The Vail International Dance Festival

The summer performing arts festivals peak this month with the addition of the Vail International Dance Festival, which opened last weekend with an evening of classical pas de deux featuring talent from the world's greatest ballet companies.

Photo of Galina Stepanenko fromthe Bolshoi Ballet
Galina Stepanenko from
the Bolshoi Ballet
Agnes Letestu and Jose Martinez of the Paris Opera Ballet gave us a lyrically transcendent White Swan and a joyous, shimmering Grand Pas de Deux from Esmeralda.

Boshoi star Galina Stepanenko's Black Swan with Nikolai Tsiskaridze radiated effusive confidence, and their Raymonda was moody, yet stylistically refined.

Lorna Feijo and Rolando Serabia from the National Ballet of Cuba opened the program with a charming comical waltz by Alberto Mendez, who was in attendance, and finished up with an energetic and crisp rendition of the flamboyant Flames of Paris.

Anastasia Volochkova and Eugeny Ivanchenko of the Bolshoi and Kirov stirred us with their exotic and sexy Scheherazade and an exquisite and tender Giselle.

Photo of Rasta Thomas from the Kirov Ballet
Rasta Thomas from
the Kirov Ballet
The crowd's clear favorite was American phenom Rasta Thomas, who paired with Renata Pavam of American Ballet Theatre for an elegant Le Corsaire. Thomas, only 20 years old and already the recipient of many awards and the subject of a PBS documentary, is astonishing, capable of moving in ways never before experienced. His solo, a tribute to Gil Giodano, a long-time supporter of the festival who passed away earlier this year, was a smashing collage of unbridled unique plasticity choreographed to the '70's pop favorite "A Song For You" by Nicolas Musin.

The Vail International Dance Festival concludes this coming weekend with programs from a star-studded ensemble headed by Ethan Stiefel of the American Ballet Theatre and The Royal Ballet and The Shanghai Dance Ensemble, one of China's most celebrated companies. 970-949-1999.


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