VAIL - More than 80 children from the Vail Valley Foundation Youth Foundation's Celebrate the Beat program will take the stage of the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater Friday evening, as the Avon Elementary School students rock the house as the opening act of the Vail International Dance Festival's International Evenings of Dance.
The students will perform a special version of classics such as "I Got Rhythm" in honor of the 100th anniversary of legendary dancer Gene Kelly's birth. The group will be accompanied by Memphis jookin' star Ron Myles and musician Brian Marsella.
The Colorado branch of the Celebrate the Beat initiative was founded by Artistic Director Tracy Straus, using the award-winning teaching method developed by Jacques d'Amboise for the National Dance Institute. The program was introduced to the Vail Valley in 2007 by Damian Woetzel in his first year as artistic director of the Vail International Dance Festival, at the suggestion of Woetzel's wife, ballerina Heather Watts.
The annual week-long workshop for young children - or "POP HOP camp" as its called - occurs as an integral component of the overall dance festival schedule of events. During the school year, Celebrate the Beat currently provides 1,000 elementary school students throughout Eagle County the chance to dance as part of the school curriculum.
The 2012 Vail International Dance Festival kicked off on Sunday evening and runs through Aug. 11, with 10 performances at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail and the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek. In addition, numerous free community events will dot the two-week Festival schedule. Visit www.vaildance.org.