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Put on your dancing shoes, Vail Valley

Lauren Glendenning
lglendenning@vaildaily.com
Vail, CO Colorado
Kristin Anderson/Vail DailyWendy Whelan and Craig T. Hall with Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company perform "After the Rain" during opening night of the Vail International Dance Festival at the Ford Amphitheater in Vail last year
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VAIL, Colorado –Tap-dancing isn’t a dance, it’s a song.

That’s what Savion Glover wants to show guests at the 2009 Vail International Dance Festival this summer – that closing your eyes means you’ll hear the music fly out of his dancing feet.

This year’s festival is stepping out from the norm – its schedule overlaps with the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, making this more of a “summer of the arts-type feeling,” said Damian Woetzel, the festival’s artistic director.



“One night you can see the greatest tap dancer in the world, and another night you’ll see the New York Philharmonic,” he said.

The festival covers the masterpieces to the new masterpieces, Woetzel said. From the greatest dances that have ever been created to the “hot-off-the-presses works,” people are going to see serious dancing in one of the most beautiful settings in the world.



“The variety is going to be quite phenomenal,” Woetzel said.

For those who have gone to the ballet since childhood to those who would rather sit at home with a beer and watch SportsCenter, there really is a dance for everyone this summer.

Glover kicks off the festival in a big way Monday, Woetzel said.



“Savion Glover has been kind of the leading force in tap-dancing since he was a kid,” Woetzel said. “He really is a force of nature – he’s an incredible dancer.”

Glover’s show is all about the sound, even more so than the actual sight of his dance. It’s a great show for someone who isn’t as interested in seeing tutu’s flying around the stage.

For those who do want the tutu’s, this is a big year for the festival. The Miami City Ballet is making its debut in Vail – a dance company that Woetzel is really excited about.

The Miami City Ballet is one of the largest ballet companies in the United States, with more than 40 dancers and an $11 million budget this year, according to the company’s Web site.

They will dance across the Ford Amphitheater’s stage performing masterpieces from what the festival’s program calls the 20th century’s greatest choreographer, George Balanchine.

Their debut performance, Aug. 1, is a Balanchine ballet originally designed to be performed outside.

The dancers are also scheduled to perform in the Festival Highlights Spectacular, a mix of dances from several of the festival’s performers, and there will also be an “Upclose” show with Edward Villella and the Miami City Ballet.

Upclose is a Vail International Dance Festival tradition where performers offer the audience a more intimate look into their worlds of dance. Upclose shows are done at the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek.

The Upclose shows are a way to see another side of the dancers, Woetzel said. You’ll see them sweating on stage in Vail and then you’ll see them in Beaver Creek doing on-stage rehearsals and explanations of each performers’ style of dance.

Glover plans to show and explain how he makes music and dance an inseparable part of his performances, Woetzel said.

“It’s a unique chance to see an American icon in action,” Woetzel said. “(Upclose) is really an interesting idea. We been building on the concept (throughout the years).”

Another exciting Upclose show is with Wendy Whelan, a dancer with Morphoses.

“She a great American ballerina at the height of her career,” he said. “She’s been coming to Vail number of years and we wanted to dedicate a whole evening to her and her impact on the dance world, which has been huge.”

Dancers come back to Vail year after year for the festival. The Morphoses dance company is in its third year as a resident company of the festival.

Woetzel loves watching Morphoses because it’s their first stop of the year, and they’re in town for the entire festival creating new works along the way.

“Last year we saw a work in process and now we’ll see the full thing, fully produced,” he said. “There’s that continuity factor that goes from year to year.”

One thing that never changes is the difficulty of adjusting to the altitude in Vail. Dancers arrive as early as they can and one of Woetzel’s main responsibilities is to make sure they’re comfortable, he said.

“The dancers are around (for the entire festival), and they just take over the town,” he said.


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