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A preliminary schedule has been posted for the Vail Dance Festival July 26-August 10, 2019, although it appears much has yet to be announced:

https://vaildance.org/events/

Lauren Lovette and Tiler Peck will be there, as will at least some dancers from ABT. Tickets go on sale to the public March 5.

 

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Vail Dance finally posted the dancers and repertoire for the two International Evenings of Dance:

Friday, August 2: https://vaildance.org/event/ie-1-2019/

Featured artists to include:
Alina Cojocaru, English National Ballet
Calvin Royal III, American Ballet Theatre
Catherine Hurlin, American Ballet Theatre
Lil Buck, Memphis Jooker
Cory Stearns, American Ballet Theatre
Dario Natarelli, Tap Dancer
Devon Teuscher, American Ballet Theatre
Herman Cornejo, American Ballet Theatre
India Bradley, New York City Ballet
Isabella Boylston, American Ballet Theatre
Jacqueline Green, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Jared Angle, New York City Ballet
Joseph Gordon, New York City Ballet
Julian MacKay, Mikhailovsky Ballet Company
Kennard Henson, New York City Ballet
Lauren Lovette, New York City Ballet
Maria Kochetkova
Melissa Toogood, Pam Tanowitz Dance
Michelle Dorrance, Dorrance Dance
Miriam Miller, New York City Ballet
Preston Chamblee, New York City Ballet
Roman Mejia, New York City Ballet
Savannah Green
Unity Phelan, New York City Ballet

Live musical accompaniment with Brooklyn Rider.

Saturday, August 3https://vaildance.org/event/ie-2-2019/

Featured artists to include:
Alina Cojocaru, English National Ballet
Adji Cissoko, Alonzo King LINES Ballet
Calvin Royal III, American Ballet Theatre
Lil Buck, Memphis Jooker
Cory Stearns, American Ballet Theatre
Christopher Grant, New York City Ballet
Dario Natarelli, Tap Dancer
Devon Teuscher, American Ballet Theatre
Herman Cornejo, American Ballet Theatre
India Bradley, New York City Ballet
Isabella Boylston, American Ballet Theatre
Jacqueline Green, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Jared Angle, New York City Ballet
Joseph Gordon, New York City Ballet
Julian MacKay, Mikhailovsky Ballet Company
Kennard Henson, New York City Ballet
Lauren Lovette, New York City Ballet
Madeline DeVries, Alonzo King LINES Ballet
Maria Kochetkova
Melissa Toogood, Pam Tanowitz Dance
Michael Montgomery, Alonzo King LINES Ballet
Michelle Dorrance, Dorrance Dance
Miriam Miller, New York City Ballet
Naomi Funaki, Tap Dancer
Preston Chamblee, 
New York City Ballet
Roman Mejia, New York City Ballet
Shuaib Elhassan, Alonzo King LINES Ballet
Unity Phelan, New York City Ballet

Live musical accompaniment with Brooklyn Rider.

To get good seats, you have to purchase months ahead of these announcements. Fortunately, they normally come up with good stuff. 

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Someday I'll manage to get there!

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I ventured back to the Vail Festival this weekend, the first time I've visited since 2010 (!). I attended the two "International Evenings of Dance" and just want to note some highlights -- dancers and roles I'd like to see again and some I won't bother with.

