Vail Dance Festival cancels in-person performances for 2020, plans to go digital during Festival window

Vail, Colo., May 14, 2020 — The Vail Valley Foundation today announced that the Vail Dance Festival will cancel all in-person performances for the 2020 season, a decision made in the interest of the safety and well-being of artists, staff and audiences due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Festival plans to present a digital festival of unique performances from past seasons during the intended time of the 2020 Festival, and preparations are under way for the return of live performances starting with opening night on July 30, 2021.

“We had hoped to be able to present some version of the Festival this summer, but with great reluctance have now concluded that it is simply not safe to do so,” said Vail Dance Festival Artistic Director Damian Woetzel. “The Vail Dance Festival is a place of intense collaboration among our artists, and we look forward to the creative energy that will be more powerful than ever when we are all able to be together again next summer.”

Woetzel said the Festival will unveil a digital event during the planned July 31-Aug 11 dates, which will include unique performances and commissions from past Vail seasons, as well as online forums and educational content featuring dance and music luminaries.

“It is difficult to think about not having the Festival this summer in Vail, but we will continue to connect through dance from a distance until we can gather again in person,” said Sarah Johnson, Vail Valley Foundation Senior Vice President for Education & the Arts. “We are committed to making decisions this year to protect the health and well-being of our community in the short-term while ensuring the future viability of this incredible Festival for years to come.”

The Vail Dance Festival relies on donations and ticket purchases to plan, produce and sustain the world-renowned Festival. In order to ensure this excellence returns in 2021, organizers ask that ticketholders consider donating their ticket purchase to the Vail Dance Festival, or credit the value of tickets to a purchase next season. Ticketholders also have the option to receive refunds. Donations will provide operational support and help ensure the future of the Vail Dance Festival.


Announcing Vail Dance Festival: Digital Edition

VAIL, Colo., July 7, 2020 –The Vail Valley Foundation’s Vail Dance Festival will present an all-digital edition of the Festival July 31 – August 7. This special online series of events will feature unique performances from the past 10 years including debuts and revivals that have only been seen in Vail, a world premiere choreographed by Bobbi Jene Smith made in, and for, the virtual space, plus a range of educational programming including Passing Balanchine On  with Heather Watts and Damian Woetzel, and Conversations On Dance with Rebecca King Ferraro and Michael Sean Breeden. The Festival will be available for a limited time on the Vail Dance Festival’s YouTube and Facebook channels. Visit for more information.


At Vail Dance Festival, a Season of Premieres and Ballet Stars

Calvin Royal III, the American Ballet Theater soloist who has had star turns in classics like Balanchine’s “Apollo,” will be the artist in residence at this year’s Vail Dance Festival, which was announced on Tuesday.

“It’s a leadership role of a sort,” Damian Woetzel, the festival’s artistic director, said in an interview. “Being an artist in residence is more than simply what you see on the stage. It’s got elements that I’m excited about for Calvin as an artist and as a leader.”

For Dancers, the Not-So-Lazy Days of Summer

For the last few years, the American Ballet Theater soloist Calvin Royal III, 30, has been on the cusp of stardom. Some of his most interesting challenges have actually come during the summers, in three stints at the Vail Dance Festival. This summer, he got his first stab at one of the most desirable roles of all: the lead in George Balanchine’s “Apollo,” a ballet about a young god in training, testing his powers. At Vail, he danced with Unity Phelan, a New York City Ballet soloist.

Alonzo King and Jason Moran Create a Dialogue of Movement and Music

When the Vail International Dance Festival proposed to Alonzo King that he choreograph a new work featuring four members of his San Francisco company, Lines Ballet, and four from New York City Ballet, he knew just what he needed: a partner. For Mr. King, that had to be the jazz pianist Jason Moran. This summer, as part of the Vail festival, which opens on July 26, the pair will present the premiere of their latest collaboration. So far, it doesn’t have a title.

Review: At Vail, Female Choreographers Feed the Mighty River of Dance

“Is the sociology of the dance world changing? The last two years have brought many more commissions for female choreographers.

English National Ballet made a splash in 2016 with an entire program of new choreography by women. And this year’s “NOW: Premieres” program at the Vail Dance Festival here was subtitled ‘Celebrating Women Choreographers.’ Does this sound like mere tokenism? It’s worth pointing out that all four of these female dance-makers — Michelle Dorrance (this year’s artist in residence), Lauren Lovette, Claudia Schreier and Pam Tanowitz — have worked at the festival before.”…

Where Dancers Shine Beyond Their Usual Specialties

“Since the two galalike signature events of the annual Vail Dance Festival were star-studded, it’s tempting to survey them just by dropping names. After all, on Friday here, Misty Copeland (never more mettlesome) and Marcelo Gomes (richly smoldering) danced Twyla Tharp’s “Sinatra Suite,” followed by Misa Kuranaga (lightly brilliant) and Herman Cornejo (panache itself) in the war horse “Don Quixote” pas de deux.

Saturday’s program ended with Tiler Peck dancing George Balanchine’s “Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux” with Jeffrey Cirio. Dazzling and charming artists both, they reached fresh peaks here; Ms. Peck (of New York City Ballet), in particular, has reached new zones of subtle artistry and breathtaking speed.”…

An All-Star Dance Gala Takes Risks and Soars

“The lineup was certainly dazzling: stars from City Ballet and American Ballet Theater but also some of the world’s greatest exponents of other forms, from modern (Matthew Rushing) to tango (Gabriel Missé) to kuchipudi (Shantala Shivalingappa) to Memphis jookin (Lil Buck). Yet what made the programs special was Mr. Woetzel’s way of balancing the surefire and crowd-pleasing with novelty and risk.”

Review: Hot Feet and Cool Bodies at Vail

“The path to the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater here in this Rocky Mountain resort town primes the ear with sounds of nature. But on Tuesday, it was the sound of shoes on wooden platforms that kept the audience rapt for nearly three-quarters of an hour.”

Vail Dance ReMix NYC – Review: From Balanchine to Jookin, a Sampler of Summer Souvenirs

“Damian Woetzel, impressively ambitious, has been making dance history for 10 years in Vail, Colo. As artistic director of the two-week Vail International Dance Festival, he assembles each August a top-class gathering of performers in multiple genres. No single program is performed twice. World premieres by front-rank choreographers (notably Alexei Ratmansky and Christopher Wheeldon) occur. So do unexpected partnerships between dancers from different companies and far-apart disciplines.”

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