida Atlantic University in 2000. Villella was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 2007. He was inducted into the National Museum of Dance's Mr. & Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame in 2009. In 2013 he received The National Society of Arts & Letters Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Linda Carbonetto Villella (Founder and Board of Directors)
Linda Villella was the founder and executive director of the Miami City Ballet School. She started with thirty of her daughter’s friends and grew it to an internationally acclaimed ballet school of four hundred students from Canada, Europe, South America and Asia. The summer intensive program was considered to be one of the top summer programs in the country and many students went on to dance professionally around the world.
Linda’s background was not in dance. She was the Canadian National Figure Skating Champion, the bronze medalist at the North American Championships, a member of the World and Olympic figure skating teams in Canada, the star of Ice Capades and feature performer for television shows and commercials. She met her husband while helping him choreograph a television special for Olympic Champion Dorothy Hamill.
Translating her ice background into a dance school was similar but challenging. Her responsibilities included hiring all faculty and staff, developing all programming and schedules for winter and summer programs, coordinating up to one hundred students with Nutcracker performances in three counties, coordinating Miami City Ballet School’s summer intensive with housing, food, busing, activities, chaperones, and health care, providing outreach programs and performances for schools, setting up programs for children with financial need, and supervising the Student Showcase and Jazz Showcase each year.
Linda was also successful as a fundraiser working with long range planning, organizational development, project planning and implementation. She was also highly successful in her efforts to seek funding from foundations, corporations and individual donors.
Linda received the Laudare Award from Barry University for her work with children and is the recipient of the Cultural Award from the Red Cross Spectrum Awards for Women. She now lives in New York with her husband Edward Villella, former Principal Dancer of the New York City Ballet. She has three children Rodney, Lauren and Crista.
Debbie Gordon (Founder, Executive Director: Acting Chair of the Board)
Debbie Gordon's interests are diverse- a wife, mother, businesswoman and ardent devotee of figure skating – ensemble skating in particular. Her passion for skating emerged at an early age but it wasn’t until her mid 20’s when she started to skate regularly. Debbie has been a supporter of artistic skating since the 1980’s, having served as a board member of the Ice Theatre of New York from 1983-2000 and then again in 2011 when she chaired the 25th anniversary gala. Over the many years with Ice Theatre, Debbie chaired 4 of their galas, honoring Dick Button, Vera Wang, Dorothy Hamill and Tenley Albright. In 2012 she was honored as Ice Theatre’s “Ice Angel” for her many years of support and devotion to artistic skating. From 2002-2012 Debbie served on the board of The Next Ice Age in Baltimore, Maryland, another not for profit ice dance company. Outside of skating Debbie was on the board of directors at Trump Palace Condominium from 2003-2012, where she still currently resides. She has served on the Accessions Committee at the Baltimore Museum of Art from 2005-2007 and on various committees for Ballet Hispanico in NYC from 1998-2011.
Douglas Webster (Artistic Director)
Douglas Webster was born in Washington DC and grew up in North Conway, New Hampshire. He is a graduate of The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA.
For the last 3 years he served as Artistic Director of Ice Theatre of New York. Over the past 20 years, Douglas created a large body of repertory works for Ice Theatre of New York that includes Roots, Unforgettable, Departures, Dare Greatly, Transitions, and Appalachia Waltz (in collaboration with modern dance choreographer Joanna Mendl Shaw). Douglas has also set many works for the ice by notable dance choreographers; most recently, “Reveries” and “Three Smokers” with Edward Villella, as well as—Charles (Chucky) Klapow, Donlin Forman, Elisa Monte, David Dorfman, David Parsons, Lar Lubovitch, Ann Carlson, and Jacqulyn Buglisi.
In addition to his work with Ice Theatre, Douglas has worked with all the major skating companies in the world, including Disney on Ice (10 shows, including High School Musical); Holiday on Ice (3 shows); Stars On Ice (2); and The Sun Valley Ice Show (3). He has also choreographed many television shows, including ITNY’s participation in Winter Solstice on Ice; Skating with the Stars for ABC TV; and Sterren Dansen op Het IJs in The Netherlands. He helped create, choreograph, and direct many park shows, including Ice Theatre’s Dollywood Christmas on Ice production for the Dollywood Theme Park in Tennessee; and 8 shows for the Autostadt Park in Germany, including “The Wizard of Oz!” Along with his work on major productions and industrial events, Douglas has worked with many celebrity skaters, including most recently National Champion Ryan Bradley, Olympic Champion Sarah Hughes and Olympic Silver Medalist Sasha Cohen.
Douglas serves on the board of the Young Artists Showcase and is on the staff of “Grassroots to Champions.” Douglas also served as the Artistic Director for the Salt Lake City Sports Complex from 2001-2003 when it was built for the Olympics and he is currently the founding artistic director of the Labrie Family Skate at Puddle Dock Pond, Strawbery Banke, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Over the last 3 years he successfully conducted residencies for Ice Theatre of New York from 2011-2014 in Sun Valley, Idaho at the Sun Valley Skating Center. Edward Villella and Douglas Webster served as co-creative directors for the tv show “Shall We Dance on Ice." Douglas was coached by Audrey Weisiger.