“I’ve lived in Vail for 40 years,” my new neighbor said, by way of introduction. “I love it, although I’m starting to get a little tired of the winters.”
Vail is world-famous as a ski destination, a whirlwind winter romance for the hundreds of seasonal ski-bums who clog the town and unclog the resort toilets, but the true locals love it for the summers.
So I hear, anyways. I’ve been a local for all of a week; many of the tourists have been here for longer than I have.
So it was with virgin eyes and an open heart that my partner and I made our way down the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheatre to see a few performances of the Vail International Dance Festival 2014, a two-week affair that just ended.
We moved to Vail on August 1, at the midpoint of the festival— a happy coincidence, because if we had been here for the whole thing, we would be broke. Take the opportunities that fate hands you, I always think. An internationally acclaimed dance festival is a great opportunity, no matter what your stoner friends from college might tell you.
However, your stoner friends from college might be right to tell you that you’ll go broke fast taking opportunities like that. Vail has a reputation as an expensive town, and the VIDF lived up to that reputation. Seats in the Amphitheatre itself ran from $50 to $200. However, lawn seats only cost $22, after tax. Trade two hours of work for two hours of world-class dance seemed like a square deal.
My partner danced for seventeen years, and at 23, she has the bad back to show for it. We opted to sit against the stone terracing in the very back of the lawn, and still had a great view of the dancers. We brought a picnic dinner and a few blankets, as did many of the families with which we shared the lawn.
The Gerald R. Ford Amphitheatre is an astonishingly pretty venue. I’d venture to say that it’s a prettier venue than Red Rocks. Red Rocks is much, much bigger, and has the benefit of naturally impressive acoustics. For a loud rock concert, I’ll take Red Rocks. For high culture events, there’s nowhere in Colorado I’d rather be than the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheatre.
We attended two performances: The Dance for $20.14 on August 5 and the Martha Graham Company on August 7. The Dance for $20.14 featured a fun mix of styles and stars that was intended to serve as a “fun” introduction to dance for those who might not usually attend a dance performance. The dances were innovative and often capitalized on popular culture. My two favorite performances form the night were Prime Tyme dancing to the Pentatonix rendition of Goye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know,” and a haunting duet between BalletX dancer Chloe Feleshina and William Cannon, set to Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”
I left the performances quite satisfied. I didn’t know what I was missing until we returned to the festival on Thursday, to see the Martha Graham Company.
Put quite simply: The Martha Graham Company are the best dancers I have ever seen. Their movements and choreography were so much crisper than the dancers from Tuesday night— and don’t get me wrong, the Dance for $20.14 performance was impressive.
Martha Graham was masterful.
The company performed four pieces, one of which, “At Summer’s Full” was a world premiere. “Not every day you get a world premiere from Martha Graham,” dryly remarked Damien Woetzel, who was a wonderful, appreciative and playful master of ceremonies. The company certainly won a new fan.
As we walked the creek-side path from the Ford Amphitheatre back to Vail Village, my girlfriend grabbed my hand and whispered, “These are my favorite dates,” in my ear.