Festival Artists

“A magnificent cast of stellar dance artists from around the world takes the stage in these signature Festival performances.”
–The New York Times

Damian Woetzel

Damian Woetzel has taken on multiple roles in arts leadership since retiring from a 20-year career as Principal Dancer with New York City Ballet. Since 2007, Woetzel has been Director of the Vail International Dance Festival, which under his direction, has been widely-acclaimed for its innovation and growth as a nationally-recognized summer showcase for dance. In 2011, Woetzel was named the Director of Arts Programs for the Aspen Institute, where he creates programs aiming to further the value of the arts in society, focusing on education, economics, and cultural diplomacy. Woetzel is further active as a director and producer outside these roles.

Other recent projects include: Lil Buck @ Le Poisson Rouge, an award-winning show featuring Lil Buck, Yo-Yo Ma and an array of stellar musicians; an arts salute to Stephen Hawking at Lincoln Center; and the first performance of the White House Dance Series, which took place in the East Room of the White House and was hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama. Woetzel works with Yo-Yo Ma on his Silk Road Connect program in the New York City Public Schools, and on “Arts Strike” events which they have pioneered as a format for artists to engage in public service. In 2012, Woetzel co-produced the Kennedy Center Honors tribute to honoree Natalia Makarova, and for the 2014 Honors, he co-produced the salute to honoree Patricia McBride. In 2009, Woetzel became the founding director of the Jerome

Robbins Foundation’s New Essential Works (NEW) Program, which over a five-year period initiated grants to enable the production of 35 new dance works. In November 2015, Woetzel launched a multi-disciplinary new series entitled DEMO at Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center.

Woetzel was a Principal Dancer at New York City Ballet from 1989 until his retirement from the stage in 2008. At NYCB, he danced virtually the entire leading male dancer repertory, and had works created for him by Jerome Robbins, Eliot Feld, Twyla Tharp, Susan Stroman, and Christopher Wheeldon among others. Woetzel also frequently performed as a guest star with companies including the Kirov Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, and starred in numerous television broadcasts and as the Cavalier in the Time Warner movie version of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. Woetzel has also choreographed a number of ballets for NYCB and other companies.

Among his awards, in July 2012 Woetzel was honored with the inaugural Gene Kelly Legacy Award – an honor jointly created by the Dizzy Feet Foundation and the Estate of Gene Kelly in honor of the 100th anniversary of Kelly’s birth. Woetzel serves on the artists committee of the Kennedy Center Honors, the Knight Foundation’s National Arts Advisory Committee, and was a member of the Harvard University Task Force on the Arts. Woetzel holds an MPA degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. In the fall of 2010, he was a visiting lecturer at Harvard Law School where he co-taught a course on performing arts and the law. In November 2009, President Obama appointed Woetzel to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities where he has worked on creating the Turnaround Arts Program, which now brings arts education to some of the nation’s most challenged school districts. In April 2015, Woetzel received the Harvard Arts Medal.

Artist-In-Residence

Michelle Dorrance

Michelle Dorrance

2017 Artist-In-Residence, Michelle Dorrance is a New York based tap dancer, performer, choreographer, teacher and director. A 2015 MacArthur Fellow, 2014 Alpert Award winner, 2013 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award winner, 2012 Princess Grace Award Winner, and both a 2015 and 2011 Bessie Award Winner, Michelle is the Founder and Artistic Director of Dorrance Dance. She is “one of the most imaginative tap choreographers working today” (The New Yorker).

Scholar-In-Residence

Elena Heiss

Elena Heiss

A native of Albuquerque, NM, Elena Heiss, 19 years old, began flamenco dance training at the National Institute of Flamenco (NIF) at the age of eight. Elena was awarded a Princess Grace Foundation Scholarship in 2014 for Dance. She has performed solos at the Vail International Dance Festival, Damian Woetzel, Director, every year since 2014 and was the Inaugural Scholar-in-Residence with the Artist-in-Residence, Tiler Peck, in 2014. She performed solo at NYC’s City Center for the Vail Dance Festival ReMix NYC 2016.

She has collaborated with Lil’ Buck and Ron Myles at VIDF 2015 in ‘Ascending Bird. Elena performed at VIDF 2016 the solo choreography and World Premier “Zapateado” (Joaquín Rodrigo) choreographed by Valeriano Paños and Rafael Estévez, Estévez / Paños y Compañía (Madrid, Spain). She has also studied at the renowned flamenco school in Madrid, Amor de Dios.

Elena continues her flamenco training and studies at the University of New Mexico (UNM) in Albuquerque. In the last year, she has studied with Jesús Carmona, Adrián Santana, Iván Vargas, and Lucía Álvarez (La Piñona) through the Artist-in-Residence program at UNM’s Dance and Theater Department and NIF. She performs in Tablaos in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. She is an apprentice for Yjastros, The American Flamenco Repertory Company, under the direction of Joaquín Encinias and Marisol Encinias.

Scholar-In-Residence

Dario Natarelli

Dario Natarelli

Born in Vail, Dario Natarelli began his dance training at the age of four and he began intensive training in tap at the age of seven with the Colorado Chapter of the St. Louis Hoofers Club. Soon after, he moved to New York. He was awarded a full scholarship to The School at Jacob’s Pillow in 2014 and was named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts Candidate through YoungArts in 2016. Most recently, he made his off-Broadway debut in Tappin’ Thru Life. Dario graduated LaGuardia Arts High School in New York City as a Drama major and now attends Penn State University as a Musical Theater major.

Scholar-In-Residence

Phyouture

Phyouture

Memphis jooker Phyouture “Lil P” (Altavien Hart) made his Festival debut in 2016 with fellow jookers, Lil Buck, Ron “Prime Tyme” Myles and Keviorr “Tip Toe” Taylor in Dancing in the Streets and on the Dance for $20.16 program in the world premiere of WAIT.

Phyouture “Lil P” (pron. Future) returns as the 2017 Scholar-In-Residence, dancing with a variety of artists throughout the two weeks.

Meet the Performers

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