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Dancing to a diverse drummer

KIMBERLY NICOLETTI

VAIL – Arts enthusiasts in Vail have grown to expect the most precise and cutting-edge choreography from the Vail International Dance Festival throughout its 16 years, and it has delivered at every turn.This year, the 10-day festival presents world premieres, classic pieces and contemporary masterpieces by world-renowned dancers.The dance extravaganza began Friday night with the International Evenings of Dance.Saturday’s show lived up to the festival’s reputation of presenting surprising, diverse, highly professional artistry.With a backdrop of flowers and evergreens at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Shoko Nakamura opened the evening with precision and grace.Though she danced to a waltz by Johann Straus, she and her partner, Jurgen Wagner, proved dance doesn’t always take itself seriously; the man doesn’t always have to be at hand to lift and turn the female – instead, he can trip her.Likewise, Eric Gauthier threw a few pelvic thrusts into his otherwise straightforward – though exciting – choreography to selected piano preludes by Dimitri Shostakovich. Later, his characterization of a French man living and loving life stirred the audience.Just when the music sounded like it might remain classical, a shirtless, muscular Ethan Stiefel interpreted George Hamilton’s Eastern tune with his partner, Gillian Murphy. Stiefel’s strength overpowered the number – and that’s not the first time he has made an impact. He joined the New York City Ballet at age 16 and now dances with the American Ballet Theatre. He starred in Columbia Picture’s “Center Stage” and has appeared as a guest with major dance companies throughout the world.Dance champion Victor da Silva continued the modern music trend with his partner Natalie Woolf as they added their powerful athletics to music from the “Gladiator” soundtrack. Their inverted lifts and spins looked more like pair figure skaters or an act one might see in Cirque du Soleil. The pair studied in Johannesburg, South Africa, and da Silva has won most of the major dance competitions in this millennium.The evening also included traditional ballet by artists from The Royal Ballet performing choreography from “Swan Lake” and international guest artists Ilja Louwen and Leo Mujic portraying the fluidity of motion in an almost eerie, rubbery manner.The next leapThe festival continues through Sunday with a world premiere by Trey McIntyre of the Cincinnati Ballet, the Victor Ullate Ballet, Different Dimensions and Les Ballets Africains.McIntyre choreographed “Chasing Squirrel” especially for the festival. The intense, athletic and amusingly dramatic exploration of Latin culture and relationships accompanies the passionate music of the Kronos Quartet.The renowned Victor Ullate Ballet makes an encore performance with a sensual mixture of classical ballet and Spanish culture.Different Dimensions is a festival within the festival. Four companies deliver signature pieces. Ballet Internationale honors Maruis Petipa, who is known as the father of the three-act classical ballet. Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet pushes the boundaries of dance with a nostalgic interpretation of Etta James’ most popular songs. Buglisi/Foreman Dance defines Donlin Foreman’s “Mean Ole’ World.” The show concludes with the great Russian ballerina Ida Nevasayneva.Les Ballets Africains closes the festival with pulsating rhythms, tribal instruments and sheer energy.Tickets range from $17-75 for adults. For more information, call (970) 845-8497 or visit http://www.vvf.org/dance.cfm.Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or at knicoletti@summitdaily.com.


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