Watch: High-Altitude All-Stars
Situated in a Rocky Mountain resort city, the Vail Dance Festival has by no means been essentially the most simply accessible occasion. But on this summer season of digital or (practically) nothing, it’s out there to all, on YouTube by way of Aug. 15. Since this yr’s 4 applications are largely a choice of performances filmed lately, they provide an opportunity to find what, other than its alpine setting, has made the competition distinct.
Vail is a bit like fantasy soccer or a bunch of all-star video games. New York City Ballet luminaries be a part of with huge names from American Ballet Theater, alongside performers like the faucet dance chief Michelle Dorrance and the Memphis jookin prodigy Lil Buck. And not like in comparable gala conditions, the groups actually mingle — shuffling rosters, swapping repertory, collectively contributing to commissioned novelties. The new mixtures and collaborations are typically tough or superficial, typically contemporary and distinctive.
The “Now: Premieres” program, debuting on Tuesday, options two new made-for-the second movies. In Robert Fairchild’s “A Summer Place,” he does a dreamy track and dance on his roof. In Bobbi Jene Smith’s “Mercy,” she and Melissa Toogood and Calvin Royal III writhe attractively on the seashore. But the competition’s core spirit is greatest captured within the remaining choice, dropping on Friday: Ms. Dorrance’s 2017 “we seem to be more than one,” during which the motley masters of many disciplines are adroitly woven along with rhythm and with Bill Irwin reciting Samuel Beckett. Forget all-star recreation: This is the final word dance camp finale.
As chipper as Mr. Fairchild seems up on the roof, he’s gone by way of a variety of adjustments these days: leaving City Ballet for Broadway and motion pictures, ending his marriage. He’s needed to let go of who he was, and he drew on that experience for the 2019 dance short “In This Life,” which is streaming on the website of WNET All Arts starting Wednesday.
The 11-minute film, directed by Bat-Sheva Guez and written by Ms. Guez and Mr. Fairchild, is structured around the five stages of grief, each one imagined by a different choreographer in a different striking location. For “Bargaining,” Mr. Fairchild gets soaked in the ocean, baptized in Andrea Miller moves. For “Depression,” he does a clingy Christopher Wheeldon pas de deux with a masked figure in a restaurant bathroom. “In This Life” is a little horror movie and what holds it together is the versatility and presence of its leading man.
Watch: A Touch of Vertigo
The coronavirus has cooped up dancers, but it has also given rise to a spate of short films in which performers who normally ply their trade on stages exult in spreading their limbs outdoors. On Aug. 13, San Francisco Ballet is debuting another: “Dance of Dreams,” directed by Benjamin Millepied.
The dream here is one of free motion in space, and, in two duets, of physical connection. But the six-minute short is equally a celebration of San Francisco as a grand location for film. The choreography is by Justin Peck, Christopher Wheeldon, Janie Taylor and Dwight Rhoden, and the excellent dancers look liberated. But oh, the settings: the cliffs of Sausalito, the Golden Gate shrouded in mist. The film ends in the Palace of Fine Arts, where Hitchcock shot some of “Vertigo,” and that movie memory is also in the music: the rich “Scene d’Amour” from Bernard Herrmann’s score.
Watch: Words and Moves for Black Lives
This has been the season of very short dance films, often grouped in series. Amid a deluge of videos inspired mainly by the lack of anything else to do, the Instagram series #MOVEforBLACKLIVES stands out for its clarity of purpose.
Initiated and produced by the New York company Matheta Dance, it’s a fund-raising project for Black Lives Matter organizations and bailout collections. Donors were invited to a choose a word from a list — “rise,” “breathe,” “heal,” “protest.” Then a dancer, responding to that word, improvised on video, and Matheta’s company manager, Terri Ayanna Wright, edited the footage into a one-minute physical statement.
Since the project began, on Juneteenth, dozens of videos have accrued. You might start with “Fear.” As Kendrick Lamar, in his track by the same title, calmly lists the ways he might die, the Alvin Ailey dancer Chalvar Monteiro dances with tenderness and beauty in the shadow of a fire escape. Fear is present, but not only fear.
Watch and Move: Children and Art
Back in spring, when parents were going nuts trying to occupy stuck-inside children, the family friendly New Victory Theater provided a great service with its “Arts Break” series of activity videos.
This summer, the theater has adapted its New Victory Dance program, which normally provides free dance performances to day camps and summer schools, into an online series for ages 8 and up. Each 20-minute episode focuses on a company or choreographer; there’s a terrifically diverse array, from the Afro-Mexican fandango of Ballet Nepantla to the same-sex tango of Kate Weare.
Hosted by Patrick Ferreri, who has the manner of a dance-world Mister Rogers, these casual videos allow the choreographers to introduce themselves and share a performance excerpt. Then Mr. Ferreri strikes up a conversation about the dance with young New Victory staff members and leads a brief dance class based in that episode’s idiom. This all culminates in a dance party, with the cast demonstrating how it’s done from their kitchens and living rooms. The end, arrived at unintimidatingly, is education.
This week’s installment is particularly inspiring. It features the tap queen Dormeshia and part of her knockout show “And Still You Must Swing.”