Vail Dance Festival concludes with evening of world premieres

Closing night performance wraps up the Festival’s 35th season on August 7 with NOW: Premieres presenting new works in dance and music.

Artist-In-Residence Adji Cissoko rehearses with her cousin Youba Cissokho on a new work for NOW: Premieres at the Vail Dance Festival.
Christopher Duggan/Courtesy photo
If you go …
  • What: NOW: Premieres (Vail Dance Festival closing night)
  • When: Aug. 7, 7:30 p.m.
  • Where: Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail, and via live stream on YouTube
  • Cost: $30 - $160

The Vail Dance Festival concludes its 35th season on Monday, Aug. 7 with the closing night performance of NOW: Premieres. The evening will include nine new works of choreography made for the Festival and each making their world debut on the same night including works by Kyle Abraham, Melissa Toogood, Adji Cissoko, Caili Quan, Justin Peck, Jamar Roberts, Matthew Neenan, Larry Keigwin and Lil Buck. The performance will be live-streamed on the Festival’s YouTube channel as well.

In total, this year’s Festival commissioned 13 new dance works, some of which received their world premiere early in the season which began on July 28 and went on to include 12 performances and over 40 special events throughout the Vail Valley. New works this season included dances by Tiler Peck, ballroom duo Denys Drozdyuk and Antonina Skobina, Lil Buck and KJ Takahashi, and an additional work by Jamar Roberts.

Since his tenure began as Artistic Director of the Festival in 2006, Damian Woetzel has commissioned over 110 new dance works with a special emphasis on cross-genre collaboration and partnerships between world-class artists in dance and music, both emergent and established. As such, the new works presented at NOW: Premieres, and elsewhere throughout the Festival, continue to push the boundaries of the art form, further cementing Vail as a leading voice for new choreography in the United States.

Also, new music compositions from Gabriel Kahane, Festival Composer-in-Residence Caroline Shaw, and David K. Israel will receive their debut at this year’s NOW: Premieres performance.

Justin Peck rehearses a new work with Festival dancers for NOW: Premieres at the Vail Dance Festival.
Christopher Duggan/Courtesy photo

Casting and programming

Kyle Abraham debuts his first Vail Dance Festival commission in a work that features dancers from coast to coast and around the world including New York City Ballet’s Olivia Bell and Chun Wai Chan, Boston Ballet’s Jeffrey Cirio, Vail Dance Festival’s Artist-In-Residence Adji Cissoko of Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet’s Philip Duclos, Philadelphia Ballet’s Mayfield Myers, and Stephanie Terasaki of A.I.M. by Kyle Abraham. The new work will feature selected partitas for piano composed by J.S. Bach with Cameron Grant on piano.

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Artist-In-Residence Adji Cissoko will present a new solo work that she choreographed exploring her West African heritage and ancestry in the “griot” storytelling tradition. Adji’s cousin Youba Cissokho will play the kora, an ancient West African string instrument that has been used in their family for 73 generations.  

Larry Keigwin returns to the Festival with a new work that takes a playful peek into the backstage camaraderie of dancers with the music of Donna Summer as their soundtrack. The dance for three will include Royal Danish Ballet’s Philip Duclos, Vail Dance Festival Scholar-In-Residence Spencer Lenain, and New York City Ballet’s K.J. Takahashi.

Following a celebrated Festival debut last year, acclaimed bass/baritone singer Davóne Tines returns to Vail in a new work choreographed and danced by Lil Buck with Tines singing an original hymn by Albert Brumley adapted by Leonard Bernstein Composer-In-Residence Caroline Shaw and arranged by THE TRUTH.

Also following a Festival debut last year, Colorado’s newest contemporary dance company DanceAspen will present a new work by Matthew Neenan with Quartet-In-Residence Brooklyn Rider playing the music of Osvaldo Goljov.

Justin Peck and Caroline Shaw continue their made-in-Vail partnership collaborating on a new work featuring a Vail Dance Festival commissioned score composed by Shaw and featuring American Ballet Theatre’s Isabella Boylston and James Whiteside, former Miami City Ballet dancer Patricia Delgado, former New York City Ballet dancers Robbie Fairchild and Lauren Lovette, and former BalletX dancer Caili Quan.

In addition to dancing in new work this year, Caili Quan also will present her fourth new dance for the Festival, this time featuring New York City Ballet’s Oliva Bell and Unity Phelan alongside American Ballet Theatre’s Calvin Royal III dancing to a new score by Gabriel Kahane commissioned by the Vail Dance Festival and played by Quartet-In-Residence Brooklyn Rider.

Jamar Roberts will present his second work for the Festival in a piece for BalletX with music by Philip Glass played by Brooklyn Rider and Michael Scales on piano.

Melissa Toogood will debut her first work for the Festival with a new music composition by David K. Israel making its world premiere played by Brooklyn Rider and pianist Joel Wenhardt featuring Toogood dancing alongside New York City Ballet’s India Bradley, Sara Mearns, and Miriam Miller.

Tickets may be purchased online or through the box office by phone at 970.845.TIXS (8497). For more information, visit  

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