Vail Dance Festival Returns In-Person for the 2021 Season July 30 – Aug. 9

Avon, Colo., Mar. 31, 2021 — The Vail Dance Festival today officially announced plans to return in-person for its 32nd season July 30 – Aug. 9, 2021. Under the artistic direction of Damian Woetzel, the 2021 summer season continues the Festival tradition of creating innovative opportunities for artists and audiences as it brings together dancers, musicians, composers, and choreographers for nine performances and numerous public events.

Highlights for 2021:
The 2021 Vail Dance 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.

The Festival brings together annually a cast of established artists and promising newcomers, and 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 absence, are New York City Ballet principal dancer Maria Kowroski who is in her final year with the company, and ballet and Broadway star Robbie Fairchild. The Scholar-In-Residence for 2021 is ballet dancer Philip Duclos, an advanced student at the School of American Ballet. Festival programming features these artists and many more in role debuts, new partnerships and new works, fulfilling the mission of providing new opportunities for artists at all stages of their careers.

This summer’s season will feature seven commissioned world premieres with choreography by Michelle DorranceLil Buck with Lauren Lovette, Justin PeckTiler PeckJamar RobertsCleo Parker Robinson, and James Whiteside. New music will be composed by Composer-in-Residence Caroline ShawChristina CourtinRhiannon Giddens, and Tyshawn Sorey. Shaw is working with Justin Peck for a premiere featuring Tiler Peck and Herman Cornejo; Courtin, Giddens and Sorey are creating pieces expressly for the violinist Johnny Gandelsman, and those solos will serve as the scores for new dances by Michelle Dorrance (Giddens), Lil Buck and Lauren Lovette (Courtin), and Jamar Roberts (Sorey). In addition to formal premieres, the Festival will continue to foster informal new collaborations in Vail’s lab-like environment. 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 extraordinary works from the New York City Ballet repertory. BalletX, Philadelphia’s premier contemporary ballet company, will return to Vail as Company-In-Residence with performances at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, as well as in a free performance at the nearby Avon Performance Pavilion at Nottingham Park. In addition to New York City Ballet MOVES and BalletX, appearing at the Festival 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.

Beyond its full-scale performance evenings, the 2021 season will feature numerous free Fringe Events including the Dancing in the Park performance in Avon, Colo., and the interactive Dancing in the Streets performances in Vail. Educational work will take place through master classes with Festival artists, and through YouthPower365’s Celebrate the Beat dance and music education camp which is provided to local children at no cost. Lectures and locally recorded episodes of the popular podcast Conversations on Dance round out the expanding ways that Festival artists interact with the public beyond the stage.

Organizers at the Vail Valley Foundation plan to provide ticketing in tiered waves due to potential changes in capacity limitations at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater. The donor pre-sale will begin at the end of April and the public on sale is currently scheduled for the end of May. The Festival will strictly adhere to all local and state public health guidelines throughout the event, and asks participants to be aware that adjustments to schedules and programming may occur, but will be communicated ahead of planned events and performances.

Vail Dance Festival 2021 Season*:

Opening Night
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.

NOW: Premieres 
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.

*Please note that the 2021 Vail Dance Festival schedule is subject to changes and additions

About the Vail Dance Festival

Established in 1989 and held each July-August, the Vail Dance Festival makes the Vail Valley one of the top summer dance destinations in the world. Hosted by the Vail Valley Foundation, and led by Artistic Director Damian Woetzel, the Vail Dance Festival brings a wide range of extraordinary dancers and musicians to Vail and features new works, collaborations, education initiatives, free community events, and a host of programs that welcome all to enjoy the world of dance. About the Vail Valley Foundation

The Vail Valley Foundation is a 501c3 Colorado nonprofit corporation with a mission to enhance the quality of life in the Vail Valley and showcase our community to a global audience through arts, athletics and education.

The organization’s work in education is through YouthPower365, a 501c3 Colorado nonprofit corporation with a mission to provide year-round extended learning opportunities that empower and educate the youth and families of Eagle County from cradle-to-career readiness. The Vail Valley Foundation also provides the Vail Valley with several of its most treasured annual events, such as the GoPro Mountain Games, the Xfinity Birds of Prey Audi FIS Ski World Cup races, the Vail Dance Festival, and the Hot Summer Nights and ShowDown Town free concert series’. The Vail Valley Foundation also manages and operates two performing arts centers, the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek Village and the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail, providing more than 100 Broadway, dance, comedy, classical, rock, pop, jazz, community and family events per year.

Vail Valley Foundation activities and events are in part made possible by cornerstone partners: the Town of Vail, Vail Resorts, Beaver Creek Resort Company, GMC, Nature Valley, Pacifico, and TIAA Bank. 

To learn more about the Vail Valley Foundation activities and events visit

 Media contact:

Kristen Dudding

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