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Vail Dance 2017 Festival To Kick Off It's 29th Year 7/29-8/12

On July 29, the Vail Dance Festival kicks off its 29th year (July 29- August 12) with a season of new collaborations, artist debuts, and world premieres. Directed by former New York City Ballet star Damian Woetzel, the 2017 season will feature as Artist-In-Residence the tap dance innovator and MacArthur 'Genius' Grant recipient Michelle Dorrance, who will perform and collaborate with other Festival artists throughout the season. As part of her residency, Dorrance will anchor the Festival's annual night of world premieres, which this year will celebrate new work by women choreographers. The season also focuses on choreographer Jerome Robbins (1918-1998) and composer Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) in anticipation of their joint 2018 centennial anniversary. In honor of these two towering American artists, the Festival will feature their groundbreaking works on various performances; Robbins will be celebrated in the UpClose performance; a new work choreographed by Matthew Neenan and set to Mr. Bernstein's music will premiere on the International Evenings of Dance; and the Leonard Bernstein Composer-in-Residence program will launch with Pulitzer Prize winning composer Caroline Shaw in this new role.

"Collaborations by Jerome Robbins and Leonard Bernstein were a key part of my onstage career at NYCB, and these artistic giants remain a powerful inspiration for me," said festival director Damian Woetzel. "I am honored to be celebrating them and building on their work this summer."

Among new artists at the Festival will be Royal Ballet rising stars Francesca Hayward and Marcelino Sambé, who join such Festival regulars as Lil Buck, Misty Copeland, Robert Fairchild, Tiler Peck, and Melissa Toogood. The L.A. Dance Project makes its Festival debut, and companies returning to Vail include the Martha Graham Dance Company, BalletX, and Denver's Colorado Ballet. Musicians appearing include the string quartet Brooklyn Rider, singer and multi-instrumentalist Kate Davis, pianist Cameron Grant, the Breckenridge Music Festival Orchestra, and in a new Festival role of Conductor and Musical Director,Kurt Crowley, who is currently conducting Hamilton on Broadway.

Festival Highlights:

New Works by Women Choreographers:

Under Woetzel's direction for the past decade, the Festival has presented over 50 world premieres. For 2017, the NOW: Premieres performance will celebrate the work of female choreographers, with new commissions from New York City Ballet principal Lauren Lovette, neoclassical and contemporary ballet choreographer Claudia Schreier, acclaimed modern dance choreographer Pam Tanowitz, and tap dance revolutionary Michelle Dorrance.

Festival Artists and Companies:

New performers on Vail's International Evenings of Dance will include the rising Royal Ballet stars Francesca Hayward and Marcelino Sambé, Miami City Ballet's Patricia Delgado, and American Ballet Theatre's Marcelo Gomes, who join frequent Festival performers including Isabella Boylston, Misty Copeland, Carla Körbes, Misa Kuranaga, Lauren Lovette, Tiler Peck, Unity Phelan, Devon Teuscher, Melissa Toogood, Lil Buck, Jeffrey Cirio, Robert Fairchild, Calvin Royal III, Daniel Ulbricht, Jared Angle, James Whiteside, Ron Myles, and Joseph Gordon.

The Festival welcomes for the first-time Benjamin Millipied's L.A. Dance Project, who join other companies appearing at the Festival including Dorrance Dance, Philadelphia's BalletX, the Martha Graham Dance Company, and Denver's Colorado Ballet and Wonderbound companies.

Bernstein and Robbins:

Venerating the history of the arts in America has been a Festival mainstay, and in anticipation of the centennial years of both Leonard Bernstein and Jerome Robbins in 2018 the Festival will honor their legacy and impact through performances, residencies, and a commitment to new music for performances in Vail. Among the efforts under this mantle:

The 2017 Festival will focus its UpClose rehearsal-style performance on the work of Robbins, the ballet and Broadway choreographic genius.

The American Dance Classics performance, will present the Bernstein/Robbins breakthrough balletFancy Free, along with George Balanchine's first ballet made in America, Serenade.

Inspired by Maestro Bernstein's tremendous creative influence the Festival will launch the Leonard Bernstein Composer-in-Residence program, a new role to be inaugurated by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Caroline Shaw for 2017-2018. Shaw will attend the 2017 Festival where one of her existing works will be performed, in anticipation of a new composition for the 2018 Festival season. See below full description of this new role. *

Conductor and pianist Kurt Crowley, currently conductor of Broadway's Hamilton, will lead musical collaboration at the Festival as its new Conductor and Musical Director. Crowley debuted with the Festival in fall 2016 as conductor of Stravinsky's Apollo for the Vail Dance Festival ReMix season at NY City Center.

