Digital Vail Dance Festival offers a peek into the inventive summer program

Digital Vail Dance Festival offers a peek into the inventive summer program

The virtual iteration of the Vail Dance Festival makes its online debut this Friday with a selection of performances that will raise the veil … on Vail. Culled from a decade’s worth of debuts, revivals and premieres, the pieces offer a look into works that have “rarely if ever” made an appearance outside of the prestigious festival.

The online series kicks off at 8 p.m. Eastern July 31 and runs through Aug. 7. Viewers can tune into the slate of programming via the Vail Dance Festival YouTube and Facebook pages. The digital edition will be available online until Aug. 15.

The opening night program will be hosted by the festival’s artistic director Damian Woetzel, who will be joined by a cast of dancers and musicians. A handful of audience members will participate in a live screening event held at Vail’s outdoor amphitheater, where performers typically take the stage, curtained by an expanse of Colorado sky.

Heather Watts coaching Tiler Peck and Herman Cornejo in "Apollo." Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo by Erin Baiano.
Heather Watts coaching Tiler Peck and Herman Cornejo in “Apollo.” Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo by Erin Baiano.

The slate includes a robust program of talks — including “Passing Balanchine On” Aug. 1, during which Woetzel and Heather Watts will discuss mentoring, coaching and curating the works of the famed choreographer. The discussion will feature filmed performances of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (Tiler Peck and Jared Angle), “Elégie” (Carla Körbes) and “Agon” (Unity Phelan and Calvin Royal III).

Of note is the Aug. 4 event, “NOW: Premieres,” which comprises a selection of new works and collaborations. “Mercy” — choreographed and danced by Bobbi Jene Smith, alongside Melissa Toogood and Calvin Royal III (who was announced as the festival’s artist in residence earlier this year) — and Robbie Fairchild’s “A Summer Place” will make their virtual world premieres as part of the event.

Those who didn’t see the 2018 premiere of Justin Peck’s “Rise Wait Climb Through” — danced by Jared Angle, Isabella Boylston, Herman Cornejo, Patricia Delgado, Joseph Gordon, Christopher Grant, Misa Kuranaga and Tiler Peck — will have the chance to do so during the “NOW” program.

The festival opens the same day that it would have done if the programming were in-person rather than framed by laptop and television screens. The decision to cancel this year’s program came in mid-May.

“The Vail Dance Festival is a place of intense collaboration among our artists,” Woetzel said in a May 14 statement announcing the decision. “We look forward to the creative energy that will be more powerful than ever when we are all able to be together again next summer.”

A complete line-up and calendar of events can be found on the Vail Dance Festival website.

Top Image: Unity Phelan and Calvin Royal III in "Apollo" at the Vail Dance Festival. Photo: Christopher Duggan.