Willy Shives has established himself as an outstanding American-born dancer, recognized on stage
for his virtuoso style and his charismatic charm. Willy joined the Joffrey Ballet in 1999 at the invitation of
Founder and Artistic Director, Gerald Arpino. Currently Willy is overseeing numerous artistic projects for the
Joffrey as part of a recent promotion and transition to ballet master. In 2007, he was named a repetiteur for the
Antony Tudor Trust, and now joins an esteemed group of experts whose chief responsibility is to restage and oversee
the works from the Tudor repertoire.
Willy was named "Chicagoan of the Year" by the Chicago Tribune in 2003, and in the same year, he was
recognized for his outstanding artistry by the Chicago Dance and Music Alliance. He is the 2005 Legacy Award recipient,
an annual award celebrating and honoring the accomplishments of individuals for excellence in lifetime contribution,
artistic achievement, and outstanding service in the Texas dance community.
Hailed by New York Times dance critic Anna Kisselgoff as an "astounding dancer," Willy
has performed leading roles in some of the world's most renowned theaters. His professional engagements include
principal contracts with Eglevsky Ballet, Minnesota Dance Theatre, Milwaukee Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre,
Tulsa Ballet Theatre and Ballet Austin. His repertoire includes a vast list of 19th-century classics, as well as
works by such contemporary masters as Gerald Arpino, George Balanchine, Lew Christensen, John Cranko, Agnes de
Mille, Lisa de Ribere, Choo-San Goh, Martha Graham, Loyce Houlton, Jiri Kylian, Robert Joffrey, Eugene Loring,
Kenneth MacMillan, Ohad Naharian, Ruth Page, Ben Stevenson, Lynne Taylor-Corbett, and Antony Tudor.
Willy treasures his experience in working closely with Artistic Director Emeritus, Gerald Arpino. Arpino's ultimate
creation "Ruth Ricordi per Due" left an lasting impression when it was created for Willy and his ballerina
partner Maia Wilkins. It was hailed a mini-masterpiece at its 2004 Chicago debut. Other memorable highlights include
his performances in the title role "Petrouchka" (originated by the legendary Vaslav Nijinsky in 1911).
His portrayal as the faune in L'Après-Midi d'un Fauné (Afternoon of a Faun) was received with great
critical acclaim at the 2004 Diaghilev Festival in Amsterdam.
Willy was raised in the Rio Grande Valley (Edinburg), Texas. One of five brothers, he inadvertently discovered
dance while delivering newspapers. Soon he was mopping studio floors and washing windows after school in exchange
for dance lessons. Willy studied with his mentor the late Nikita Talin, a Dallas dance maverick, who danced with
the famous Ballet Russes before coming to Southern Methodist University's (SMU) dance department. At nine years
old, Shives was awarded the prestigious Ford Foundation scholarship, allowing him to study with George Balanchine
at the School of American Ballet. He was also awarded a full scholarship at the Harkness Ballet School in New York
In his personal life, Willy is married to Evie Pena-Shives, a dancer who also enjoys a career as an elementary
school teacher. The Shives' have two beautiful daughters, Cecily (13 years-old) and Ally (10 years-old).