  • Alina Cojocaru and Herman Cornejo: They did Ashton's Rhapsody on Friday and MacMillan's balcony PdD from Romeo and Juliet on Saturday. What a gorgeous pairing. The chemistry was intense, moving, and just unimaginably beautiful. I would love to see her again at ABT (although that would mean evicting a local principal, I know). Perhaps he could do some guest work at ENB? Worth a trip to London, for sure!
  • Joseph Gordon: I've been a fan since I saw him do Coppelia with Ashley Bouder a few years ago. He was wonderful in the Giselle PdD with Lauren Lovette, who was also stunning. They had a very slight bobble when he kneeled in the wrong place before her bouree to lean on him, but otherwise they looked liked seasoned pros in these roles. He partnered Maria Kochetkova in La Sylphide on Saturday. It was no surprise, as a Balanchine-trained dancer, that his Bournonville technique is gorgeous. 
  • James Whiteside: This was a great weekend for him. On Friday, he led a huge group of young children in the opening number. On Saturday he did the complete Duo Concertant with Lovette.  Pianist and violinist were on stage for this one, as they would be in the State Theater. What a treat! And they got the lighting right, even in that odd outdoor amphitheater, to show her face and stretched arm alone in the final moments. Then Whiteside returned for the final number 1.2.3.4.5.6 by Woetzel and Dorrance -- first with a sizzling combination of mind-boggling chainee turns in ballet shoes and then with tap shoes. I have a new appreciation for him after seeing his Deuce Coupe at the Met this spring. His personality and energy go a long way in a variety of works and his technique is very strong.
  • Roman Mejia: This 19-year-old from NYCB was hot all weekend. He did Ratmansky's Fandango to close the program Friday; originally choreographed for Wendy Whelan, it was modified slightly for him. On Saturday, he was one of eight cast members in the premiere of Alonzo King's The Personal Element. This might be one ballet that is performed again somewhere else. (At the opening announcement for the evening, we learned that Vail has hosted 83 premieres, but they didn't say how many have been performed again elsewhere.)
  • Jacqueline Green: She did two of the old Judith Jamison roles, Pas de Duke and Cry, by Alvin Ailey. Powerful, and a wistful reminder of the glory days of that company.
  • Cunningham/Cage: It was interesting to see two of his pieces, Duet from Trails (Melissa Toogood and Calvin Royal III) and Solo from Antic Meet (Toogood). Another salute to a history mostly gone now and some nice variation from the classical ballet on the program.
  • Tap dancing: Michelle Dorance performed both nights with Lil Buck. Adds some variation in a program of mostly classical brief excerpts. Not my favorites.
  • Disappointments: 
    • Catherine Hurlin and Julian MacKay opened Friday's program with the Don Q PdD. He slipped and took a bad fall on his first variation and it seemed to spook both of them. She knocked out the fouettes, but both seemed to be holding back throughout. At the time, I thought, well, maybe it's the altitude. I know she's been spotted as somebody to watch. I'll have to watch her at sea level to decide for myself.
    • Maria Kochetkova: Although her Sylph was lovely on Saturday, she did a writhing, floor-crawling, contortionist solo with dim lighting on Friday that was a big bore (DeGunino by Marcos Morau). I think this was her first visit to Vail and she posted rehearsal video complaining about the 8K+ altitude with a soundtrack of heavy panting.
    • Flower Festival in Genzano: Isabella Boylston and Julian MacKay seemed to enjoy doing this, but it didn't have the sparkle it needed to wow the audience.
    • Excerpts from great ballets: These just don't always work well in this setting.  Isabella Boylston and Cory Stearns did a credible PdD from the Act I Bedroom scene in Manon, but without the build-up or set it fell flat. Calvin Royal III and Unity Phelan did a brief excerpt from Apollo. Credible, but not very convincing.
    • Devon Teuscher and Cory Stearns did Todd Bolender's The Still Point to Debussy. Sorry, but this was another big bore.
  • Music: They did use some recorded music, a necessity in this kind of setting, but I was impressed at how often they were able to opt for live music. A wonderful string quartet (Brooklyn Rider) accompanied several pieces and piano, violin and/or viola were used for several other pieces.
  • Vail: One big reason I've avoided this festival for so many years (and am unlikely to return any time soon) is just the enormous hassle of getting to and from Vail for the weekend! I live in Denver and whether you're driving in a car or, now, on the state's new Bustang bus service, you're trapped for 4 hours on the I-70 traffic, which is bumper-to-bumper crawl much of the trip both ways. The state knows it has a problem and there are hopes for re-opening train service from Denver to some of the nearby ski resorts this winter, but that will be limited. The Bustang service is an attempt to get cars off the road. But there aren't many options. There's no feasible way to widen I-70 on those mountain passes and there just isn't a viable alternate route.  It's easier and less stressful for me to just fly to NYC, DC, SF, or LA, frankly, to see great dancing. The altitude is an issue for everybody, even though I am acclimated at 5K+ in Denver. You do need to take it easy, drink a lot of water and (for me) lots of aspirin to stave off the altitude headaches. It must be brutal on the dancers and some adjust better than others.
  • Vail Festival: I was very glad to see that the Festival organizers have made some big improvements in recent years, which got my attention. E.g., their friends program now lets you plunk down a mere $200 donation and get advanced access to single tickets, plus access to open rehearsals in the amphitheater in the afternoon 1-4. And you can bring in lunch during the rehearsal! For those of us who have seen enough of the tourist-y shopping and aren't interested in golf or tennis or hiking during the day, this was a really welcome option.

