Find your place at the Vail International Dance Festival |

Find your place at the Vail International Dance Festival

Sarah Mausolf
Vail CO, Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Maybe you’re a ballet snob who knows a pirouette from a plie.

Or perhaps you’re a closet “Dancing with the Stars” freak who longs to see ballroom up close.

Then again, you might hate ballet but love live music.

With opening night set for Sunday, all types of dance lovers are gearing up for the Vail International Dance Festival.

Whether you want to see dance classics like “Fancy Free” or have a hankering for flamenco, the 20th annual festival has something for you.

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Read on to find an event for your dance personality (See schedule for more details about the events).

You were raised on The Nutcracker, and a classics snob lurks within. Check out the Pacific Northwest Ballet on Tuesday.

The Washington-based company will perform “Fancy Free,” the famous 1940s ballet about three sailors on leave.

The following night, the dance company celebrates George Balanchine, legendary choreographer and founder of the New York City Ballet.

Revel in dance staples like Concerto Barocco, which was among three dances the New York City Ballet performed for its opening in 1948. Now that’s old school.

You can’t afford to go to the dentist, let alone the ballet. No worries. In an effort to bring dance to the masses, the festival this year launched “Dance for $20.08.”

If you can scrounge up $20 for a reserved seat or $8 for a spot on the lawn, you can see flamenco superstar Soledad Barrio and modern dance group Keigwin + Company.

Festival Director Damian Woetzel said the event offers a good introduction to dance because you can simultaneously experience a lot of the exciting things happening in the dance world. Hit up Coinstar if you have to.

You were born to fox-trot but movie execs refuse to cast you in “Dirty Dancing: Vail Nights.”

A new event called “Ballroom in the Streets” has your back.

This free workshop blurs the line between the audience and the stage, allowing regular couples to learn moves from professional ballroom dancers in Vail Village. After trying out new steps, watch the experts perfect them. Ballroom’s Best, the festival’s final event, features world champion ballroom and exhibition couples.

Take notes on some of the hottest choreographers around. A workshop zooms in on the life and works of Jerome Robbins, the genius behind “West Side Story” and “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Gain inside knowledge from two dancers who worked with Robbins before his death in 1998. Woetzel and Pacific Northwest Ballet director Peter Boal will hold a discussion and show film clips, and dancers will demonstrate Robbins’ works.

A separate workshop gets up close with Christopher Wheeldon, a former choreographer with the New York City Ballet who splintered off to form Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company. Wheeldon and three other choreographers from across the globe will discuss the process of choreography as dancers demonstrate.

You operate on the cutting edge, and appreciate a choreographer who does the same. Check out Paul Taylor Dance Company. New to the festival this year, the modern dance troupe has fielded praise on its spring season from the major critics. Here in Vail, Paul Taylor will perform “Esplanade” and acts like “Diggity,” a piece featuring metal dog cutouts scattered across the stage.

Also plunging into new territory, Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company returns this year with a variety of dances including the full version of “Fool’s Paradise.” Morphoses performed an abridged version of that modern ballet last year but this is the extended piece.

Philip Glass is your man. The famous composer plays on Sunday for opening night of the dance festival. Expect to hear several of his works, including “Songs and Poems for Solo Cello,” which is burning up on iTunes. Glass will light up the piano with pieces like “The Orchard” and “Wichita Vortex Sutra.” With Academy Award nominations for the scores behind “Kundun,” “The Hours” and “Notes on a Scandal,” Glass is a household name.

Russia, New York, Boston, England: You’ve been there, done that. But have you seen all of those countries’ best dancers on one stage? International Evenings of Dance returns this year with a mix of famous dancers from companies like England’s The Royal Ballet and Russia’s Kirov Ballet. Expect a unique addition this year: Fresh out of retirement from the New York City Ballet, Woetzel will dance “Sinatra Suite” in what could well be one of his last performances ever.

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2938 or

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