Former World Masters at Vail student returns to Ford Amphitheater |

Former World Masters at Vail student returns to Ford Amphitheater

Daily Staff Report
Special to the DailyDancer David Hallberg will come full circle when he returns to Vail this summer for the Vail International Dance Festival's International Evenings of Dance.

VAIL – During the summer of 1998, David Hallberg was more than just 900 miles from his home in Phoenix. He was in Vail, studying ballet with French and Russian master teachers, terrified to be in his first class with all male students as part of the Vail International Dance Festival’s World Masters at Vail program.A much more confident, not to mention accomplished Hallberg will return to the Vail Valley Aug. 4-5 when the newly named principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre in New York will partner with Argentine dancer and fellow American Ballet Theatre principal Paloma Herrera as part of the Dance Festival’s International Evenings of Dance.Needless to say, Hallberg has come a long way from his first stop in Vail as a late blooming but promising dancer.

Hallberg’s historyBorn in Rapids City, South Dakota, his family moved to Arizona when he was 8. He only began to study ballet at 13, late by traditional classical standards, after he went to the newly formed Arizona School for the Arts. There, former Boston Ballet soloist Kee-Juan Han recognized his ability, although it took the better part of his first year at the school for Han to convince Hallberg to consider ballet.”It was very difficult at first,” Hallberg said. “The others had been learning ballet for years and I don’t think I’ve ever worked as hard as I did during those three or four years.” The “others” were all girls and it was not until the World Masters at Vail that Hallberg first joined a class of male students.

“It was my first summer away for an intensive and I have great memories of all I learned,” Hallberg said. “I especially loved how I had only two teachers for the whole time I was there. It was very intensive and concentrated work.”More uncharted waters still lay ahead as Hallberg decided that a change of scenery would do him good, despite having a promise from American Ballet Theatre’s artistic director that there would be a place waiting for him upon graduation from high school.The wanderlust took him to France where he auditioned for and was accepted to the Paris Opera Ballet School, one of the world’s most esteemed dance institutions. The fact that he did not speak French was an afterthought.”We lived in dorms with no cell phones or TV and I was in classes with 11-year-olds because I had to learn the language,” Hallberg said. “It was very hard to fit in, but it was an amazing experience. I learned to speak French, I watched the Paris Opera Ballet every weekend and I saw a range of work that I would have never seen in the U.S.”.

Becoming a soloistHallberg returned to the States and joined American Ballet Theatre’s Studio Company in 2000. He was promoted to a soloist in 2004 and earlier this spring, he was elevated to principal dancer.He is the recipient of the Princess Grace Fellowship and the Chris Hellman Dance Award for 2002-03 and was nominated for the Benois de la Danse Prize in Moscow in 2004.For the 2006 International Evenings of Dance, Hallberg and Herrera will join five other internationally renowned couples for two evenings of classical and contemporary duets, including favorite pas de deux from the classical ballet repertoire, along with works from today’s most influential contemporary European and American choreographers.

International Evening couples will also include Anna Antonicheva and Vladimir Neporozhiy of the Bolshoi Ballet, Isabelle Ciaravola and Benjamin Pech of the Paris Opera Ballet, Stephanie Dalphond, Africa Guzman and Alejandro Alvarez of Compania Nacional de Danza, Eri Nakamura and Luca Vetere of Victor Ullate Ballet and Lorena Feijoo of the Boston Ballet and Damian Woetzel of New York City Ballet.Tickets for the International Evenings of Dance are priced from $17 to $85 and are available, along with all other Vail International Dance Festival performance tickets, online at or by calling either 845-TIXS (8497) or 888-920-ARTS (2787).The 2006 Vail International Dance Festival is presented by the Vail Valley Foundation. For additional information on the festival or the foundation, call 949-1999 or visit, Colorado

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