Athletic, poetic join in one aesthetic
He rides motorcycles, loves women and is considered to be one of the most talented ballet dancers of the 21st century. Not what you expected from a ballet superstar? Preconceptions beware as Ethan Stiefel is just one of the many artists performing in the Vail International Dance Festival during the next two weeks: Aug. 6-15 – and like Stiefel, this Festival may surprise you.Stiefel and his partner, also a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, perform Friday and Saturday in the International Evenings, a showcase of ballet’s very best artists, many performing the traditional pas de deux – “a dance for two.” It is not traditional however, to see dancers of this caliber sharing the stage with other dancing virtuosos from different companies. That is the appeal of the International Evenings.Marianela Nunez and Thiago Soares of The Royal Ballet, Shoko Nakamura and Jurgen Wagner of the Vienna State Opera Ballet, International guest artists Ilja Louwen and Leo Mujic, Eric Gauthier of The Stuttgart Ballet and International exhibition Champions Natalie Woolf and Victor da Silva will all perform for two nights at the Ford Amphitheater. Forget New York or Paris. You can see a world of dancing all on one stage right here in our backyard.
The festival continues next week with the Choreographers Collection: Aug. 10-11 – at the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek. Since 1998, the Vail International Dance Festival, presented by the Vail Valley Foundation, has collaborated with national dance companies to commission new works by young choreographers.”The Choreographers Collection is our opportunity to give back to the dance community,” said Katherine Kersten, producing artistic director of the festival. “The future of dance depends greatly on the rise and talent of new choreographers capable of stretching and developing the art form.”This year’s featured choreographer is Trey McIntyre, one of the most sought after young dance makers working in the world of contemporary ballet today. McIntyre’s creation, “Chasing Squirrel,” is an intense, athletic and at times amusing exploration of Latin culture.
“This piece explores the modern and historic details of Latin culture as they pertain to relationships between men and women,” says McIntyre. “Women are portrayed as larger than life mystical icons which provoke fear in men. The passionate music of the Kronos Quartet inspired me to attack this topic and present it as an intense free-for-all piece of choreography.”McIntyre’s piece is set on Cincinnati Ballet, a reputable company established in 1958. The world premiere of McIntyre’s “Chasing Squirrel” is on Tuesday, Aug. 30. The piece is part of Wednesday evening’s repertoire as well, along with two different pieces, allowing festivalgoers to see Cincinnati Ballet perform five works in all between the two nights.Aug. 12-15 the festival returns to the Ford Amphitheater in Vail. Victor Ullate Ballet, back by popular demand after an enthusiastic reception in 2000, performs for two evenings – Aug. 12 and 13. Each evening features a different repertoire. The company is under the direction of Founder and General Director Victor Ullate and Artistic Director Eduardo Lao.
This is not your grandma’s ballet – you won’t find any tutus here. Instead, expect contemporary, sexy costumes that only add to the already sensual and provocative choreography. The company does not tour and this is a rare opportunity to see them in the United States.Kersten is introducing a new component to the festival schedule this year with “Different Dimensions, A Festival Within a Festival.” The evening features four very different pieces ranging from classical ballet to contemporary choreography performed to the music of Etta James. The groups appearing include Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet (a San Francisco-based contemporary company), Ballet Internationale led by Artistic Director Eldar Aliev (former principal dancer with the Kirov Ballet), Buglisi/Foreman Dance (a distinguished quartet who danced together as principal artists with Martha Graham for two decades), and Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo (a company known for its playful and entertaining parody of classical ballet). The evening features a surprising performance by the Trocks great ballerina Ida Nevasayneva in one of Anna Pavlova’s most famous signature solos.The festival concludes with two performances by Les Ballets Africans of the Republic of Guinea – Sunday, Aug. 15. This company was born in the middle of the fight of the African countries against colonialism. Now, 50 years later, the traditional dance, acrobatics and storytelling the company are known for, are on display here in Vail. Africa is represented through their choreography to the accompaniment of live tribal instruments. There is a family-friendly matinee of Les Ballets Africains at 1:30 p.m. followed by a full-length performance at 7:30 p.m.The Vail International Dance Festival is not what you might expect. It is a lot more. From classical to contemporary, from sexy to tribal, there really is something for everyone. Tickets are available by phone at 845-TIXS (8497) or online at http://www.vvf.org. Purchase tickets in person at the Ford Amphitheater or Vilar Center box offices.