For the International Evenings of Dance, a new work will be choreographed by Matthew Neenan set to the music of Leonard Bernstein in anticipation of his centennial.


Live music plays an important part of many Festival performances. This year, the acclaimed Brooklyn Rider string quartet will return to Vail as Quartet-In-Residence, joining solo musicians including singer/multi-instrumentalist Kate Davis, pianist Cameron Grant, to perform alongside the dance on several evenings including the gala performances, International Evenings of Dance I & II and NOW: Premieres. The Breckinridge Music Festival Orchestra will appear at the Festival for the first time as part of the American Dance Classics performance.

*About the ?Leonard Bernstein Composer-in-Residence at the Vail Dance Festival

Recognizing the extraordinary impact of Leonard Bernstein, and in honor of the upcoming centennial year of his birth, the Festival has created a new position to integrate the composition of music into the structure of programming. The Composer-in-Residence will create a new piece of music to be choreographed and premiered at the festival, and will participate in programming that highlights the crucial partnership of music and dance. Existing work of the Composer-in-Residence will be featured in various programs throughout the festival. The inaugural composer-in-residence is the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw.

Vail Dance Festival Fan Club pre-sale ticketing begins Feb. 21 and the public on-sale date is Feb. 28.

Vail Dance Festival 2017 Season Schedule

Opening Night

Saturday, July 29, 7:30pm Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail

The 29th Vail Dance Festival kicks off with a unique opening night performance previewing highlights of the 2017 Festival. Headlined by tap dancer extraordinaire and Vail Artist-In-Residence Michelle Dorrance, the evening will also include audience favorite Lil Buck, NYC Ballet principal dancer and choreographer Lauren Lovette, live music from bass, piano and vocal phenomenon Kate Davis and a first look at the renowned contemporary ballet company L.A. Dance Project in advance of their main Festival show. This mixed-bill performance introduces the 2017 season, with a program ranging from tap improvisations and classic ballet, to street dance and groundbreaking contemporary works. "In quantity and quality...the Vail...Dance Festival is as awe-inspiring as this town's alpine scenery." -The New York Times

L.A. Dance Project

Sunday, July 30 7:30pm Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail

Vail welcomes L.A. Dance Project in its Festival company debut. L.A. Dance Project was founded in 2012 by former New York City Ballet principal dancer and choreographer, Benjamin Millipied. Over the past 5 years, this cutting-edge company has gained renown for creating new work and reviving seminal collaborations from influential dance makers. The New York Times raves, "The intelligence and eclectic generosity of the programming are not in doubt. The dancers prove attractive, impressive, versatile." Don't miss this exciting new company's only full evening performance at the Vail Dance Festival.

Dancing in the Park: Colorado Ballet

Monday, July 31, 5:30pm Avon Performance Pavilion, Nottingham Park

FREE Performance

The Festival welcomes back Colorado Ballet in a free family-friendly show on the extraordinary stage of the Avon Performance Pavilion at Nottingham Park. Colorado Ballet is known for its depth of repertory and versatility in artistry.

American Dance Classics: Jerome Robbins' Fancy Free & George Balanchine's Serenade*

Tuesday, August 1, 7:30pm Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail

This performance presents cornerstone works of American dance, performed by the extraordinary dance artists of today. American Dance Classics will open with Daniel Ulbricht, Marcelo Gomes and Robert Fairchild joining Tiler Peck, Gretchen Smith and Unity Phelan in Jerome Robbins' first work for American Ballet Theatre, Fancy Free. The evening's second half will feature George Balanchine's first American ballet, Serenade*, performed by Colorado Ballet and Festival guest artists. Live music throughout the evening will be performed by Breckenridge Music Festival conducted by Kurt Crowley, musical director of Broadway's Hamilton. (*Choreography by George Balanchine ©The George Balanchine Trust.)

UpClose: Jerome Robbins

Wednesday, August 2, 6:30pm Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek

An all-star cast celebrates the launch of legendary choreographer Jerome Robbins' centennial birthday year in a rehearsal-style performance hosted by Artistic Director Damian Woetzel, who worked closely with Robbins during his career at New York City Ballet. The evening will focus on Robbins' seminal works including Dances at a Gathering, The Cage, Afternoon of a Faun and the Leonard Bernstein collaborations West Side Story and Fancy Free. Elevate your evening by attending a pre-show reception in the May Gallery and post-performance dinner with the dancers at the Park Hyatt, Beaver Creek. (Tickets sold separately.)

