As a dancer, he earned early praise from critics. In 2002, a New York Times critic wrote of his appearance in Fancy Free: "It was uplift from the start, with acute timing and byplay among the sailors. Mr. Corella barely touched the floor when he pranced, and then gave an extra dimension to the first solo."
Less flattering was a review when Barcelona Ballet visited City Center with a program by various choreographers in 2012. Wrote a Times critic: "Mr. Corella, in dropping his name from the company title, would rather ride the energy of a city and let the dancing do the talking. At the moment, his company needs more to say."
David Gray, interim executive director of Pennsylvania Ballet, said that in Philadelphia, where Corella was expected to live, he would be more of a curator than a choreographer.
"I think he has a really great vision for this company being one of the most important companies in the country, and has some very intriguing experience with choreographers seldom seen on this side of the Atlantic, whom he would like to bring over and have their works seen," said Gray. "But then, he has experience as a dancer. We have this Balanchine tradition, and I think he loves and admires those works, but also understands the value of new choreography. He is not looking to change the company in ways in which it becomes unrecognizable, nor is he looking for it to become a museum."
According to the Pennsylvania Ballet, the search, assisted by arts consultant and outgoing Kennedy Center president Michael Kaiser, reviewed 30 candidates for the job, holding in-depth interviews with seven.
Gray, who declined to reveal Corella's salary, said the ballet's contract with him would run three years.