Eagle County loves dancing

Allyson Litt
Lil Buck performs to the Michael Jackson song “Billie Jean” at the UpClose: Footwork performance on Wednesday at the Vilar Performing Arts Center.
Erin Baiano | Special to the Daily |

Putting Vail on the map as a destination for a spectacular cultural exchange and a world-renowned dance performance series, the Vail International Dance Festival celebrates its 25th season now through Aug. 10.

If Vail is known for its skiing in the winter, then it’s definitely known for its cultural events in the summer — especially the dance festival. Drawing major support from the community, the Vail International Dance Festival attracts crowds for more reasons than just a great show.

“I just think it is so impressive having this big of a dance community coming to a town like Vail,” said Devon Jones, who has been attending the performances now for eight years. “Having these kind of performers packed into a two-week period is unlike anywhere else; it’s a pretty unique thing the Vail Valley Foundation does.”

Exactly what kind of dance can we expect this year? Hip-hop, ballroom, modern, ballet and tango will be there, performed by the top dancers in the world, as well as some Colorado natives. The living legend of modern dance, 82-year-old Paul Taylor, will present a world premiere on Monday.

“Over the last 25 years we have premiered dances in Vail by a wide variety of choreographers, and this year we are honored to present a new work by Paul Taylor, whose dances have affected generations of audiences, and who is among history’s most powerful poets in any art form,” said festival director Damian Woetzel.

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Along with Taylor, four other choreographers will also present four world premieres.

Audiences composed of young and old alike look forward to welcoming back artists they’ve seen in previous years, as well as some new faces.

After touring with Madonna in 2012, Charles “Lil Buck” Riley returns to Vail for a series of performances involving his urban dance style known as Memphis jookin’.

“He made his body move like rubber,” said Jones, who looks forward to seeing Riley take the stage again this year. “I love taking my kids to the show, too.”

‘Let students see on stage’

Colin Meiring, of the Vail Valley Dance Academy, uses the Vail International Dance Festival as an example for what his students can become one day, and he chaperones trips to the performances.

“I try to get to every performance; it’s good to let students see on stage what you’ve been teaching them,” Meiring said. “Dance TV (which closes the festival Aug. 10) is the night that resonates most with the students, and my other favorite is ballroom dancing since I’m a ballroom instructor.”

Ballroom Spectacular takes place Aug. 9 at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater.

Inspiration is seen and felt on all levels of the Vail International Dance Festival.

Jonathan Royse Windham, who grew up in Vail watching the festival each summer and who studied dance at the Vail Valley Academy of Dance, performed this year for the first time at the festival’s opening night on July 28. Windham was named one of Dance Magazine’s “Top 25 to Watch” in January.

Fourteen-year-old Serena Kozusko has been attending shows at the festival for four years now and has even become a dance ambassador, becoming involved with ticket and merchandise sales.

“I love the International Evenings of Dance because to me, that has the most variety and I love to see the different dancing,” said festival attendee Kozusko. “I can’t wait to see performances by Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild, as well.”

Both Peck and Fairchild are with the New York City Ballet and were chosen as the festival’s artists-in-residence.

Whether you’re involved with the production, a returning crowd member, aspiring dancer, or first-time attendee, the Vail International Dance Festival has something for everyone.

“Each night is special,” Jones said. “If one night isn’t your thing, make sure you go to the next.”

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