International Evenings of Dance continue in Vail |

International Evenings of Dance continue in Vail

Daily Staff Report
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily/Bill Cooper

VAIL ” Standing in the middle of the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater stage the afternoon prior to the start of the 2008 Vail International Dance Festival, Artistic Director Damian Woetzel mentally measured the vinyl-covered dance surface.

“Igor’s going to run out of room,” he said to no one in particular.

Woetzel was referring to the Kirov Ballet’s Igor Zelensky, one of 17 stars from around the globe that have descended on the Vail Valley to comprise the all star lineup for Saturday’s International Evenings of Dance program at the Ford Amphitheater in Vail.

The latest in a prodigious line of powerful Russian ballet dancers to come to the Vail for the summer festival, wowing audiences with their athletic leaps, spins and twirls, Zelensky has already covered a lot of ground.

At the age of 15, he began to suffer from exhaustion, attempting to balance an up-and-coming competitive track career and the physical demands of ballet. The dilemma became one of the 400-meters versus the pas de deux.

“Yes, I was a good runner,” Zelensky said. “But they have even shorter careers than mine.”

Enter his mother, Galina, the person who encouraged young Igor to take up dancing when he was 12. Standing at the crossroads of his career, she again pointed him in the direction of the arts. From that point on, Zelensky dedicated himself to becoming the best dancer he could possibly be, dancing up to eight hours a day.

The athletic mentality is still very much present, through.

“Our business is very, very difficult,” Zelensky said. “You know, it’s a really hard job. You have to be athletic, you have to be an athlete, you have to be this, you have to be that. These days, you don’t just want to do the tricks on stage, you have to be athletic. But you also have to be an actor and take care of yourself.”

His fate and future were in the hands of others in 2001, though, as his career almost came to an abrupt end when a herniated disc required two operations and six months of lying flat in bed. It was not certain that he would ever dance again.

“For six months I couldn’t move,” Zelensky recalled. “and I thought how I would react if someone now wanted to give me my own company ” gave me the chance to be a director. But I still had a chance to be a dancer.”

He came back with a vengeance and is now regarded as one of the best male dancers in the world today. While the Ford Amphitheater stage may contain Zelensky’s stride, it will certainly not restrain his passion for his art form.

“We have an expression in Russia,” he added. “If you are not moving forward every day by a step, you’re going back two steps.”

Joining Zelensky for Saturday’s International Evenings of Dance will be Linda Celeste Sims and Matthew Rushing of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Misa Kuranaga of Boston Ballet; Ashley Bouder, Craig Hall, Tiler Peck, Daniel Ulbricht and Wendy Whelan of New York City Ballet; Carla Korbes and Batkhurel Bold of Pacific Northwest Ballet; Leanne Benjamin and Edward Watson of the Royal Ballet and Adrian Danchig-Waring, Jason Fowler and Tyler Angle of Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company.

As a special treat for International Evening patrons, Vail International Dance Festival Director Damian Woetzel, recently retired from New York City Ballet, will also perform.

In addition to the International Evenings of Dance, individual tickets for the remaining performances of the 2008 Vail International Dance Festival are priced from $8 to $85, with an array of ticket packages also available. The 2008 Vail International Dance Festival runs through Aug. 9, with performances at both the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail and the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek.

The 2008 Vail International Dance Festival is a project of the Vail Valley Foundation. For additional information on the Dance Festival, visit or call 970-949-1999.

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