Saturday, February 19, 2011

Much to Look Forward to

The 2011 Vail International Dance Festival opens with New York City Ballet Moves' three unique programs—Opening Night, 21st Century Moves, and UpClose: The Male Dancer by Balanchine.

The launch of New York City Ballet's new touring troupe Moves ushers in new era of traveling for the legendary company, and I'm excited to see its extraordinary roster of dancers: principal dancers Jared Angle, Joaquin De Luz, Robert Fairchild, Sterling Hyltin, Tiler Peck, Amar Ramasar, Daniel Ulbricht and Wendy Whelan; soloists Adrian Danchig-Waring, Erica Pereira and Rebecca Krohn; and corps de ballet members Chase Finlay, Anthony Huxley, Lauren Lovette, Brittany Pollack and Taylor Stanley.

Tiler Peck returns to Vail with New York City Ballet Moves. She will also be featured in Dance for $20.11 and Dance TV. Years ago, I watched her take class at The School of American Ballet—I remember students from all levels of the school crowding near the studio’s doorway to get a glimpse of the charming, diminutive prodigy. Since then, Ms. Peck has quickly become one of the world’s most stunning performers, and over the past few summers, I have had the privilege of seeing her rehearse and perform at the Vail International Dance Festival. Her effortless technical brilliance, gorgeous phrasing, and natural theatrical quality combine to make each of her performances a transcendent experience. Here is footage of Tiler rehearsing with Damian Woetzel and Joaquin De Luz at last year’s festival.
The ever beautiful Wendy Whelan returns to Vail with New York City Ballet Moves and will be a featured artist in International Evenings of Dance I and International Evenings of Dance II. She alone is reason to attend these performances. Here is Wendy Whelan and Craig Hall captured in a breathtaking performance of Christopher Wheeldon's masterpiece After the Rain, which will be performed again this year in 21st Century Moves. Photo by Erin Baiano.

Joaquin De Luz returns to Vail with New York City Ballet Moves and will also appear in Dance for $20.11.  Last year, he gave captivating performances in pieces by Jerome Robbins and Larry Keigwin. Here he performs Jerome Robbins' A Suite of Chopin Dances at the 2010 VIDF. Photo by Erin Baiano.
The high-flying Daniel Ulbricht of New York City Ballet returns to Vail with New York City Ballet Moves. Here he performs Le Corsaire with Misa Kuranaga of Boston Ballet at the 2009 VIDF. 

Adrian Danchig-Waring returns to Vail with New York City Ballet Moves. Here he performs Christopher Wheeldon’s Mercurial Manoeuvres with Tiler Peck at the 2009 VIDF. Photo by Erin Baiano.
New York City Ballet Moves also gives us new dancers to look forward to, such as principal dancer Sterling Hyltin. The New York Times writes, "The larklike effusion of Ms. Hyltin’s dancing — so carefree, so heart-catching — combines impulsiveness and polish in marvelous ways." Here she is with Robert Fairchild in a recent performance of Duo Concertant at Lincoln Center. Choreography by George Balanchine (c) The George Balanchine Trust. Photo by Andrea Mohin/The New York Times.
Based on glowing reviews like this one of corps de ballet member Chase Finlay, we can look forward to memorable performances from all ranks of the troupe: "Mr. Finlay — who at Saturday’s matinee was yet more assured — is an outstanding hope for many leading roles: tall, with a long neck and handsome carriage; an attentive and capable partner; and a skilled dancer of beautifully stretched lines and gleaming precision" (The New York Times). Here is a recent portrait of New York City Ballet Moves' dancers Chase Finlay with Robert Fairchild by Bruce Weber for Vanity Fair.
Each of Moves’ performances will be unique (read: you want to see them all). Opening Night with New York City Ballet Moves features George Balanchine’s Duo Concertant, Jerome Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering, and Peter Martins’ A Fool for You set to the irresistible music of Ray Charles.  21st Century Moves with New York City Ballet Moves features recent masterworks: Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain and Polyphonia and Peter Martins’ Hallelujah Junction. There is no better place to see After the Rain performed than outdoors, against a fading silhouette of the Rockies, and I’ve never seen Hallelujah Junction, but have always loved John Adams’ score.

I am also excited for this year's two UpClose performances. The first—UpClose: The Male Dancer by Balanchine—will be hosted by Festival Artistic Director Damian Woetzel, New York City Ballet Ballet Master in Chief Peter Martins, and dancers of New York City Ballet Moves. The second—UpClose: Premieres—will present world premieres choreographed specially for Vail by five of today's most talented and promising choreographers: Christopher Wheeldon, Trey McIntyre, Emery LeCrone, Charles "Lil Buck" Riley, and Richard Siegal. The UpClose performances deepen the audience's appreciation of ballet via thoughtful conversation and carefully selected excerpts that perfectly illustrate the discussion points. Damian Woetzel and his guests expertly highlight the most exquisite movements, allowing the audience to witness beauty in moments we might otherwise miss.
Here is a photo from a past UpClose performance of Damian Woetzel in conversation with Artistic Director of Miami City Ballet Edward Villella. Photo by Erin Baiano.
Here is a photo from a past UpClose performance of choreographer Christopher Wheeldon speaking about a new work he created in Vail. Wheeldon highlights how gracefully Wendy Whelan’s hand falls to the floor, making the simplest movement exquisite. Photo by Erin Baiano.
Two other exemplary companies will perform in Vail this summer—the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Trey McIntyre Project. Mark Morris' choreography is highly musical and witty. Here’s a clip of the Mark Morris Dance Company. I cannot wait to see what they have in store for their special 30th Anniversary Celebration performance.
The Trey McIntyre Project will also perform at the 2011 VIDF. Trey McIntyre is one of today's most popular contemporary ballet choreographers, and he will present a world premiere at UpClose: Premieres. Here's a peek at his company.
I am particularly looking forward to seeing Mr. McIntyre's Arrantza, which has received critical acclaim.

Finally, the International Evenings of Dance I and International Evenings of Dance II once again bring together some of the world's greatest dancers for two distinct evenings of technical brilliance, virtuosity, and heartbreaking artistry. International Evenings dancers include Tyler Angle and Craig Hall of New York City Ballet, Thiago Bordin and Hélène Bouchet of the Hamburg Ballet, Misty Copeland of American Ballet Theatre, Misa Kuranaga of Boston Ballet, Argentine tango dancers Gabriel Missé and Natalia Hills, Fang-Yi Sheu of Fang-Yi Sheu & Artists Dance Company, Sokvannara Sar of the Suzanne Farrell Ballet, international artist Asha Thomas, freelance artist Matthew Prescott, and Wendy Whelan of New York City Ballet. Herman Cornejo of American Ballet Theatre returns to thrill us with scintillating jumps and expansive movement quality. Here is a clip of him performing "Giselle."
The breathtaking Gillian Murphy of American Ballet Theatre will perform in the International Evenings of Dance. Here is a clip of Ms. Murphy performing the "Black Swan Pas de Deux" at the 2009 VIDF.
The gorgeous Carla Körbes of Pacific Northwest Ballet will perform in the International Evenings of Dance. Here is a clip of her performing the "White Swan Pas de Deux" with Robert Fairchild at the 2010 VIDF.
I could go on and on about all the wonderful artists coming to Vail this summer, but better to see them all yourself—tickets for the 2011 Vail International Dance Festival go on sale Monday, February 21, 2011 at 11:00 a.m. MST. www.vaildance.org

—Caitlin

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