The bountiful convergence that is the Vail Dance Festival is now in high gear, and along with forming new partnerships and taking on new roles (Roman Mejia performing Jose Limon’s Chaconne was one of this year’s intriguing expansions of a major dancer’s range), an eye-catching list of today’s dance luminaries are busy preparing an entire evening of world premieres.
That program – NOW: PREMIERES is reliably a high point of this two-week festival amid the mountain scenery and babbling streams of a town more associated with skiing than with dance. The program takes place on Monday August 8th and will be available through August 15th as a free livestream to be shared by anyone who is anywhere!
Link for the livestream is HERE. Just remember the time differences – the performances take place at 7:30pm MT.
You want unusual pairings? Pam Tanowitz is creating a duet for Melissa Toogood, her leading muse, and ABT’s ageless wonder, Herman Cornejo. Are you looking for a dancer taking a risk? Sara Mearns is delving further into the no-holds-barred, deeply personal choreography of Bobbi Jene Smith.
Tanowitz has another premiere on the program – a trio for three tall powerful NYCB ladies: Miriam Miller, Mira Nadon and Unity Phelan.
Calli Quan – a former BalletX dancer who’s become a busy choreographer and is an artist in residence at the 2022 festival, is also creating two new works. One is set to a commissioned score by Caroline Shaw and its cast is a showcase of NYCB talent: Tiler Peck, Roman Mejia, Jovani Furlan and Christopher Grant. Quan’s other premiere is a solo for Mejia, who must be the busiest man in the mountains this week.
Claudia Schreier, a talented young choreographer who has been steadily gaining assurance and finding her voice, returns to Vail with a premiere she has choreographed for an impressive cast of ballet stars: Chun Wai Chan, Philip Duclos, Calvin Royal III, Cory Stearns, Devon Teuscher. The music by Gonzalo Grau will be played by the excellent string quartet Brooklyn Rider
Ephrat Asherie, whose roots are in street dance but who also performs with Michelle Dorrance, is new to Vail this year. Her company had an evening of its own last week, and she’s now getting into Vail’s unique let’s-collaborate-and-see-what-happens spirit by making a work for two of Vail’s most consistently inventive and beloved mainstays: Lil Buck and Dorrance.
Wait – there’s more. Jodi Melnick, a “downtown” choreographer with whom dancers of all styles love to collaborate, will present a new work featuring four strong women: Lauren Lovette, Patricia Delgado, Miriam Miller, and Caili Quan. (Delgado’s return to the stage is one of the exciting aspects of Vail this year. The former Miami City Ballet principal has been busy – assisting on the choreography for the recent West Side Story film, and becoming a mother – but she’s back to performing this summer.)
You may have noticed that all of these premieres are by women. But Monday’s roster does include one man, and he’s one of our leading choreographers – Justin Peck. His new 30-minute work is a collaboration with bluegrass star Chris Thile, who will perform on stage with the dancers. The cast features the dynamic duo of Robbie Fairchild and Peck himself, as well as India Bradley, Patricia Delgado, KJ Takahashi and Byron Tittle.
They will certainly mix it up in bold and unexpected ways, along with everyone plunging into the adventurous spirit – and hectic preparation schedule – of the NOW: Premieres program. Thanks to this livestream, their efforts can be experienced by all of us, not just the lucky ones in attendance.
Susan Reiter covers dance for TDF Stages and contributes regularly to the Los Angeles Times, Playbill, Dance Australia and other publications.