Vail Festival to Return This Summer With Live Performances

Calvin Royal III, slated to be the 2020 artist in residence, will take up the mantle this year instead.

Calvin Royal III with Unity Phelan in George Balanchine’s “Apollo” at Vail in 2019.
Credit...Christopher Duggan

Calvin Royal III will be the artist in residence at this year’s Vail Dance Festival, the festival announced on Wednesday. Royal, a principal dancer with American Ballet Theater, was announced as last year’s artist in residence, but didn’t take up his appointment when the pandemic obliged the festival to cancel live performances and show work online.

This year’s festival, July 30-Aug. 9, will be held entirely outdoors, at the Gerald R. Ford amphitheater, and conform to current Covid protocols, Damian Woetzel, the festival’s artistic director, said in an email.

Royal will appear in new pieces by Jamar Roberts, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s resident choreographer; and Tiler Peck (to a commissioned score from Caroline Shaw, the festival’s composer in residence). He will also perform Merce Cunningham’s role in a staging of Cunningham’s “Rebus.”

In addition Royal will be featured in UpClose — a rehearsal-style performance demonstrating a stylistic range of works — with fellow Ballet Theater principal Isabella Boylston, New York City Ballet’s Unity Phelan and the former Cunningham dancer Melissa Toogood.

“I started working with Calvin as a young dancer, and am honored to continue with him as he both expands his range and hones in on his highly personal voice,” Woetzel said.

Other new works shown at the festival will include a collaboration between Lil Buck and Lauren Lovette; a piece by New York City Ballet’s resident choreographer, Justin Peck, to a commissioned score by Shaw; and new works by Michelle Dorrance, Cleo Parker Robinson and James Whiteside.

Vail has long mixed and mingled ballet, street, contemporary and tap dance performers in often-unusual commissions and collaborations. This year’s roster of visiting artists includes Herman Cornejo, Robert Fairchild, Joseph Gordon, Maria Kowroski, Roman Mejia, Ron Myles and Dario Natarelli.

Visiting companies include City Ballet’s touring troupe, Moves, the Philadelphia contemporary ballet ensemble, BalletX, and Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, which will present a new work by Robinson to celebrate her company’s 50th anniversary.

Woetzel, who has directed the festival since 2007, said that although the past year had been difficult, he was proud of a fund created to help artists and staff from previous seasons. “After the deeply affecting experience we have all shared, there will be such an explosion of energy and appreciation for what we can do together as we gather again in the Rockies,” he said.