I should re-introduce myself. My name is Erica Sheftman, and I’m a former dancer/current student at Harvard, back to Vail this summer for a long weekend. Last summer I was lucky enough to chronicle the events of the festival for its entire duration, and I’m thrilled to be here again for several days punctuated by International Evenings of Dance, as well as some amazing ballroom dance, milongas in the Betty Ford gardens, and rehearsals of world premieres in every style of dance.
I feel like each year the festival just grows to new heights. In some ways, there is a comforting sense of constancy: returning to the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater yesterday afternoon I was attacked by an intense wave of the best kind of deja vu. There was Misa [Kuranaga, of Boston Ballet] with Herman [Cornejo, of American Ballet Theatre], happy to be back together onstage after a too-long hiatus following their first appearance as a partnership here in Vail last summer. I saw flashes of Carla Korbes’s [Pacific Northwest Ballet] peerless blonde hair every so often through the wings; strains of Piazzolla wafting from backstage with the arrival of Natalia Hills, the tango star from Buenos Aires who brought the festival down last year; the familiar chatter backstage in an unparalleled goulash of French, Russian, Spanish and English as all the internationals descended upon the theater; and best of all the aroma of the trees that I could place anywhere as belonging to Ford Park, and the backdrop of the Rockies extending upwards to the sky past the stage ceiling.
So that was very nice, but I was also struck by the way nothing ever really repeats here. New partnerships are constantly being formed: yesterday, Carla and Cory Stearns of American Ballet Theatre danced together for the first time (watch for video of their White Swan pas de deux soon), and Misa danced with Renan Cerdeiro of Miami City Ballet (Don Quixote Grand pas de deux). The excitement of bringing together dancers in Vail who hail from different companies is the knowledge that this is something you’ll see only here, in this moment. It’s really thrilling to be present for the initial encounter, as the dancers figure out timing, sensibility…and stamina- it’s hard up on this mountain.
More firsts: Helene Bouchet and Thiago Bordin from Hamburg Ballet are here, dancing the white pas de deux from Lady of the Camellias. Trey McIntyre Project makes its return to Vail after six years. An evening of world premieres by Christopher Wheeldon, Trey McIntyre, Emery LeCrone, Charles ‘Lil’ Buck’ Riley, and Richard Siegal.
And of course, the worldwide debut of New York City Ballet Moves, the new touring company of the New York City Ballet. It will be so interesting to watch this mini-company evolve over the years, but how exciting that their first performance ever took place in Vail. NYCB Artistic Director Peter Martins came to town with his dancers, and looking through pictures that Festival photographers Erin Baiano and Caitlin Kakigi took, I thought, how cool to see Festival Director Damian Woetzel and Peter onstage as co-directors (Damian retired from New York City Ballet in 2008). Here they are, in matching VIDF 2011 t-shirts made possible by the Keith Haring Foundation.
The company’s second program featured only works choreographed in the 21st century: Christopher Wheeldon’s Polyphonia (pictured above), Wheeldon’s haunting After the Rain pas de deux (performed by Wendy Whelan and Craig Hall….by the way Wendy could do this every day and it would still never get old; its one of the more beautiful sights I’ve ever seen, particularly when set amidst the Rockies at sunset), and Peter Martins’s Hallelujah Junction. Some more photos: