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A job well danced

Wren Wertin
Vail, CO, Colorado
AE Pacific Northwest Balet DT 7-30-07
ALL |

Just so you know where I stand:

1. Stories thrill me, plot-driven, character-driven or otherwise.

2. I’m partial to poppy dance movies ” I can utter the phrase, “I love ‘Dirty Dancing.'” entirely without irony.



3. I adore party dresses.

That said, it’s obvious the Vail International Dance Festival is an easy fit for me. We get to put on our fancies (if we care to), sit in a crowd of 2,000 or so, and watch stories created through moving, beautiful bodies. What’s not to love?



When you come into contact with people who are really good at their job, it’s inspiring. A massage therapist who takes away your pain, a realtor who connects you with a real home, a singer who makes the hair on the nape of your neck stand on end ” suddenly having a job is less about a paycheck and more about a vocation. And it seems like a damned fine system that makes most of us pursue a calling in order to feed and clothe ourselves. Work is good.

It’s the lot of the Pacific Northwest Ballet dancers to conjure up these feelings of thankfulness, even if it’s not their purpose. They’ve come to Vail to dance, to leap and spin and sway. Taking instruction from choreographers, composers and their own intuition, they synthesize it all in movement. And whether or not you can give each step they make its proper name in dancespeak, you can certainly watch and be affected by it.

Sunday’s opening night performance, dubbed “American Dance Spectacular,” was comprised entirely of dances created in America. A tribute to the late Gerald Ford, it was a fitting way to begin the festival. To my uneducated eye, the opening number “Square Dance” was interesting, while “In the Night” was sweet. But “Nine Sinatra Songs,” choreographed by Twyla Tharp and performed to a score sung entirely by Ol’ Blue Eyes, transcended any mental summation. There was no inner dialogue for me; I was caught up entirely in the dances. Each couple so completely channeled the personalities of their characters: the fierce lovers, the playful flirts, the mismatched duo, the distant individuals. Talk about holding forth on the trials and tribulations of relationships, all the while listening to Frank Sinatra. For those who missed it, you’ve got another chance. Tonight’s performance, “Modern Masters,” begins with the very same “Nine Sinatra Songs,” complete with costumes by none other than Oscar de la Renta. It’s an easy way to spend a bit of time, and it’ll probably leave you a bit charged up to run home and dance to the beat of your own drummer.



But Tharp’s piece is the only cross-over of the evening, which features contemporary dances exclusively. We’re spoiled here in Vail. No less than the New York Philharmonic comes a-callin’ every summer. But that’s no reason to miss the opportunity to sit and be wowed. For more information visit http://www.vaildance.org, or call 845-TIXS.


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