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A little rehearsal footage from Instagram of Cornejo and Cojocaru in Romeo and Juliet

 

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A nice clip of Mejia in Fandango Friday night:

 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, California said:
  • Cunningham/Cage: It was interesting to see two of his pieces, Duet from Trails (Melissa Toogood and Calvin Royal III) and Solo from Antic Meet (Toogood). Another salute to a history mostly gone now and some nice variation from the classical ballet on the program.

So glad you got to see Toogood in the Cunningham excerpts -- she's an astonishing dancer and that is her aesthetic home.

Edited by sandik

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Posted (edited)

Rehearsal footage of Giselle: 

In performance, they continued on to do Albrecht's solo and her backward moving entrechats. Quite a long excerpt. 

Edited by California

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I've always wondered how altitude would impact dancers not used to it. (I get migraines when I'm that high up and can barely walk!) But the setting and programming do always sound quite wonderful.

I see Lovette is another ballerina who has opted to highlight her hair in a way that, to me, seems especially out of place in a nineteenth-century ballet. I find it distracting, though I realize it's fine for a Vail excerpt. I guess I'm rather traditional when it comes to taste in hair color/styles for ballet.

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1 hour ago, Drew said:

I've always wondered how altitude would impact dancers not used to it. (I get migraines when I'm that high up and can barely walk!) 

I guess you won't find it reassuring that my hotel room had two bottles of water and one oxygen canister. Oxygen canisters in various sizes are for sale at the Vail Village shops.

A few years ago, Sara Mearns went home with altitude sickness. I don't think she's been back. Daniel Ulbricht in past years said dancing at Vail was like dancing with bricks tied to your chest. Yet he brought his touring group "Stars of the American Ballet" this year to Aspen, which is about the same altitude.

https://www.aspentimes.com/entertainment/new-york-city-ballet-principal-dancer-daniel-ulbricht-brings-stars-of-american-ballet-to-aspen/

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I recall similar stories when PNB danced there a few years ago -- lots of collapsing off stage and sucking on oxygen bottles.  They say you get acclimated after a couple of days, but I have a feeling that's for normal walking around stuff -- not dancing.

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1 hour ago, sandik said:

I recall similar stories when PNB danced there a few years ago -- lots of collapsing off stage and sucking on oxygen bottles.  They say you get acclimated after a couple of days, but I have a feeling that's for normal walking around stuff -- not dancing.

To fully acclimatize in Denver, we're told it takes 3-6 weeks. In lay terms, the balance of red blood cells increases gradually to absorb more oxygen as the air is thinner. A few days will give you enough strength for normal activities. The U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs is at 6,500 ft. It always seemed to me that training at altitude is a legal form of blood-doping for athletes, but it does take some time.  I also noticed an abundance of emergency defibrillators in red boxes in Vail, like you might see fire alarms, but it wouldn't be a bad idea if those were routinely installed everywhere.

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21 hours ago, California said:

It always seemed to me that training at altitude is a legal form of blood-doping for athletes, but it does take some time.  I also noticed an abundance of emergency defibrillators in red boxes in Vail, like you might see fire alarms, but it wouldn't be a bad idea if those were routinely installed everywhere.

I've wondered about the blood doping angle, but I'm not a sports person and so don't know the territory.  And yes, more defibrillators could save lives.

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Many thanks for all of the posts about Vail, @California!  I'm listening to the Conversations on Dance interviews right now, and it's great about the festival first-hand.

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