VAIL — Friday night’s Ballroom Spectacular program is packed. Five couples will perform 25 pieces over the course of the evening. And all the types of ballroom will be represented: Tango, waltz, swing, cha cha, samba, waltz, mambo, foxtrot, rumba, cabaret, bolero and more.
“The Ballroom night is tradition at the dance festival for many reasons,” said Damian Woetzel, the Vail International Dance Festival artistic director. “Perhaps most importantly, ballroom dancing is something we all can relate to as having the possibility that we can participate ourselves, that we might waltz or rumba should the happy opportunity arise. And of course the dancers themselves are thrilling, each year bringing to vivid life on the stage the dances we see on television.”
Emmanuel Pierre-Antoine puts the program together and also participates. His partner is Liana Churilova.
“Emmanuel is always looking for the top dancers who are winning competitions,” said Martha Brassel, the festival manager.
Anna Trebunskaya and Gleb Savchenko will dance. Trebunskaya has wowed festival audiences before; Savchenko is new this year.
“He’s the Dancing with the Stars hottie who is coming,” Brassel said.
Alina Basyuk and partner Marat Gimaev, and Maria Nikolishina and partner Nikolai Voronovich, are also returning to the festival.
TELLING STORIES WITH DANCE
Travis and Jaimee Tuft, the undefeated two time U.S. Amateur American Smooth Champions, flew in from New Jersey Thursday morning. It’s the couples first time at the festival and first time in Colorado, Travis said. The Tufts are honored to be included among such standout dancers.
“All the couples Emmanuel has invited to come to perform are really high level, and all really good and really exciting to watch,” Travis said. “Every couple dancing, including ourselves, are all highly ranked in the U.S. All in the top four of our division, which is pretty high when you think about how across the country there are hundreds of couples who dance.”
Being surrounded by such talent spurs the dancers to perform at their highest level, said Travis, who mostly competes, in both couple and solo competitions.
“It pushes you to dance your best,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun actually, not competing, but just wanting to put on a good show, which is different for us as well.”
The Tufts will perform five routines Friday evening, beginning with a waltz with a Romeo and Juliet theme.
“We also have a tango we’ll dance themed to the music of ‘Mission Impossible,’” he said. “We’re dancing a foxtrot routine that has a lot of lifts in it. In the ballroom industry, we call it a theatrical foxtrot.”
Danced to the “edgy” song “Kill of the Night,” Travis said it’s definitely not the foxtrot you’ve seen your grandparents pull off.
“We’re also doing a Viennese Waltz to Avril Lavigne’s song ‘Keep Holding On,’ but it’s a cover by the cast of Glee,” Travis said. “The last piece is a cabaret style of dance .... with a lot of overhead lifts. It’s us trying to tell a story in that way instead of with traditional dance.”
‘ALL ABOUT PASSION’
Last year in a video interview he did before the festival, Pierre-Antoine said the evening is “all about passion.”
On stage, Pierre-Antoine becomes a “servant of the music,” he said.
“That’s the goal, stop being a dancer and become the dance,” he said.
For him and the other dancers, the audience is “the most important thing.”
“The way they interact with us, makes us dance even better,” he said. “We can’t thank enough the audience of Vail and the Vail community for the beautiful thing they’re doing for dancers all over the world, from ballroom to ballet. It’s an amazing venue. We can not thank them enough.”