Isabella Boylston and Calvin Royal III perform Christopher Wheeldon's This Bitter Earth at the 2016 Vail Dance Festival.

Erin Baiano, Courtesy Vail Dance Festival

What to Watch: The 2020 Vail Dance Festival Goes Virtual

Picture this: Tiler Peck, Isabella Boylston and Roman Mejia performing in your living room.

From July 31 to August 7, tune in as the Vail Dance Festival premieres its new digital edition in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the first time, the festival will be readily accessible to audiences who unable to attend the annual festivities in Vail, Colorado. This year, you can catch archival performances and educational conversations via the festival's Facebook and YouTube channels for free through August 15.



Known for its emphasis on collaboration, Vail gives audiences the unique opportunity to see their favorite artists perform in new genres and repertoire, like Tiler Peck tapping in 2017, Calvin Royal III building his expertise in Balanchine repertoire, and Roman Meija in Alexei Ratmansky's Fandango, a solo that until last summer was only danced by women. This year's online lineup features highlights from the past decade and stars dancers from New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Ballet Hispánico and more. Read on for details on what's coming up. For the full schedule, including casting, check out the festival's website.

Opening Night: Friday, July 31 at 6 pm MDT

Performance highlights include:

  • Jose Limón's Mazurkas, starring Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild (2016)
  • Balanchine's Apollo (excerpt), starring Calvin Royal III and Unity Phelan (2019)
  • 1-2-3-4-5-6, starring Michelle Dorrance, Robbie Fairchild, Melissa Toogood and Lil Buck (2016 premiere)
  • Alexei Ratmansky's Fandango, originally a woman's solo created for Wendy Whelan, reworked for Roman Mejia (2019)

Virtual Gala: Sunday, August 2 at 6 pm MDT

Highlights include:

  • Alonzo King's Personal Element with commissioned music and performance by jazz musician Jason Moran, starring dancers from LINES and NYCB (2019 double commission premiere)
  • The Swan, starring hip hop artist Lil Buck with a musical performance by Yo-Yo Ma (2013)
  • Ronald K. Brown's 2007 Release My Heart, starring Matthew Rushing (2012)
  • Pas de deux from Balanchine's Agon, starring Calvin Royal III and Unity Phelan

Passing Balanchine On: Monday, August 3 at 6 pm MDT

Vail presents exclusive insights as artistic director Damian Woetzel and his wife, former NYCB principal Heather Watts, discuss mentoring, coaching and curating Balanchine's works at the festival throughout the years. Contributing speakers include Tiler Peck, Herman Cornejo and Calvin Royal III.

Conversations on Dance with Lil Buck: Monday, August 3 at 6 pm MDT

Rebecca King Ferraro and Michael Sean Breeden, hosts of the podcast Conversations On Dance, host virtual discussions throughout the program with festival artist and celebrated jooker Lil Buck.

NOW: Premieres: Tuesday, August 4 at 6 pm MDT

Highlights include:

  • Justin Peck's Rise Wait Climb Through, starring Herman Cornejo and dancers from NYCB, ABT and Boston Ballet (2018 premiere)
  • World premiere of Bobbi Jene Smith's Mercy, created for the 2020 virtual festival, starring Smith, Calvin Royal III and Melissa Toogood
  • Time It Was/116, starring and created by Tiler Peck, Bill Irwin and Damian Woetzel (2015)
  • Piece d'occasion starring Robbie Fairchild singing and dancing from his rooftop in NYC (2020)

Conversations On Dance with "The Cindies" Isabella Boylston and James Whiteside: Wednesday, August 5 at 6 pm MDT

Rebecca King Ferraro and Michael Sean Breeden host a virtual discussion with festival artists Isabella Boylston and James Whiteside.

Conversations On Dance with Calvin Royal III: Thursday, August 6 at 6 pm MDT

Rebecca King Ferraro and Michael Sean Breeden host a virtual discussion with festival artist Calvin Royal III.

Closing Night (hosted by Damian Woetzel): Friday, August 7 at 6 pm MDT

Highlights include:

  • Carolina Shout with music performed by Jason Moran, starring Michelle Dorrance and Lil Buck (2019)
  • Michelle Dorrance and Dario Natarelli's we seem to be more than one , starring a diverse cast of musicians and tap, ballet, contemporary, jookin', flamenco and modern dancers in a performance celebrating Vail's history of collaboration across genres (2017)

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