Imhof: Celebration and thanks for Vail Dance Festival success (column) | VailDaily.com

Imhof: Celebration and thanks for Vail Dance Festival success (column)

Mike Imhof
Valley Voices

Mike Imhof

As the summer comes to a close, let's look back on a season of historic milestones for dance and the arts in the Vail Valley. Before we do, I would like to go back much farther to a time 29 years ago: The Iron Curtain had recently fallen, and the Soviet Union's world-famous Bolshoi Ballet Academy was once again free to perform outside its country's boundaries. In a series of fortuitous events, Bolshoi Academy dancers, under the direction of the iconic Madame Sofia Golovkina, came to Vail and graced our stage at the then-1-year-old Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater.

Year by year, performance by performance, the event now known as the Vail Dance Festival began to take shape. With tremendous support from the community, the festival grew to become the premiere dance event in the nation. In 2006, Damian Woetzel took the helm as artistic director, and a new world of possibilities invigorated the event.

Over the years, we have witnessed breathtaking creativity, countless collaborations and more than 70 new works. We have worked tirelessly to remove cultural and economic barriers between our audiences and the performing art of dance. In doing so, we have broadened the art form's appeal, expanded its cultural impact and fostered an enthusiastic future audience for our beloved celebration of dance.

This year, with the unwavering support of the community and with the talented work of Vail Valley Foundation and festival staff, the Vail Dance Festival experienced its best year yet. Our 2017 ticket sales were record setting, and our two free community performances in Avon more than doubled in attendance year-over-year.

The event's new works were critically acclaimed, and our evening of dance exclusively choreographed by women was groundbreaking. Our Community Arts Access program, which provides tickets to families that might not otherwise have the opportunity to attend, distributed more than 300 tickets to community members via 16 local organizations and agencies.

As any spectator can attest, metrics do not tell the whole story. Beyond the record-setting numbers and raving New York Times reviews, there was the dancing itself, the community interactions at Dancing in the Streets and the intimate and revealing conversations at our new Festival Forums — all of it spectacular.

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As the Vail Dance Festival moves toward its 30th year, not only are we stable and doing well, we are growing by leaps and bounds and expanding into new directions and genres. This is a testament to our community support, incredibly generous partners and patrons and the hard work and leadership of our staff, contractors and volunteers.

Our sincere thanks to all of you who help ensure the performing arts have a place in our valley. As summer 2017 comes to a close, we are already turning our attention toward next year: our 30-year anniversary of the Vail Dance Festival. We are making plans for a year worthy of the milestone and hope you can join us, take part, dance with us in the streets and toast three decades of dance in the Vail Valley when the event gets underway, July 28 to Aug. 11, 2018.

Mike Imhof is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Foundation.

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