International Evenings of Dance I & II

Friday, August 4 & Saturday, August 5, 7:30pm Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail

A magnificent cast of stellar dance artists from around the world takes the stage in these signature Festival performances. These two unique gala evenings of innovation and artistic collaboration include debuts and new partnerships by a selection of today's foremost dancers. "... at the Vail festival, it isn't the high altitude that's most dizzying. It's the high level of dance." -The New York Times

International Evenings artists to include:

American Ballet Theatre: Isabella Boylston, Misty Copeland, Marcelo Gomes, Calvin Royal III, Devon Teuscher, James Whiteside

The Royal Ballet: Francesca Hayward, Marcelino Sambé

New York City Ballet: Lauren Lovette, Tiler Peck, Unity Phelan, Jared Angle, Robert Fairchild, Cameron Dieck, Joseph Gordon, Roman Mejia

Pam Tanowitz Dance: Melissa Toogood

Miami City Ballet: Patricia Delgado

L.A. Dance Project: Carla Körbes

Artist-In-Residence Michelle Dorrance

Jookin' Dancers: Lil Buck, Ron "Prime Tyme" Myles

Flamenco Dancer: Elena Heiss

Musicians: Quartet-In-Residence Brooklyn Rider, Kate Davis, Cameron Grant, Kurt Crowley

NOW Premieres: Celebrating Women Choreographers

Monday, August 7, 7:30pm Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail

NOW: Premieres 2017 celebrates today's women choreographers with a collection of new works commissioned from renowned female choreographers and performed by a stellar cast of artists from ballet, modern and contemporary dance. The 2017 choreographers will include: New York City Ballet principal Lauren Lovette; neoclassical and contemporary ballet choreographer Claudia Schreier; Artist-In-Residence, MacArthur 'Genius' grant-recipient and founder of pioneering tap company Dorrance Dance, Michelle Dorrance; and acclaimed modern dance choreographer and founder of Pam Tanowitz Dance, Pam Tanowitz. Live music for the new works will be performed by musicians including Brooklyn Rider, Kate Davis, Cameron Grant and Kurt Crowley.

Dance for $20.17

Tuesday, August 8, 7:30pm Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail

A mixed-bill evening for everyone with guest artists from the 2017 Vail Dance Festival. Specially-priced $20.17 reserved seating and $10.17 lawn tickets go on sale Saturday, June 17. Join the Festival Fan Club for early access to all Festival tickets including Dance for $20.17!

Dorrance Dance 2017

Thursday, August 10, 6:30pm Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek

Dorrance Dance captured the hearts of Festival audiences with their 2016 Vail Dance Festival premiere appearance. Dorrance 2.0 finds this thrilling modern tap company in Beaver Creek's intimate Vilar Performing Arts Center in a special performance led by their founder and Vail's 2017 Artist-In-Residence, Michelle Dorrance, described by The New York Times as "...the most exciting and original choreographer in tap today."

Martha Graham Dance Company

Friday, August 11, 7:30pm Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail

The unparalleled Martha Graham Dance Company returns to the Festival in a program featuring Graham classics. The program will also present a world premiere Lamentation Variation created by Lil Buck in his first commission for a major dance company.

Closing Night Celebration with BalletX

Saturday, August 12, 7:30pm Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail

A celebration of song and dance featuring Vail favorites BalletX, performing their hit The Last Glass to music by Beirut, along with a newly commissioned piece choreographed by Jodie Gates to the music of Son Lux.

The Vail Dance Festival performances take place at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail and the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek. Vail Dance Festival Fan Club pre-sale tickets go on sale Feb. 21 and public on-sale begins Feb. 28.For more information on becoming a Fan Club member, call 970.777.2015. Visit for more information and follow the Festival on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

About Vail Dance Festival: The outdoor splendor of the Colorado Rocky Mountains is the backdrop each summer as the unique mountain town of Vail plays host to a collection of the world's finest dancers. Under the artistic direction of Damian Woetzel, the Vail Dance Festival has become renowned for its artistic excellence, unique programming, new works, and one-of-a-kind partnerships. Nearly 20-thousand people from around the world descend each summer on Vail, a vibrant cultural destination, for the Festival's two-week residence. The Festival's spirited atmosphere transforms the village into a culturally-rich environment that is inviting to dance aficionados and newcomers alike. In addition to regular performances, the Festival features robust community programming and education events, drawing on its roster of visiting artists, in addition to year-round personnel who focus on arts education in the Vail Valley. In the fall of 2016, the Vail Dance Festival presented for the first time a season outside of its Colorado-base, with a series of acclaimed performances at New York City Center entitled Vail Dance Festival: ReMix NYC. The Vail Dance Festival is a project of the Vail Valley Foundation, which since 1981 has fulfilled its mission to enhance and sustain the quality of life in the Vail Valley by providing leadership in arts, education and athletics. For more information, visit

(Photo Credit: Vail Dance Festival FB)

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