International dance fest debuts Scholar-in-Residence program
VAIL — The Vail International Dance Festival announces 16-year-old flamenco dancer, Elena Heiss, as the Festival’s inaugural Scholar-in-Residence, a program developed by Festival Artistic Director, Damian Woetzel, to offer promising young artist-scholars the opportunity to participate in the artistic and cultural life of the Vail International Dance Festival. The residency culminates in a performance by Heiss on the Festival stage tonight, during Dance for $20.14, a specially-priced performance held at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater at 7:30 p.m. As a performer at Dance for $20.14, Heiss will join the diversity of dances from ballet to Memphis jookin,’ along with feature performances by the powerhouse contemporary dance company, BalletX.
As the honoree of the program, New Mexico-resident Heiss will not only interact with acclaimed dancers and choreographers from around the world, but will also benefit from direct mentorship of a professional artist, which, this year, is New York City ballerina Tiler Peck.
“Our new Scholar-in-Residence program is built to bridge the world between advanced study in dance, and the professional level dancing in all genres that we enjoy at the Vail International Dance Festival,” Woetzel said. “As a young scholar, the dancer, in the final stages of training before embarking on a professional career, will be able to observe, interact and learn from the leading artists in the field over the course of the festival.”
Heiss, an honors student and junior at St. Pius X High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, began flamenco at the age of eight at the National Institute of Flamenco. During her tenure at NIF, she has won annual scholarships since 2006 and the Student of the Year Award at NF in 2013. Heiss has studied with internationally-acclaimed artists Nino de los Reyes, Sonia Olla and Ismael de la Rosa at the University of New Mexico in conjunction with NIF’s artist-in-residence program. She is currently in Alma Flamenca, which performs at various events around New Mexico, and has performed professionally with Yjastros: The American Flamenco Repertory Company in De Las Cenizas at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
“I’m very happy to have Elena as our first Scholar-in-Residence. She is a remarkable flamenco student, and we all look forward to having her with us at the Festival and seeing her perform as part of the Dance for $20.14 evening,” Woetzel said.