What to Expect at Colorado's Vail Dance Festival

Courtesy Vail Valley Foundation

World-class performers descend on Colorado for the 2018 Vail Dance Festival. 

Now in its 30th year, the Vail Dance Festival has become one of the high points of the summer arts season. Particularly over the past decade, under the artistic directorship of Damian Woetzel—a former New York City Ballet principal dancer who’s now the new dean of the Juilliard School—the festival has blossomed, becoming not only a destination for world-class performers from all over the country but an important incubator for new work, fostering fresh commissions in both the music and dance worlds.

With its Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater stage set dramatically against sweeping Rocky Mountain views, it’s a cultural utopia of sorts: a place where young artists can take chances they might not ordinarily get on their home stages; where collaboration between both companies and art forms is welcome; and where experimentation across styles thrives.


Erin Baiano

This summer’s program is as exciting and pioneering as always. Seven new commissions—including a work by City Ballet’s Justin Peck set to a new composition by Pulitzer-winner Caroline Shaw—are up, along with festival debuts by companies like American Ballet Theatre, Ballet Hispanico, and Alonzo King LINES Ballet, and returning favorites like the tap dynamos of Dorrance Dance and jookin’ maestro Lil Buck.

But the festival’s spirit of cross-pollination is everywhere, from City Ballet star Tiler Peck’s guest appearance with ABT to BalletX’s world premiere partnership with Buck. With programming this rich, it’s impossible to pick just one standout night: Vail is a living cornucopia of music and dance. Through Aug. 11.