The Vail Dance Festival has announced plans to return in-person for its 32nd season running from 30 July 30 to 9 August 2021, with seven World Premiere Dances, four Commissioned Scores, the return to Vail of New York City Ballet MOVES, BalletX as Company-in-Residence, and American Ballet Theatre’s Calvin Royal III as Artist-in-Residence. The Vail Valley Foundation cancelled the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Vail Dance Festival was established in 1989 in the heart of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and has become one of the top summer dance destinations. Under the artistic direction of Damian Woetzel, the 2021 season offers innovative opportunities for artists and audiences, bringing together dancers, musicians, composers, and choreographers for nine performances and many public events.
The Festival will feature American Ballet Theatre’s Calvin Royal III as Festival Artist-In-Residence, which will see him taking on new challenges as a dancer, including the principal roles in new works choreographed for him by Tiler Peck and by Jamar Roberts.
Among the dancers scheduled to appear for the first time as individual artists are the New York City Ballet’s Mira Nadon and the tap dancer Byron Tittle. They will join returning artists including Isabella Boylston, Herman Cornejo, Michelle Dorrance, Lil Buck, Joseph Gordon, Lauren Lovette, Roman Mejia, Ron Myles, Dario Natarelli, Tiler Peck, Unity Phelan, Cory Stearns, Devon Teuscher, Melissa Toogood, James Whiteside and more to be announced. Returning to the Festival after several years of absence, are New York City Ballet principal dancer Maria Kowroski who is in her final year with the company, and ballet and Broadway star Robert Fairchild.
This summer’s season will feature seven commissioned world premieres with choreography by Michelle Dorrance, Lil Buck with Lauren Lovette, Justin Peck, Tiler Peck, Jamar Roberts, Cleo Parker Robinson, and James Whiteside. New music will be composed by Composer-in-Residence Caroline Shaw, Christina Courtin, Rhiannon Giddens, and Tyshawn Sorey. Musicians for the 2021 season will include the Festival’s Quartet-in-Residence Brooklyn Rider, pianist and music director Kurt Crowley, and singer/multi-instrumentalist Kate Davis. Beyond new works for 2021, revivals of past Festival commissions are planned including Tiler Peck’s 1000th Orange from 2019 danced by its original cast of Cornejo, Boylston, India Bradley, Mejia, Lovette, and Christopher Grant.
New York City Ballet launched its touring company MOVES at the 2011 Vail Dance Festival. Now, in 2021, New York City Ballet MOVES returns to Vail bringing works from the New York City Ballet repertory. BalletX, Philadelphia’s premier contemporary ballet company, will return to Vail as Company-In-Residence. Also appearing this year is Cleo Parker Robinson Dance which is celebrating its 50th anniversary season, and will present a world premiere by its founder Cleo Parker Robinson.
Organisers at the Vail Valley Foundation plan to provide ticketing in tiered waves due to potential changes in capacity limitations. The donor pre-sale will begin at the end of April and the public on-sale is currently scheduled for the end of May.
Vail Dance Festival 2021 Season
Friday, July 30, 7:30 p.m., Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater
The Festival begins with an evening featuring appearances by Festival stars including Artist-In-Residence Calvin Royal III, and in their return to Vail after almost a decade, New York City Ballet MOVES. The incomparable company will open the Festival with Jerome Robbins’ masterpiece Dances at a Gathering, embodying the spirit of reunion and renewal as we begin to gather again as a community of artists and audiences.
New York City Ballet MOVES
Saturday, July 31, 7:30 p.m., Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater
New York City Ballet MOVES in an evening of masterpieces. MOVES, the dynamic touring arm of New York City Ballet, shares the company’s incomparable repertory with audiences around the world. New York City Ballet MOVES will present George Balanchine’s expressive Sonatine set to music by Maurice Ravel, Jerome Robbins’ timeless In the Night set to nocturnes by Frederick Chopin, and Alexei Ratmansky’s acclaimed Pictures at an Exhibition to Modest Mussorgsky’s extraordinary music of the same title.
UpClose: Artist-In-Residence Calvin Royal III
Sunday, Aug. 1, 6 p.m., Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater
This first UpClose rehearsal-style performance for 2021 celebrates American Ballet Theatre principal dancer and Vail Dance Festival Artist-In-Residence Calvin Royal III. Hosted by Artistic Director Damian Woetzel, Royal will be joined by partners including Isabella Boylston, Unity Phelan, and Melissa Toogood, in repertory that will include works by George Balanchine, Merce Cunningham, and Christopher Wheeldon, as well as a first looks at the new ballets being created for Royal this season by Tiler Peck and Jamar Roberts.
BalletX: Sunset, o639 Hours
Monday, Aug. 2, 7:30 p.m. Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater
Following a sold-out performance at the 2015 Festival, Sunset o639 Hours returns to Vail for one night only. This critically acclaimed story ballet transports audiences through a poignant narrative of loss, longing, and resolution, through extraordinary choreography by Matthew Neenan, and music composed by Rosie Lanabeer, Andrew Mars & the Sunset Club, performed live onstage by a cabaret-style band.
Wednesday, Aug. 4, 6 p.m., Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater
In this rehearsal-style performance, audiences take a step into the dancers’ worlds through a unique behind-the-scenes look at how they prepare for International Evenings and NOW: Premieres performances. Upclose is hosted by Artistic Director, Damian Woetzel and features Festival luminaries.
Dancing in the Park with BalletX
Thursday, Aug. 5, 5:30 p.m., Avon Performance Pavilion at Nottingham Park
The Festival welcomes Company-In-Residence BalletX to Avon for a free, family-friendly performance on the outdoor stage of the Avon Performance Pavilion at Nottingham Park.
International Evenings of Dance I & II
Friday, Aug. 6, 7:30 p.m., Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater
Saturday, Aug. 7, 5 p.m. & 8 p.m., Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater
A brilliant cast of dancers and musicians takes the stage in these signature Festival performances. Celebrating artistic collaboration and innovation, these unique evenings feature new partnerships and role debuts by a selection of today’s premier dancers.
Monday, Aug. 9, 7:30 p.m., Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater
On closing night, the Festival will present an entire evening of new works choreographed by a selection of today’s most inspiring creative voices including Lil Buck with Lauren Lovette, Michelle Dorrance, Justin Peck, Tiler Peck, Jamar Roberts, Cleo Parker Robinson, and James Whiteside, with new music composed by Christina Courtin, Rhiannon Giddens, Caroline Shaw, and Tyshawn Sorey, performed by musicians including Quartet-In-Residence Brooklyn Rider.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.