The Latest: Dance in the Mountains
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.”
Most people may know Derek Dunn for his impeccable turns and alluring onstage charisma. But the Boston Ballet principal dancer is just as charming offstage, whether he's playing with his 3-year-old miniature labradoodle or working in the studio. Dance Magazine recently spent the day with Dunn as he prepared for his debut as Albrecht in the company's upcoming run of Giselle.
You know compelling musicality when you see it. But how do you cultivate it? It's not as elusive as it might seem. Musicality, like any facet of dance, can be developed and honed over time—with dedicated, detailed practice. At its most fundamental, it's "respect for the music, that this is your partner," says Kate Linsley, academy principal of the School of Nashville Ballet.
Just four years ago, the University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance welcomed its first class of BFA students. The program—which boasts world-class faculty and a revolutionary approach to training focused on collaboration and hybridity—immediately established itself as one of the country's most prestigious and most innovative.
Now, the first graduating class is entering the dance field. Here, six of the 33 graduates share what they're doing post-grad, what made their experience at USC Kaufman so meaningful and how it prepared them for their next steps:
Notable dancer and beloved teacher, Ross Parkes, 79, passed away on August 5, 2019 in New York City. He was a founding faculty member at Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan, where he taught from 1984 to 2006. Lin Hwai-min, artistic director of Cloud Gate Dance Theater, said: "He nurtured two generations of dancers in Taiwan, and his legacy will continue."
About his dancing, Tonia Shimin, professor emerita at UC Santa Barbara and producer of Mary Anthony: A Life in Modern Dance, said this: "He was an exquisite, eloquent dancer who inhabited his roles completely."