Alan Braunholtz: Enjoying Vail’s summer offerings |

Alan Braunholtz: Enjoying Vail’s summer offerings

Alan Braunholtz

The Gerald Ford Amphitheatre is one of the heroes of pleasant summer evenings in the Vail Valley. It’s host to a broad menu of entertainment and is an idyllic setting for immersing oneself in any performance.

The free concert series is perhaps the best summer event to meet up with old acquaintances who’ve strayed from your current circles. It’s almost guaranteed that you’ll exchange open-eyed smiles with some face from the past, and if you’re lucky you’ll remember from where you knew them.

The Bravo Music and Dance Festivals illustrate the advantages of living near a world-class resort and real estate market. We get to piggyback on the backs of the wealthy and partake (from the lawn seats) of the culture they sponsor and bring here to entertain themselves.

Both festivals are brilliant and rare opportunities to experience metropolitan culture in a small mountain town.

Any stuffy preconceptions about classical music and dance can’t make it past the gates of Ford Amphitheater. The venue won’t allow it. It’s open and welcoming, with any human conceit dwarfed by the silhouettes of green slopes, jagged mountains, dramatic evening skies and a gentle grass bowl covered with a patchwork of blankets and picnics with high-speed children weaving to and fro.

The lawn seating is as good as it gets. For little more than the price of a movie ticket and popcorn, one can lounge with friends, snack on your own cheese and grapes and lay back to the sounds of the best musicians anywhere. If variety is the spice of life, the Ford Amphitheater provides summer long opportunities to do something a little different. The people-watching is superb as fashions of different generations and lifestyles mix together.

Music allows a relaxed approach of lying back and watching the swallows perform aerobatics chasing insects across the sky. With the ballet, one has to sit up and hope the athletes on stage match the avian performers high above.

Ballet is a weird art, an expression of the beauty of the human body and how it can move, I suppose. Ballet dancers, lithe, strong and fluid, are basically objects of beauty all by themselves.

Still I wonder at the wardrobe designer’s choices at times. No self-respecting pirate I know would pick a nice faux diamond arm bracelet and turquoise hip huggers with matching feather perched on forehead for a swashbuckling image.

It’s hard to describe what makes a great dance performance, but you know it when you see it. You’ll suddenly sit up and forget about the swallows and snacks. I’m more of a fan of the spectacular leaps and spins with a lower tolerance for extended interpretive swaying, arm movements and body shimmers. But the great thing about an evening of dance is that all tastes are covered.

Girls in the audience pirouette on rocks while mesmerized by the performers on stage, and perhaps realize for the first time the potential power of their future grace, movement and beauty.

Art provides a simple clarity that is hard to find in real life, except perhaps, in sport. It may not always be a practical message, but who’d begrudge themselves this inspiration? At the very least, it’s not often a national orchestra serenades your picnic while real human sprites dance for your pleasure.

The mountain lifestyle is happily bizarre at times and one should enjoy it.

Alan Braunholtz of Vail writes a regular column for the Vail Daily. Submit comments to

Support Local Journalism