Vail’s ‘Foothold’ in the dance world |

Vail’s ‘Foothold’ in the dance world

Sarah Mausolf
Vail, CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily/Joe Gato

You know dance. You love dance. And if you strike the occasional arabesque when you think no one’s looking ” you’re not alone. Tickets go on sale today at 11 a.m. on Monday for the 21st annual Vail International Dance Festival, starting the countdown to this summer’s extravaganza. Set for July 27 through Aug. 11, the dance fest brings together renowned dancers from around the world, allowing locals to bask in the hottest cultural offerings anywhere.

You might recognize some of the names in this summer’s line-up. Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company will return to Vail for its third year, and staples like the International Evenings of Dance and Ballroom’s Best remain firmly in place. But there’s plenty of new material, too. Dance fest director Damian Woetzel dished on this year’s trends.

Just like its home town, the Miami City Ballet is hot right now. The dancers made their Manhattan debut last month to serious critical acclaim. As one New York Times reviewer gushed, “To watch (Miami City Ballet) dance Balanchine is to see aspects of his choreography more clearly than with any other company today.”

Miami City Ballet founder Edward Villella hopes to keep that momentum going.

“We’re coming off a very, very exciting moment and we would like to bring some of that element to Vail,” he said.

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The company joins the dance fest line-up this summer, bringing George Balanchine classics like his 1934 “Serenade” and his 1946 “The Four Temperaments” to the amphitheater stage. Miami City Ballet is classical ballet (think pointe shoes) with a 21st century sensibility, Woetzel said. At once fun and jazzy, the ballet absorbs the mood of Miami as it breathes life into the classics, he said. At the helm of the company since 1986 is Villella, a former principal dancer with the New York City ballet. He’s widely cited as the most celebrated male dancer in America.

Watching dancers glide across the stage is one thing. Seeing them up close is another. This summer’s dance festival boosts the number of UpClose workshops from two to three. The seminars take an intimate look at dancers through conversations and demonstrations.

“The whole point of UpClose, really, is to give people footholds about the art form that they wouldn’t otherwise get,” Woetzel said.

Villella will be the subject of one UpClose. The workshop will explore some of the ballets Balanchine made for Villella, including “Rubies” and “Tarantella.”

“He’s a great American dancer who really revolutionized ballet in American,” Woetzel said.

Another workshop will focus on Wendy Whelan, a New York City Ballet principal and dancer in Morphoses.

“She is having this unmatched career,” Woetzel said. “She is still being choreographed on every year, with new pieces being made for her.”

Another UpClose will focus on tap legend Savion Glover.

Glover will open the dance festival with a rousing tap show. You might recognize the Newark, N.J. native from his performances on “Sesame Street,” the musical “Bring in da Noise/Bring in ‘da Funk” and the movie “Bamboozled.” He was even a dancer for the role of the penguin “Mumble” in “Happy Feet.”

“Savion is the greatest hoofer in the world,” Woetzel said.

Glover isn’t entirely new to the dance festival. He performed here in 2007.

“It was an unbelievable night, kind of like a rock concert,” Woetzel said.

An new context will shape the festival’s least expensive event. Last year, dance fest organizers launched “Dance for $20.08″ ” a mixed bag of dance with tickets ranging from $8 to roughly $20. This season, with layoffs and financial woes striking the Vail Valley, the cheap tickets are more relevant than ever before. “Dance for $20.09” continues the “for the people” concept, offering tickets for $9 to $20.09. A few examples from this year’s lineup include tap duo Buckets and Tap Shoes, swing dancer Todd Yannacone, contemporary dance troupe The Bakery, tango dancer Gabriel Misse and New York City Ballet dancer Tiler Peck.

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2938 or

Savion Glover with Bare Soundz and the Otherz

July 27 at 6:30 p.m.

Ford Amphitheater, Vail

$10 children/$17/$55/$75

UpClose: Savion Glover, Tap Genius

July 28 at 6:30 p.m.

Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek

$30 children/$45/$55

Miami City Ballet

Aug. 1 at 7:30 p.m.

Ford Amphitheater, Vail


Midsummer Night’s Dance Festival Highlights

Aug. 2 at 7:30 p.m.

Ford Amphitheater, Vail


UpClose: Edward Villella with Miami City Ballet

Aug. 3 at 6:30 p.m.

Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek


Dance for $20.09

Aug. 4 at 7:30 p.m.

Ford Amphitheater, Vail


Note: Tickets for this show go on sale this summer

UpClose: Wendy Whelan, Dancer and Muse

Aug. 6 at 6:30 p.m.

Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek


Morphoses 3.0

Aug. 7 at 7:30 p.m.

Ford Amphitheater, Vail


International Evenings of Dance I

Aug. 8 at 7:30 p.m.

Ford Amphitheater, Vail


International Evenings of Dance II

Aug. 9 at 7:30 p.m.

Ford Amphitheater, Vail


Ballroom’s Best

Aug. 10 at 7:30 p.m.

Ford Amphitheater, Vail


Bud Light Hot Summer Nights of Dance

Aug. 11 at 6:30 p.m.

Ford Amphitheater, Vail


More information: or 888-920-2787

Performance plus pass (lawn seating at the amphitheater with wine discount): $85

Student performance pass (lawn seating at the amphitheater with I.D.): $55

Center Stage Pass (premium seating at all shows with I.D.): $575

Student Center Stage Pass (premium seating at all shows with I.D.): $275

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