Lola de Avila



Lola de Avila was trained in Zaragoza, Spain by her mother Maria de Avila, and went on to study in Cannes; Cologne, Germany; and Paris. At the early age of 15, she made her soloist debut in the Claude Giraud Ballet, and throughout her career, performed a wide variety of repertory, including Corrida, La Sylphide, Swan Lake, Giselle, Raymonda, Sleeping Beauty, and Lifar’s Suite en Blanc. As a dancer, de Avila performed with many companies such as the Royal Chamber Ballet of Spain, Ballet of Madrid, and Teatro de la Zarzuela.  


In 1978, de Avila was named director of the School of Victor Ullate in Brussels. In 1979, she was appointed ballet mistress at the National Ballet of Spain, and in 1983, she was named both assistant to the artistic director and head of the school. While working at the National Ballet of Spain, de Avila helped form the Ballet of Zaragoza. In 1989, serving as director, she opened the Maria de Avila Ballet School in Madrid, where she created a youth ballet.


In 1990, de Avila first taught at San Francisco Ballet (SFB) School for two weeks as part of The E.L. Wiegand Master Guest Teacher Program. The following year, she returned for a full-semester residency and in fall 1992 and accepted Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson’s invitation to serve as associate director for the SFB School, a position she held until September 1999. After returning to Europe, she became director of the Maria de Avila Ballet School in Zaragoza. From 2000 to 2002, she was resident ballet mistress at Ballet de Genève. In summer 2006, de Avila returned to serve as associate director of the SFB School. 


In 2010, de Avila was awarded the 2010 Gold Medal for Merit in the Fine Arts—one of the highest distinctions in the arts given by the King of Spain and the Minister of Culture. In 2011, de Avila returned to live permanently in Spain and still serves as a guest teacher and répétiteur with SFB. On May 31, 2012, the Mayor of San Francisco declared that date “Lola de Avila Day.”