Damian Woetzel Celebrates 10 Years with Vail International Dance Festival

Isabella Boylston, partnered here by Zachary Catazaro, is Vail's artist in residence this year. Photo by Erin Baiano, courtesy of Vail International Dance Festival

When Damian Woetzel came to Vail a decade ago as artistic director, he brought the vision of creating an open artistic community.

"Dancers often go to festival gigs, arrive with their music and costumes, perform, get the check and go," says Woetzel. "It's very normal and efficient. But I was always more interested in collaborations, artistic development, working with new artists, so I tried from the beginning to create an atmosphere in which to experiment and try something new."

This month, the festival celebrates Woetzel's collaborative mission and its expansion during his time there.


As a New York City Ballet principal, Woetzel performed at Vail for more than a decade before becoming director. "I was familiar with the venue, its strengths and limitations, the mundane stuff like not having wings, because until then, mostly small groups and gala evenings had been presented," he says. "I wanted it to be possible to bring in larger companies; I wanted to see Serenade with the moon rising behind the stage." Right off the bat, he says, he had wings designed.

The festival can now accommodate those larger companies and productions, while also focusing on both individual and collaborative artistic explorations. Artists embrace the festival spirit by teaching, talking, creating and doing community work. Commissioning new work from the likes of Fang-Yi Sheu and Christopher Wheeldon, and adding residencies for individual artists—from Larry Keigwin to Lil Buck to illustrator Andrea Selby—and dance companies, has created a team of artists who return each year.

Many resident artists teach master classes, ranging from tango to jookin to ballet, in order to connect with the diversity of people and ages in the community. In 2014, Woetzel furthered the festival's education component by creating a scholar-in-residence program for rising dance students to be mentored by professionals and perform. This year's scholar is Dario Natarelli (tap), a recent graduate of Fiorella H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts and performer off-Broadway in Tappin' Thru Life. Artist-in-residence Isabella Boylston and company-in-residence BalletX are also on the bill.

Claudia Schreier, Rashaun Mitchell and Jodi Melnick are among the choreographers presenting world premieres for the NOW: Premieres evening. Other highlights include Dance Theatre of Harlem, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Dorrance Dance and a special UpClose performance with past artists in residence Carla Körbes, Tiler Peck and Lil Buck.

The festival runs July 30–August 13. The Vail Dance Festival: ReMix NYC (a version of the summer) is November 3–6 at City Center in NYC.
Teachers Trending
Photo by Yvonne M. Portra, courtesy Faulkner

It's a Wednesday in May, and 14 Stanford University advanced modern ­dance students are logged on to Zoom, each practicing a socially distanced duet with an imaginary person. "Think about the quality of their personality and the type of duet you might have," says their instructor Katie Faulkner, "but also their surface area and how you'd relate to them in space." Amid dorm rooms, living rooms, dining rooms and backyards, the dancers make do with cramped quarters and dodge furniture as they twist, curve, stretch and intertwine with their imaginary partners.

Keep reading... Show less
Music
Getty Images

Securing the correct music licensing for your studio is an important step in creating a financially sound business. "Music licensing is something studio owners seem to either embrace or ignore completely," says Clint Salter, CEO and founder of the Dance Studio Owners Association. While it may seem like it's a situation in which it's easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission—that is, to wait until you're approached by a music-rights organization before purchasing a license—Salter disagrees, citing Peloton, the exercise company that produces streaming at-home workouts. In February, Peloton settled a music-licensing suit with the National Music Publishers' Association out-of-court for an undisclosed amount. Originally, NMPA had sought $300 million in damages from Peloton. "It can get extremely expensive," says Salter. "It's not worth it for a studio to get caught up in that."

As you continue to explore a hybrid online/in-person version of your class schedule, it's crucial that your music licenses include coverage for livestreamed instruction—which comes with its own particular requirements. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about music licensing—in both normal times and COVID times—as well as some safe music bets that won't pose any issues.

Keep reading... Show less
Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.