Off the Hill with Tricia Swenson: Michelle Dorrance tap dancing into our hearts at Vail International Dance Festival
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At the Vail International Dance Festival you’ll find anything from ballet to ballroom dancing, but this year, the audience was treated to a bit more from the tap dancing genre thanks to Dorrance Dance.
Led by Michelle Dorrance, founder and artistic director, this American art form takes on many new shapes and sounds under her leadership and is gaining many new fans.
This may be the first time you’ve seen Michelle Dorrance perform, but she has been touring worldwide and has been featured in the New York City cast of the off-Broadway hit “STOMP” as well as the opening ceremonies to the Cannes Film Festival and 2002 Winter Olympic Games.
She even was on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” where she taught him the “half break,” which is the end of the “shim sham.” She must be a gifted teacher, or maybe Colbert has some hidden talents as a tap dancer, because they looked great demonstrating their syncopated rhythms on the “Late Show” stage.
She has performed and choreographed works all across the globe but is in awe of the caliber of dancers who are in Vail for the festival. The admiration is mutual. Dorrance and her crew had many opportunities to wow the crowds and earn the respect of other dance stars during several performances held throughout the festival.
One highlight was a world premiere of 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6 at the International Evenings of Dance II. Here, Michelle Dorrance led Memphis Jooker Lil Buck; New York City Ballet principal dancer Robert Fairchild; and Melissa Toogood, of Pam Tanowotz Dance. It was a performance that was heard as well as seen. It was amazing to watch them become “hoofers” after a few short practice sessions together, which is a testament to the professionalism found in the talent Damian Woetzel, the Vail International Dance Festival’s artistic director, brings to Vail.