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Vail International Dance Festival stands up to a tough crowd

Kimberly Nicoletti

VAIL – Arts enthusiasts in Vail have grown to expect the highest quality, most cutting-edge contemporary choreography and precision classical dance from the Vail International Dance Festival throughout its 14 years, and it has delivered at every turn.

This year, the 10-day festival presents some of the world’s most outstanding dancers, including artists from the New York City Ballet, the Paris Opera Ballet, the National Ballet of Canada, “Riverdance” and Dance Cuba!

“What’s really unique about it is we search out some of the best dancers in the world and bring them to Vail,” Vail Valley Foundation marketing director Mia Vlaar said. “The second element that is unique is that the performances are specially made for Vail. We put together ensembles of dancers from a particular company and really try to bring the highest level of the performance to Vail. The productions are one-of-a-kind.”

International Evenings of Dance

The festival begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday with the Paul Mitchell International Evenings of Dance, an eclectic mix of the premiere ballet couples and individual principal dancers throughout the world, including Italy, Australia, Russia, North America and England. The performance takes place at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater at the Vilar Pavilion in Vail.

“It’s a very neat environment because the dancers are like horses at the gate. They’re primed,” Vlaar said. “It’s that wonderful kind of spirit that develops amongst themselves. It makes for a wonderful, electric atmosphere.”

This year, the collection will be more eclectic, in response to the audience’s desire for both cutting-edge, contemporary interpretations such as ballroom dance and Irish stepdancing, as well as classical ballet.

Choreographers collection

For the past three years, the festival has showcased young, rising American choreographers. This year, principal dancer of the New York City Ballet Damian Woetzel will choreograph and perform in “Snap,” a sassy, jazzy piece based on Broadway tunes, and “Shostakovich’s Suites,” based upon the composer’s piano preludes.

“He works more in a classical or neo-classical genre,” Vlaar said. “He has been taking steps to incorporate contemporary moves into that classical, neo-classical form.”

The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at the Vilar Center for the Arts in Beaver Creek.

“From Paris With Love’

For nearly a decade, audiences have longed for artists from The Paris Opera Ballet to return to Vail after dancers Agnes Letestu and Jose Martinez performed at the festival in 1993. Established in the 17th century by Louis IV, it is the oldest company in the world.

“The Paris Opera Ballet is considered to be the premiere ballet company,” Vlaar said. “The ensemble is made up of dancers hand-chosen by Agnes and Jose.”

Both dancers achieved the highest of eight ranks within the Paris Opera Ballet, hence their title “etoile,” meaning star.

Though the performance will feature contemporary pieces, it will tend more toward classical ballet, Vlaar said.

A special preview evening will include Dance Cuba! at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 8 at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail. The entire performance of “From Paris With Love” will take place at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 9 at the amphitheater.

Dance Cuba!

Artistic director Lizt Alfonso combines flamenco form and Afro-Cuban rhythms with the elegance of 19th-century, classical dance in Dance Cuba!. Live Cuban musicians accompany 32 female dancers, weaving a variety of passions and emotions with Spanish and Cuban folkloric dance traditions.

“It’s a very young, very youthful, very exciting, energetic performance,” Vlaar said.

Dance Cuba! performs at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 10. A special preview evening with selections from Dance Cuba! and “From Paris with Love” will be at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 8 at the Gerald Ford Amphitheater.

Event: Vail International Dance Festival

When: August 2-11

Where: Vilar Center for the Arts, Beaver Creek and the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail


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