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Getting on point

Shauna Farnell
Maisie Crow/Vail Daily A ballerina tapes her toes before putting on her shoes Thursday at the Inaki Ballet Concierto dance rehersal.
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VAIL – There are a few things people don’t typically associate with ski towns – skyscrapers, sewers, blaring horns, international ballet performances ….Vail has found a place for the latter in the form of the International Dance Festival, which, for the last 12 years, has brought in some of the finest specimens of classical and contemporary performers and choreographers from across the globe. It has shaped itself as one of the valley’s premiere summer events.”I travel around in dance circles all over,” said Katharine C. Kersten, producing artistic director of the Vail International Dance Festival for the last 12 years. “We’re very highly recognized by dance professionals around the world. They have a very high regard for our festival. It’s a small world, like the skating world or the football world – everyone seems to know each other. And they all know about the dance festival in Vail.”Kersten, a professional dancer since the age of 16, hand picks the rising stars from the dance world and places them in the dance festival lineup.This year’s festival opens on Saturday with a performance from Inaki Urlezaga’s Ballet Concierto. Urlezaga, of the Royal Ballet of London, and Tamara Rojo, considered one of the most talented ballerinas in the world, will perform acts from “Don Quixote,” just in time for the original story’s 400th anniversary. Urlezaga’s performances at Vail will be his only U.S. performances on this tour.”These are some of the very greatest names in classical dance,” Kersten said. “I’ve been trying to get Tamara Rojo to Vail for the last four years. It took getting together with Inaki and the Ballet of London. It was the perfect opportunity to bring her in.”On Sunday and Tuesday evening, the festival offers Different Dimensions, a new program that features three different dance companies in each performance. Sunday’s lineup features classical fare, including Trey McIntyre Project performing Dvorak’s “Serenade for Strings,” a re-staged version of “Grand Pas de Quatre” by Ballet Rosario Suarez and Inakai Ballet Concierto returns again with the musical satire of “Apolo y Sus Tias.”On Tuesday, the Dimensions take a turn towards the contemporary with samplings from Bacchus and Vivaldi by Nandanse, an ensemble of Chicago-based soloists from the Joffrey Ballet Chicago and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Dominic Walsh Dance Theater will then perform “Katharsis,” a choreographed tale of an artist who is confronted by his own creation. The evening will wrap up with Smuin Ballet’s tribute to Frank Sinatra, “Fly Me to the Moon,” which fuses classical ballet with contemporary dance moves.Wednesday’s performances features the Colorado Ballet with a world premiere by up-and-coming choreographer Jessica Lang, who has created pieces for New York City Ballet, Julliard, American Ballet Theater and for BMW International Industrials, to name a few.

“Every year, we commission a new work,” Kersten said. “Jessica is on the fast track to stardom. She’s a choreographer in demand.”Friday, Aug. 5, and Saturday Aug. 6, will feature a festival favorite, the International Evenings of Dance, consisting of dramatic performances from some of the most talented dance couples in the world. The performers this year truly represent different corners of the globe with the Royal Ballet of London and English National Ballet, the Hong Kong Ballet, the Ballet Theatro Municipal from Rio de Janeiro, exclusive performances with Rojo and Urlezaga and then with Caroline Gaier and Urlezaga on Friday only, and French performers from Les Ballets de Monte Carlo.The festival wraps up Sunday, Aug. 7, with a free performance by all-male, hip hop, street-dancing ensemble FLY Dance Company. The group is choreographed by Kathy Wood.A history of awe-inspiring motion Kersten said she begins booking performers two years in advance for the festival, whose foundation emerged in 1989 with a world-renown Russian ballet group. The Vail Valley Foundation invited the Bolshoi Ballet to perform in the summer of that year following the World Alpine Championships.”The contacts we established then brought us an opportunity with the Bolshoi Ballet,” said John Dakin of the Vail Valley Foundation. “During the initial years of the Bolshoi Academy, the audiences were primarily local and Denver-based, but there was an incredible embracing of the academy. I remember when they were in their buses to leave, there were people who drove up to the top of Vail Pass to wave good-bye and when they came in, school kids lined up at the four-way stop in Vail with welcome banners. From there, the festival grew by leaps and bounds. That audience base has expanded to include people from across the U.S. – people who are now coming here for the dance festival. Now that it is 17, 18 years old, it has developed its own following. You saw more companies from around the globe, more couples from around the globe being introduced. The international evenings were created. Katharine took the seed the Foundation planted, and I think the dance festival has opened up the valley to a different audience, both literally and figuratively. It’s an event that spans the social strata. It’s not just an audience that’s comprised of dance aficionados. It appeals to a wide range of people.” Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or sfarnell@vaildaily.com.

7: 30 p.m. Saturday Inaki & Ballet ConciertoTamara Rojo and Inaki Urlezaga,Principal Dancers with the Royal Ballet of Londonjoin Ballet Concierto of Buenos Aires, Argentina7:30 p.m. SundayDifferent DimensionsClassic & Neoclassic Repertory



Trey McIntyre Project, Ballet Rosario Suarez, Inaki Ballet Concierto 7:30 p.m. TuesdayDifferent DimensionsContemporary & Theatrical Repertory Nandanse, Dominic Walsh Dance Theater, Smuin Ballet 7:30 p.m. WednesdayColorado Ballet

World Premiere by Jessica Lang6 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5 and Saturday, Aug. 6International Evenings of DanceViacheslav Samodurov, principal dancer with Royal Ballet of London, and Agnes Oaks, principal with English National Ballet Faye Leung with Zhang Yao, principals with Hong Kong BalletPaloma Herrera with Marcelo Gomes, principals with American Ballet TheaterRene Salazar with Christiane Quintan, with Ballet Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro, BrazilTamara Rojo with Inaki Urlezaga, principals with Royal Ballet of London & Ballet Concierto, Buenos Aires (Friday performance only)Caroline Gaier with Inaki Urlezaga (Friday performance only)

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.



April Ball with Jens Weber of Les Ballets de Monte CarloSharon Wehner with Koichi Kubo of Colorado Ballet (Saturday performance only)3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 7FLY Dance CompanySpins & rolls – Hip Hop goesContemporary and Classic!Complementary PerformanceVail Colorado


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