The first three nights of the Festival have been a feast for dance lovers. New York City Ballet MOVES made its worldwide debut at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater on Sunday night and presented three classic works from its unparalleled repertory: Jerome Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering, George Balanchine’s Duo Concertant, and Peter Martins’ A Fool For You. How lovely was it to see Dances performed outside, against the backdrop of the Gore Mountain Range? When Joaquin De Luz made his entrance, you felt the presence of the mountains through his eyes. Watching extraordinary ballet in an outdoor amphitheater adds a whole other dimension to the aesthetic experience—even the breeze had a magical effect on the girls’ chiffon dresses. And Robert Fairchild and Sterling Hyltin were stunning in Duo—the way Fairchild moves always makes me think of Gene Kelly gliding effortlessly across a movie screen. On Monday night, New York City Ballet MOVES presented 21st Century Moves, a night dedicated to works created exclusively in the 21st century. The evening was a testament to Artistic Director Damian Woetzel’s belief in the importance of new works. (The upcoming performance UpClose: Premieres will be an evening entirely dedicated to encouraging and fostering choreographers and is certainly a must-see.) New York City Ballet MOVES presented Christopher Wheeldon’s Polyphonia and After the Rain and Peter Martins’ Hallelujah Junction. All three pieces are exquisite, highly sophisticated, stunning works set to magnificent scores. And to see them performed by such extraordinary dancers! Hearts break whenever Wendy Whelan performs After the Rain. She moves with such intelligence, clarity, and lightness...when she appears onstage, she puts you in a spell and holds you there for the whole piece. Last night, Damian Woetzel and Peter Martins hosted a performance that focused on male roles created by George Balanchine. Woetzel and Martins talked downstage, dancers were clad in NYCB t-shirts and practice clothes, and you really felt “UpClose” in the intimate setting of the Vilar Performing Arts Center. The dancers performed solos, pas de deux, and group dances from an incredible number of the great ballets—Apollo, Agon, The Four Temperaments, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Harlequinade, Rubies, Duo Concertant, Square Dance, Mozartiana, Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, etc.—as Woetzel and Martins added discussion on the history of the works and stories of Balanchine. The evening was tribute to greatest choreographer of all time; a way for the men to express their gratitude to Balanchine for all this beautiful choreography. The men—Fairchild, Ulbricht, Ramasar, Hall, Huxley, Finlay, Stanley, Danchig-Waring—were fantastic. I was reminded that I love New York City Ballet dancers because they always take good care of the audience. Watching them never makes me nervous; they are always up for dancing with incredible alacrity, dynamics, energy, and feeling.
I am sad to see New York City Ballet MOVES leave Vail, but as they depart, we welcome another one of the world’s greatest companies. Yesterday, the staff greeted Mark Morris Dance Group to Vail, and we are all so excited for their 30th Anniversary performance tonight. Often referred to as “the Mozart of dance,” Mark Morris is known for choreographing highly musical works and is one of the greatest modern dance choreographers of all time. This performance is not to be missed—hope to see you at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater tonight!