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A potpourri of dance in Vail

Charlie Owen
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily
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VAIL ” Not everything featured in the Vail International Dance Festival is “Swan Lake,” tutus and pointe shoes.

Damian Woetzel, the festival’s artistic director, has worked hard to make sure that this year’s lineup isn’t just for the dance-critic elitist or hardcore ballet fan.

Instead, Woetzel has brought together a diverse and affordable program called Dance for 20.08 with the hope that their will be something for everybody to enjoy from the sample platter of dance. Tonight, every seat at the Ford Amphitheater will sell for $20.08 with lawn tickets going for $8 and the show is what Woetzel called a great example of bringing worldclass dance with broad appeal to the masses.



“If you’re a connoisseur you’re going to see the depth and if you’ve never seen it you’re going to be blown away,” Woetzel said.

Tonight’s Dance for 20.08 program will feature Spain’s Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenca, New York’s Keigwin and Company and performers from the New York City Ballet, three world-famous dance companies with drastically different styles.



Passionate improv

As a career dancer himself, Woetzel has special insight into what makes each company so talented. He called Soledad Barrio the best flamenco dancer in the world, and he’s seen a lot of flamenco dance in his time.

“To me it’s just a simple rule: Everything that I bring here has got to be the best. So even though it’s a $20.08 night for accessibility these are the best dancers in the world in their field. I could easily do the same program for the top price,” Woetzel said.



Husband and wife team Martin Santangelo (artistic director) and Soledad Barrio (lead dancer) created Noche Flamenca to tell a beautiful story through music, song and dance.

Flamenco dancing is a sight to behold. The dancers must be graceful, powerful and full of passion as they express elements of a story through movement with simultaneous hand and feet work. Improvisation is another key characteristic of the dance style which adds a certain elemental quality of unpredictability to the show. Noche Flamenca provides the original compositions that move the performance forward.

At first the center of the show is the singer, Manuel Gago.

“The person who controls, who everybody has to follow that emotion, is the singer,” said Carlos Perez Vega, general manager of Noche Flamenca.

But as Barrio begins to dance, she will take control, and singer and music must follow her lead, according to Perez Vega.

“As a company we try to project everything we do ” not to keep it for us , (but) to really give it to them, to the people, to the public,” he said.

Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenca are just one aspect of the 20.08 show.

“On the other hand you’ll have classical ballet from the New York City Ballet,” Woetzel said.

The show will also showcase performances by “fantastic dancers” Ashley Bouder and Daniel Ulbricht of the New York City Ballet, according to Woetzel, and modern dancing set to popular music from Keigwin and Company.

“Love Songs” is a collection of six short contemporary dance pieces about the different aspects of love with a common story arch that should be “entertaining, heartfelt and poignant” according to Kevin Keigwin, artistic director and dancer for Keigwin and Company.

Dances will be set to classic artists such as Neil Diamond, Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone, which should help the audience feel more comfortable in the end.

“It’s music that everyone’s going to know, that they’re going to want to dance to, and I think that it reflects relationships that we’re all in,” Keigwin said.

It’s kind of like a Broadway musical without the acting and singing since the entire tale is told through dance expression. Keigwin called it a collection of all his own most powerful influences.

If Woetzel’s instincts are correct, then Dance for 20.08 has the potential to lure people in with one style of dance, convert them into fans of another and then keep them returning to other dance festivals for years to come. The broad scope of the material is enough to ensure that almost anyone will find something they like during the performances, Woetzel said.

“I think they should just come to have a very entertaining night of dance of all types because it’s going to run the gamut and I think they’re going to walk away wanting to come back for more and that’s the point,” he said.

High Life writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 970-748-2939 or cowen@vaildaily.com.


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