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By Ashley Rivers
This summer's Vail International Dance Festival features the biggest stars in dance.
Lil Buck and Tiler Peck at Vail 2013. Photo by Erin Baiano, Courtesy Vail.
Since Damian Woetzel took over Colorado’s Vail International Dance Festival in 2007, audiences have come to expect novelty: diverse styles of dance, collaborations between of-the-moment stars and re-envisioned classic works with unusual casting. The 2014 festival, which takes place from July 27–August 9, is even more high-profile than previous years. It will showcase some of dance’s most in-demand artists, including New York City Ballet’s Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild, Charles “Lil Buck” Riley and American Ballet Theatre’s Herman Cornejo, Vail’s artist in residence this year. “The idea of collaboration is central. What happens when two worlds collide?” says Woetzel. “The works themselves are brought alive in new ways by having new people dance them. It’s a unique experience for the artists and the audience.”
Woetzel’s approach is one of many reasons why performers look forward to spending a portion of their off season, up to two weeks, in Vail, year after year. “It’s like an exchange program,” says Pacific Northwest Ballet principal Carla Körbes, who will dance at the festival this year for her seventh time, in a work by Brian Brooks. “You learn about other companies in a more in-depth way, and they learn about you.”
This summer, as usual, the dancers will take on unconventional repertoire: Peck, Fairchild and Cornejo will perform a new version of Martha Graham’s Letter to the World (1940), with the Martha Graham Dance Company. Cornejo will also make his “Rubies” debut alongside Peck in the ballet’s leading roles, with Pennsylvania Ballet dancing the corps. Other highlights include the Royal Ballet’s Beatriz Stix-Brunell, Lauren Cuthbertson and Matthew Golding; crewmates Lil Buck and Ron “Prime Tyme” Myles; and a TV evening with “Dancing with the Stars” pro Anna Trebunskaya and “So You Think You Can Dance” alums Alex Wong, Amy Yakima and Du-Shaunt “Fik-Shun” Stegall. In choosing the pieces for each evening, Woetzel says, “it’s a real matter of stretching the work and highlighting how dancers in the 21st century adapt to different challenges. We’re showing the range of what dance can be today.”