Flip on the television nearly any night of the week and it's clear that America digs dance, just as they are enraptured --if the ratings are any indication - with singing and cooking competitions. It's hard to keep up with the influx of dance-themed shows (did you know about one called "Bunheads"? Me either.)
As such, last year the Vail International Dance Festival added Dance TV to the bill, bringing stars in from popular dance television shows to do a live version for festival audiences. As a fan of "So You Think You Can Dance," "Dancing with the Stars" and "America's Best Dance Crew," Avon resident Ariadyn Hansen didn't think twice about buying tickets to the show, and brought her family with her.
"It was packed," she said. "We were on the lawn and we had a hard time finding a seat. Everyone was so into it. There were standing ovations after every performance. It surpassed my expectations, I was very impressed Vail could put on such a great show from big shows like that - it was awesome."
Hansen will be in the audience Saturday night with friends when dancers take the stage for what is the final performance of the 2012 Vail International Dance Festival.
"The word around town is you have to go to Dance TV," she said. "It's the best night. I think that's why they save it for last."
New York City Ballet stars Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild return to the program this year. They'll perform two pieces together, including a world premiere, titled "Get On The Road," which was choreographed by Dee Caspary, a "So You Think You Can Dance" choreographer who coincidentally was Peck's first dance teacher.
"We learned it in L.A. about a month and a half ago/two months ago," Fairchild said. "We're really excited to do it. The music is kind of like what you see on ("So You Think You Can Dance"); it's like something you would hear on the radio, indie folk rather than pop.
Fairchild likens the dance to a computer's idle mode screensaver, the one where connected lines just keep morphing into something new.
"Like the form that just keeps changing. (The dance) has that intertwined feel to it. It's always connected in some way," he said.
The two, who have known each other since Fairchild was 13 years old and Peck was 11, are dating.
While Damian Woetzel, the festival's artistic director, said he didn't pair them together necessarily because they're a couple, he didn't discount the notion that their chemistry adds to the overall effect.
"They look great together and they dance beautifully together," he said. "So much so that I wanted to have a specific piece created for this program."
The couple will also dance George Balanchine's "Stars and Stripes Pas de Deux."
"It's such a fun thing to dance," Fairchild said. "And so perfect for the Olympics."
From classic to contemporary
Two dance crews, Poreotics and Funkdation, both who've performed on MTV's "America's Best Dance Crew," will take the stage Saturday. Also on the bill are three dancers from the hit show, "So You Think You Can Dance," including Alex Wong, who attended Dance TV last year but was unable to perform because of an injury and instead co-hosted the show; returning dancer Allison Holker who will perform a duet with Wong, as well as a piece with Stephen "tWitch" Boss, who she's been dating since season 7 of the show, she said. Holker and tWitch will perform a new original number they choreographed to "For You I Will," by DREHZ tonight.
"We enjoy dancing together because we carry very different dynamics in our movement," Holker said. "He is very hard hitting, tighter and aggressive, (while) ... I try to move longer, covering as much space as possible, 'lingering in time.' He pushes me to be better. I love dancing with him; it also helps with chemistry because we understand each others natural body movement, so we can gauge one and others next step."
This marks the third time Wong will attend the Vail International Dance Festival. He debuted here with the Miami City Ballet in 2009. He left the company in 2010 to be a freelance dancer and since has really branched out from the classic ballet he did with the company for five years. He finished the Broadway musical "Newsies" a week ago and has a few projects on the horizon he can't discuss in detail. Wong calls the piece he'll perform tonight with Holker a "contemporary lyrical piece about salvation." He'll also perform a hip hop duet with tWitch and a solo piece he describes as "contemporary ballet fusion."
"It's a piece called 'Butterfly 747,' choreographed by Rachael Poirier," Wong said of the solo piece. "It's a fusion of contemporary ballet, which is definitely my style. The song is by Moloko. There aren't any lyrics, it's just a very upbeat tempo song."