35th Annual Vail Dance Festival kicks off Friday, July 28

Martha Graham Dance Company in 'CAVE' by Hofesh Shechter.
Chris Jones/Courtesy photo
If you go …
  • What: Vail Dance Festival
  • When: July 28 - August 7
  • Where: Vail
  • Cost: $30 - $160

The Vail Dance Festival begins its 35th season on Friday, July 28 at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in the heart of the Colorado Rockies. Under the artistic direction of Damian Woetzel, the 2023 summer season will bring together world-renowned dancers, musicians, composers, and choreographers for 12 performances and multiple events throughout Vail and the surrounding communities through August 7.

It all starts on Opening Night, July 28 at 7:30 p.m. with a performance of classic and new works featuring luminary dance stars and companies from coast to coast that are scheduled to perform throughout the Festival season. The opening weekend performance schedule continues with the legendary Martha Graham Dance Company on Saturday, July 29, a special UpClose performance featuring the works of George Balanchine on Sunday, July 30, and L.A. Dance Project on Monday, July 31. The Festival continues with additional performances and special events through August 7.

Opening Night: Friday, July 28, 7:30 p.m. at The Amp

The Vail Dance Festival kicks off with a dazzling Opening Night of spectacular performances from artists and companies all making appearances on the same night. Casting and repertory includes a performance excerpt by Music From The Sole, as well as Justin Peck’s “Become a Mountain” performed by BalletX, “Black Swan Pas de Deux” performed by New York City Ballet principal dancers Mira Nadon and Chun Wai Chan, “Adagio in B Minor” performed by Daisy Jacobsen and David Freeland Jr. of L.A. Dance Project with live piano accompaniment by Cameron Grant, a special Broadway inspired duet choreographed and danced by Caili Quan and Robbie Fairchild, Alonzo King’s “Epilogue” featuring Artist-In-Residence Adji Cissoko with American Ballet Theatre’s Calvin Royal III with live piano accompaniment by Joel Wenhardt, and George Balanchine’s “Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux” danced by New York City Ballet principal dancers Tiler Peck and Roman Mejia. The evening concludes with a thrilling excerpt of Hofesh Schechter’s rave dance club inspired “CAVE” performed by the Martha Graham Dance Company.

Additional opening weekend performances at The Amp: July 29 – 31

Martha Graham Dance Company, July 29

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The legendary Martha Graham Dance Company will present three iconic works including the newly reimagined “Canticle for the Innocent Comedians” inspired by the 1938 poem by Ben Belitt celebrating the different elements of nature, “Errand into the Maze” which is loosely derived from the myth of Theseus, a creature who is half-moon and half-beast, and “CAVE,” a visceral new work created last year by Hofesh Shechter that blends the pulsating energy of a techno nightclub rave with galvanizing contemporary choreography that is both immersive and transcendent. The Vail program brings the energy of Martha Graham Dance Company to the mountains, sharing the powerful history and dynamic present of this American dance treasure.

American Ballet Theatre’s Catherine Hurlin returns to the Festival this year.
Erin Baiano/Courtesy photo

UpClose: Mr. B: George Balanchine’s 20th Century, July 30

The new book entitled “Mr. B: George Balanchine’s 20th Century” by Jennifer Homans has been hailed by critics and dance fans as a remarkable biography of the legendary choreographer and founder of New York City Ballet. Ms. Homans joins famed Balanchine ballerina Heather Watts, Festival Artistic Director Damian Woetzel, and an all-star cast of dancers, for a not to be missed UpClose behind-the-scenes evening featuring rehearsal excerpts of classic Balanchine repertory including “Apollo,” “Agon,” “Serenade,” “Prodigal Son” and “Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux.” Casting will include New York City Ballet dancers Mira Nadon, Tiler Peck, Unity Phelan, Chun Wai Chan, and Roman Mejia, National Ballet of Canada principal dancer Ben Rudisin, along with American Ballet Theatre’s Calvin Royal III, Devon Teuscher and James Whiteside, as well as Lauren Lovette and Robbie Fairchild, both former principal dancers of New York City Ballet.

L.A. Dance Project, July 31

Acclaimed for its bold interdisciplinary collaborations in dance, music and visual art, L.A. Dance Project returns to Vail with a contemporary program that includes “Quartet for 5” by Bobbi Jene Smith and Or Schraiber, “5 Live Calibrations” by Madeline Hollander, and “Everyone Keeps Me” by Pam Tanowitz, originally commissioned by the Royal Ballet in honor of the centennial of Merce Cunningham’s birth. Festival Quartet-In-Residence Brooklyn Rider will perform alongside L.A. Dance Project, bringing scores by Ted Hearne and Philip Glass to life for this extraordinary evening of contemporary dance and music.

Additional Opening Weekend Events: July 27 – 31

In addition to the mainstage performances at The Amp, the opening weekend festivities include:

Dancing in the Streets at Solaris Plaza with the Martha Graham Dance Company on Thursday, July 27 at 6 p.m. and BalletX on Sunday, July 30 at the cross streets of Bridge and Gore at 12 p.m. Dancing in the Streets performances are free and participation is encouraged.

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Master Classes on Opening Weekend include Ballet with Caili Quan and Broadway with Robbie Fairchild on Thursday, July 27, Ballet and Repertory with BalletX and Modern with Martha Graham Dance Company on Friday, July 28, Ballet with Tiler Peck and Repertory with L.A. Dance Project on Saturday, July 29, Ballet with Adji Cissoko and Tap with Leonardo Sandoval on Sunday, July 30, and Ballet with James Whiteside and Ballet with Jeffery Cirio on Monday, July 31.

The popular Conversations on Dance live podcast recordings returns for another season. Conversations on Dance events give audiences an inside look into the world of professional dancers through discussions about ballet training, techniques, choreography, and conduct interviews with some of the dance world’s best and brightest. A limited number of tickets are sold to each Conversations on Dance during the Vail Dance Festival and opening weekend features interviews with Martha Graham Dance Company on Saturday, July 29, L.A. Dance Project on Sunday, July 30, and Music from the Sole on Monday, July 31. 

For the full season schedule of events and to purchase tickets for Master Classes, Conversations on Dance, other special events and performances visit

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