From your TV to the Vail stage

Caramie Schnell
Jonathan Roberts, left, and Anna Trebunskaya, who have both been featured on the show "Dancing With the Stars" perform the tango during the Vail International Dance Festival's Dance TV show at Ford Amphitheater in 2011. Trebunskaya will return to the program this year. She'll dance with Dmitry Chaplin.
Daily file photo | Kristin Anderson |

If you go ...

What: Dance TV, the final Vail International Dance Festival event.

Where: Ford Amphitheater, Vail.

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Cost: $20/$55/$75 depending on seats.

More information: Visit

Dance TV host Tricia Swenson attributes the popularity of Dance TV, the final Vail International Dance Festival event, to one word: connection.

“Many times the audience feels like they know these dancers, because they’ve followed them on the different shows on TV, and seen them grow and change, and have maybe been cheering them on during the competition shows on TV,” she said. “By the time they come to the stage here, the audience has a familiarity with them.”

Tonight’s program is one of the most popular on the dance fest’s two-week lineup.

“It is one of the more popular performances, especially for locals,” said Julie Kapala, marketing manager for the Vail Valley Foundation. “Ticket sales are strong for Dance TV, but there are still great seats available.”

Swenson, a local television host on TV8, co-hosts tonight’s event with Erik Williams. It’s her third year hosting.

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“Dance TV has really become a popular and fun way to close down the festival. It’s a high-energy event,” she said.

It’s also the only festival event formatted with two emcees who ask the dancers questions and keep the show moving along, much like the popular shows like “Dancing with the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance” are structured.

“It makes it more interactive,” Swenson said.

A ‘party-like atmosphere’

Avon resident Julia Kozusko attends nearly all of the Dance Festival programs with her 14-year-old daughter, Serena, and has for years, but Dance TV is one of her favorites.

“I love them all, but this night is the most fun and has a party-like atmosphere,” she said. “Everyone is on their feet over and over. It is such a wonderful way to end the festival.”

Kozusko has watched “So You Think You Can Dance” since the show’s inception, she said.

“I love seeing my favorites come to my home town stage,” she said.

This year she’s looking forward to seeing Chehon Wespi-Tschopp dance, one of last season’s (season 9) winners of the show.

“My ballet dancing daughter and I were so excited he won because of his strong ballet training,” Kozusko said.

It’ll be Wespi-Tschopp’s first time dancing at the festival.

Born in Chicago and raised in Sydney, Australia, and Zurich, Switzerland, where his family lives now, Wespi-Tschopp began ballet at the age of 13 and when he was 14, he was offered a spot to train at The Royal Ballet School in London. He also trained at Elmhurst School for Dance in Birmingham, England, and joined the Los Angeles Ballet in 2007 where he performed for two seasons.

The lineup

On Friday, festival organizers announced a last-minute addition to the program: Teresa Espinosa, an Emmy-nominated choreographer and longtime dancer who has worked with big name stars like Janet Jackson, Britney Spears, Rihanna, Pink, Mariah Carey and Missy Elliot, to name only a few. This past summer she helped choreograph some of the actors in the movie “Magic Mike,” starring Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey as male strippers.

Also on the program are the Elektrolytes, the season 7 winner of “America’s Best Dance Crew”; the festival’s artists-in-residence Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild, of the New York City Ballet; Benji Schwimmer and Torri Smith (Schwimmer was the season 2 winner of “So You Think You Can Dance”). Anna Trebunskaya, who performed on “Dancing with the Stars,” returns, dancing with Dmitry Chaplin this year; and Jasmine Harper, from season 10 of “So You Think You Can Dance,” rounds out the lineup.

‘A little taste of everything’

Recent Battle Mountain High School graduate and local performing artist Meredith Steinke is just finishing up her third year interning for the festival. She said the evening’s program attracts a wide range of audience members.

“You just get a little taste of everything. It’s going to be a really fun, really contemporary show,” said Steinke who will head to Chicago College of the Performing Arts at Roosevelt University this fall, where she’ll study musical theater with a dance concentration.

It’s Cyrus Glitch Spencer, a season 9 runner up on “So You Think You Can Dance,” who Steinke is most excited to see, she said.

“Cyrus is just really exciting. This is his first time here, and I think people will be really excited to see him,” she said.

High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at and 970-748-2984.

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