Get UpClose with Vail International Dance Festival’s Damian Woetzel |

Get UpClose with Vail International Dance Festival’s Damian Woetzel

At this year's UpClose evening with the Vail International Dance Festival, Herman Cornejo will continue his examination of his title role in “Apollo,” which began last year at the festival.
Erin Baiano | Special to the Daily |

If you go …

What: UpClose: Vail’s Dance Festival with Damian Woetzel.

When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 3.

Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center, 68 Avondale Road, Beaver Creek.

Cost: $50 to $150 (fundraising evening).

More information: Visit

BEAVER CREEK — Today at 6:30 p.m., the Vail International Dance Festival invites audience members to UpClose: Vail’s Dance Festival with Damian Woetzel, an intimate, rehearsal-style performance that has become a signature evening hosted by Woetzel, the festival’s artistic director.

In honor of his 10th year as artistic director, Woetzel will welcome back previous festival artists-in-residence, from Lil Buck to Carla Korbes, for an up-close look at collaborative work and discovery and to witness the creative process of the festival’s most famed artists.

Woetzel created the UpClose series in his first season as director a decade ago, inspired by the legendary conductor Leonard Bernstein. In the late 1950s, Bernstein staged preview concerts, where the audience could watch the New York Philharmonic rehearse and listen to Bernstein coach and share insights into the music and the process of preparing the for the next night’s concert.

Enthusiastic response

These open rehearsals drew audiences close to the music, and similarly, Woetzel hopes to deepen UpClose attendees’ understanding and enthusiasm for dance and the artists they normally only see in formal performance.

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Woetzel has chosen various themes to focus on each year for these special UpClose events, highlighting historic choreographers, iconic ballets, dance luminaries and new works, among other topics.

“This year is different because we are simply focusing on the essential elements, which really are the artists themselves,” Woetzel said. “The best way to do that was to invite artists who have made Vail their home every summer for creative discovery and growth — the growing team of festival artists-in-residence, who commit themselves to spending an entire festival experimenting with new challenges.”

These artists include the electrifying couple Tiler Peck and Robbie Fairchild, who will rehearse a new staging of Jose Limon’s “Mazurkas,” set to music by Frederic Chopin, to be performed at the International Evening of Dance on Friday, Aug. 5. Additionally, Peck and Fairchild will work on a revival of an excerpt from Jerome Robbins’ “An Evening’s Waltzes” set to the dramatic waltzes of Sergei Prokofiev. The duet from “An Evening’s Waltzes” will be performed in full in the NOW: Premieres performance on Monday at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater.

Herman Cornejo will continue his examination of his title role in “Apollo,” which began last year at the festival. Korbes will dive into new terrain dancing Martha Graham’s revolutionary solo “Lamentation,” a moving “personification of grief itself,” in Graham’s words. Lil Buck, the Memphis jookin’ genius who recently finished his second tour with Madonna, will reveal new work accompanied by vocalist Kate Davis.

Isabella Boylston, this year’s artist-in-residence, will share her work on Robbins’ exposition of youthful naivety in “Afternoon of a Faun.” She will also dance Christopher Wheeldon’s deeply emotional ballet set to Dinah Washington’s “This Bitter Earth.” Cameron Grant, acclaimed principal pianist of the New York City Ballet, will accompany the UpClose performance.

Visit for more information, or follow the festival on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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