10 for 10: Decade of innovation for Damian Woetzel with Vail International Dance Festival | VailDaily.com

10 for 10: Decade of innovation for Damian Woetzel with Vail International Dance Festival

Katie Coakley
Special to the Daily

New. The idea has a shine to it, a sense of anticipation. It's the promise of something lively and exciting; of an experience that will be savored and relived, long after the actual event has passed.

For the past 10 years, Damian Woetzel has brought the new to the Vail International Dance Festival, time and time again. From fostering new works to creating new partnerships to bringing new performers to the open-air stage of the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Woetzel's 10-year tenure as artistic director for the festival has been a celebration of new.

The 2016 season, which runs from Saturday, July 30, to Saturday, Aug. 13, will be the largest festival to date, both on stage and off. Woetzel continues to innovate, presenting performances by artists and companies that are new to the festival lineup, such as the Dance Theatre of Harlem. He's even taking the show on the road, creating Vail Dance Festival: ReMix NYC, a program that brings the magic of the festival to the New York City Center from Thursday, Nov. 3, to Sunday, Nov. 6.

Though new is critical for the Vail International Dance Festival, Woetzel's legacy also features programs that continue to effect change in the Vail Valley, such as Celebrate the Beat, a curriculum that has delivered dance through both in-school and after-school programs to more than 4,000 students in the Vail Valley since its launch in 2007. The Master Class Series gives local dance students the chance to learn from world-class dancers, instructors and companies, and Dancing in the Streets and Village Vignette take the performers off the stage and into Vail for shows in the heart of town.

The 28th season of the Vail International Dance Festival promises to be another world-class collection of dance, with plenty of new to keep audiences enthralled. While it's not fair to ask Woetzel what his favorite performance will be, he was willing to provide his top 10 "not to miss" moments for the 2016 season.

1. Opening Night: Saturday, July 30

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"Opening Night will have a taste of many things to come in the Festival," Woetzel said. "It's a great way to kick things off."

Featuring a wide range of dance styles, the Vail International Dance Festival will begin with performances by the festival artist-in-residence, American Ballet Theatre's Isabella Boylston, and jookin' creator Lil Buck.

2. BalletX: Sunday, July 31

The 2016 company-in-residence, BalletX, is a contemporary dance company based in Philadelphia known for its unique repertoire.

"Company-in-residence BalletX headlines their own evening on July 31," Woetzel said. "I can't wait to see Trey McIntyre's new work for them that night set to the music of Amy Winehouse — they rock!"

3 and 4. Michelle Dorrance: Tuesday, Aug. 2

Phenomenal enough to warrant taking up two spaces on this list, American tap dancer, choreographer, teacher and musician Michelle Dorrance has been called "one of the most imaginative tap choreographers working today" by The New Yorker. She and her company are making their Festival debut in an evening that will be one of the highlights of the season.

"You haven't see tap dancing until you've seen tap superstar Michelle Dorrance and her company, who along with live musicians are making a special evening for Vail on Aug. 2," Woetzel said. "Did I mention that Michelle Dorrance is a certified 'genius,' as per the MacArthur Foundation? Seriously, don't miss her show with her extraordinary group of fellow tap dancers and musicians."

5. International Evenings of Dance I: Friday, Aug. 5

The International Evenings of Dance feature an impressive cast of dancers in an array of styles, ranging from classic ballet to ballroom dancing to Memphis jookin'.

"Bill Irwin, aka Sesame Street's 'Mr. Noodle,' will be back for International Evening I only," Woetzel said. "You won't want to miss what he is cooking up this time."

Tickets for International Evenings of Dance I are already sold out, and only limited seats remain for International Evenings of Dance II.

6. NOW: Premiers program: Monday, Aug. 8

Commissioned by the Festival from highly acclaimed choreographers, the NOW: Premiers program is a truly unique evening of dance.

"Great new works have become a festival signature, and this year we have an extraordinary selection of choreographers creating pieces just for Vail on the NOW: Premieres program," Woetzel said. "Aug. 8 will be the unveiling of pieces that feature dancers from our greatest ballet stars to street dancers, modern and contemporary artists — it's a creatively exciting evening like no other."

7. Dance Theatre of Harlem: Wednesday, Aug. 10

Performing for the first time at the Vail International Dance Festival, the Dance Theatre of Harlem is a multicultural dance institution founded 40 years ago after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to provide children, especially in Harlem, an opportunity to learn about dance. It's now a globally acclaimed organization that includes an Ensemble, arts-education center and community-outreach program.

"I am so proud to have this groundbreaking company making its festival debut this year with a program specially designed for us," Woetzel said.

Dance Theatre of Harlem's program of classics and groundbreaking contemporary works is already sold out.

8. Paul Taylor Dance Company: Thursday, Aug. 11

For more than 60 years, the Paul Taylor Dance Company has been thrilling audiences around the world with works from Paul Taylor, one of the seminal choreographers of modern dance in the 20th and 21st centuries.

"Paul Taylor Dance Company returns to Vail with a program of masterpieces created by Paul Taylor, our greatest living choreographer," Woetzel said. "The chance to see Mr. Taylor's dancers perform his work is one not to miss in the setting of the Ford Amphitheater. It will be an incredibly beautiful night."

9. Ballroom Spectacular: Friday, Aug. 12

Get ready for an evening of twirling and whirling as waltz, rumba, cha-cha, merengue, samba, tango and foxtrot return to the Ford Amphitheater. "Dancing with the Stars" performer Anna Trebunskaya has cultivated a just-for-Vail program featuring ballroom dancers from around the world.

"Ballroom is back, this time in a show created by Anna Trebunskaya," Woetzel said. "It will be all ballroom, all night long under the stars."

10. DanceTV: Saturday, Aug. 13

Television shows such as "Dancing with the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance" bring dance into our homes on the small screen. For the closing evening of the Vail International Dance Festival, the small screen comes to life on the stage of the Ford Amphitheater with performances from the shows' dancers.

"The incredible insanity of DanceTV will be crazier than ever this year, with dancers from 'So You Think You CanDance' sharing the stage with ballerina superstars Tiler Peck and Isabella Boylston, video sensations Syncopated Ladies and Lil Buck, 'Dancing with the Stars' royalty Anna Trebunskaya and Dmitri Chaplin, Broadway and ballet triple-threat Robert Fairchild and more," Woetzel said.

From ballet to modern dance, ballroom to jookin', the Vail International Dance Festival continues to bring spectacular performances to the Vail Valley. Under Woetzel's direction, the festival will introduce new artists, companies and performers to the audiences who so eagerly pack the seats and spread out on the lawn.

Though a decade is a decided milestone for Woetzel, he continues to present each season as though it's his first: new and exciting, just waiting to be experienced. Be prepared for yet another amazing season of dance.

Vail International Dance Festival schedule

Here’s a rundown of this season’s performances. For a full schedule, including master classes and fringe events, visit http://www.vaildance.org or call 888-920-2787.

• Opening Night — 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 30, Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail

• BalletX — 7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 31, Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail

• Dorrance Dance in Concert — 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 2, Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail

• UpClose: Vail’s Dance Festival with Damian Woetzel — 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 3, Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek

• International Evenings of Dance I 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5, Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail

• International Evenings of Dance II — 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6, Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail

• NOW: Premieres — 7:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 8, Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail

• Dance for $20.16 — 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 9, Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail

• Dance Theatre of Harlem — 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10, Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek

• Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 11, Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail

• Ballroom Spectacular — 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 12, Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail

• Dance TV — 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail