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Onstage This Week: Vail Dance Fest Features Major Ballet Stars, RWB Opens 80th Season and More!

Erin Baiano, Courtesy Vail Dance Festival

Wonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've rounded up some highlights.


Vail Dance Festival Opens with Performances by American Ballet Theatre and Dancers from New York City Ballet

It's that time of year again—when all your favorite dancers head to the Colorado Rocky Mountains for three weeks of premieres, performances, master classes and out-of-the-box collaborations. This year, the Vail Dance Festival runs from July 26-August 10, starting with an opening night program featuring dancers from New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre in Tiler Peck's On Lincoln Square, excerpts from Swan Lake, Jessica Lang's Let Me Sing Forevermore, and the chance to see Isabella Boylston's debut in George Balanchine's Serenade alongside Lauren Lovette. On July 27, ABT dancers will return with some of the company's masterworks, including Twyla Tharp's Sinatra Suite, the Don Quixote Act III pas de deux, Antony Tudor's Jardin aux Lilas and the world premiere of James Whiteside's New American Romance.

Royal Winnipeg Ballet Opens 80th Season with Ballet in the Park

July 24-26, Royal Winnipeg Ballet will be hosting its annual free Ballet in the Park program at the Assiniboine Park's Lyric Theatre. For this landmark season, RWB will perform both classical and more contemporary works. From La Fille Mal Gardee's pas de deux and Le Corsaire's "Le Jardin Anime" to Nicole Kepp and Sara Goodman's amazingly-soundtracked (think: Fergie and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) Alice and excerpts from Septime Webre's zany take on The Wizard of Oz, there's bound to be something for everyone.

Connecticut Ballet Performs "Under the Stars"

Connecticut Ballet will continue its free, family-friendly "Ballet Under the Stars" program this Friday, July 16, at the Mill River Park with a split bill, showcasing a contemporary ballet by Marden Ramos and "Now and Then," choreographed by Joseph Locarro. The show will be narrated by the company's artistic director, Brett Raphael, and will close with a talk-back with the performers.

Summer Intensive Survival
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There's a sweet spot toward the end of August—after summer intensives have wrapped up and before it's time to head back to school or work—where the days are long, lazy and begging to be spent neck-deep in a pile of good books. Whether you're looking for inspiration for the upcoming season or trying to brush up on your dance history, you can never go wrong with an excellent book on ballet. We've gathered eight titles (all available at common booksellers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble) guaranteed to give you a deeper understanding of the art form, to add to your end-of-summer reading list.

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James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico warm up onstage. Angela Sterling, Courtesy SDC.

On a sunny July weekend, hundreds of Seattle-area dance fans converged on tiny Vashon Island, a bucolic enclave in Puget Sound about 20 miles from the city. They made the ferry trek to attend the debut performance of the fledgling Seattle Dance Collective.

SDC is not a run-of-the-mill contemporary dance company; it's the brainchild of two of Pacific Northwest Ballet's most respected principal dancers: James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico. The duo wanted to create a nimble organization to feature dancers and choreographers they felt needed more exposure in the Pacific Northwest.

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Roman Mejia in Robbins' Dances at a Gathering. Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB.

The Princess Grace Foundation has just announced its 2019 class, and we're thrilled that two ballet dancers—New York City Ballet's Roman Mejia and BalletX's Stanley Glover—are included among the list of über-talented actors, filmmakers, playwrights, dancers and choreographers.

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The Royal Ballet's Alexander Campbell and Yasmine Naghdi in Ashton's The Two Pigeons. Tristram Kenton, Courtesy ROH.

While most ballet casts are 100 percent human, it's not unheard of for live animals to appear onstage, providing everything from stage dressing to supporting roles. Michael Messerer's production of Don Quixote features a horse and a donkey; American Ballet Theatre's Giselle calls for two Russian wolfhounds; and Sir Frederick Ashton's La Fille Mal Gardee requires a white Shetland pony. Another Ashton masterpiece, The Two Pigeons, is well known for its animal actors. But though ballet is a highly disciplined, carefully choreographed art form, some performers are naturally more prone to flights of fancy—because they're birds.

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