Vail Dance Festival announces plans, schedule for virtual 2020 festival |

Vail Dance Festival announces plans, schedule for virtual 2020 festival

The Vail Dance Festival canceled its in-person summer 2020 run due to the COVID-19 pandemic and announced in May that it would host a virtual adaptation of the festival this year. Those plans have now been outlined and shared with the general public.

Drawing on 10 years of debuts and revivals of performances, some of which have only been seen in Vail, organizers have created an online video series in collaboration with Vail Dance artistic talents. The virtual festival will kick off July 31 with a world premiere choreographed by Bobbi Jene Smith, which was specifically designed and produced for virtual spaces.

Adji Cissoko, Ashley Mayeux, James Gowan and Shuaib Elhassan perform an excerpt from Alonzo King’s “Common Ground” at the Dance for $20.19 program of the 2019 Vail Dance Festival.
Christopher Duggan | Special to the Daily

The virtual festival will also include educational programming including Passing Balanchine On with Heather Watts and Damian Woetzel, and Conversations On Dance with Rebecca King Ferraro and Michael Sean Breeden.

Links to view videos will be available for a limited time on Vail Dance’s YouTube channel and on the festival’s Facebook page.

“The Vail Dance Festival is a place of intense collaboration among our artists, and we look forward to the creative energy that will be more powerful than ever when we are all able to be together again next summer,” said Artistic Director Damien Woetzel in the May news release.

Virtual performance schedule

Opening Night

Friday, July 31, 6 p.m.

A selection of performances from the past 10 years including debuts, revivals and new works that have rarely, if ever been seen outside of Vail. The show is hosted by Artistic Director Damian Woetzel.

A limited number of ticketholders will be able to attend an in-person screening on July 31 at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail, which typically hosts the Vail Dance Festival each year. All spectators will follow social distancing protocols and state and county public health orders. For more information, visit

Virtual Gala

Sunday, Aug. 2, 6 p.m.

The Virtual Gala evening will feature stars of the Vail Dance Festival from the worlds of ballet, tap, modern and street dance. Guests will see choreographer Alonzo King’s “The Personal Element,” which premiered at the 2019 festival. Accompaniment will be an original score composed and performed by jazz luminary Jason Moran, danced by artists from Alonzo King LINES Ballet and New York City Ballet.

Passing Balanchine On

Monday, Aug. 3, 6 p.m.

Heather Watts and Damian Woetzel discuss mentoring, coaching and curating George Balanchine’s works at the Vail Dance Festival, with Tiler Peck, Herman Cornejo and Calvin Royal III, and featuring archival films of Balanchine repertory on Vail stages.

NOW: Premieres

Tuesday, Aug. 4, 6 p.m.

New works and collaborations made in Vail by a selection of today’s most adventurous voices in dance, featuring a world premiere choreographed by Bobbi Jene Smith with dancers Melissa Toogood, Calvin Royal III, and Smith herself joining in this dance made in and for the virtual space. This evening also features “Rise Wait Climb Through,” a 2018 world premiere choreographed by Justin Peck, with a commissioned score by Caroline Shaw.

Conversations On Dance with Rebecca King Ferraro & Michael Sean

Wednesday, Aug. 5, 6 p.m.

Rebecca King Ferraro and Michael Sean Breeden from the popular podcast series Conversations On Dance host in-depth discussions from afar with festival artists including Lil Buck, Calvin Royal III, and “the Cindies” Isabella Boylston and James Whiteside.

Closing Night

Friday, Aug. 7, 6 p.m.

Closing night includes the 2017 world premiere, “we seem to be more than one,” choreographed by Michelle Dorrance in collaboration with Dario Natarelli and her extraordinary cast. This piece captures the festival’s commitment to sharing all styles of dance: tap, ballet, contemporary, jookin’, flamenco and modern traditions. Hosted by Damian Woetzel, the evening will open with the 2019 world premiere piece d’occasion “Carolina Shout” with jazz pianist Jason Moran and dancers Michelle Dorrance and Lil Buck.

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