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Journey through the world of dance at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek



The Vail Valley Academy of Dance will perform two different works Friday-Sunday at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek.
Vail Valley Academy of Dance/Courtesy photo

Since 1989, Vail Valley Academy of Dance has provided dance instruction for both little-bitty young ones, as well as advanced dancers, who compete in the repertory company. This weekend, Vail Valley Academy of Dance presents two different shows, “Around the World” and “Alice in Wonderland,” each of which dancers will perform twice at the Vilar Performing Arts Center.

Friday night and Saturday afternoon, “Around the World” takes audiences on a journey through various countries and dances, including hip-hop, tap, jazz, contemporary and South African, with a bit of ballet. Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, Vail Valley Academy of Dance presents its ballet version of “Alice in Wonderland.” 

The older students, ages 7-18, perform both shows of “Around the World,” while the youngest, ages 3-6, are split into groups to dance on either Friday or Saturday. Altogether, Friday showcases 32 dances, and Saturday’s matinee features 36 dance routines — a total of about 200 students in each show.

While the tiny dancers tend to garner the most applause, Vail Valley Academy of Dance’s repertory company is also a huge draw. This year, they perform “Sunrise Samba,” choreographed by Colin Meiring, who won national titles in South Africa in ballroom dancing and choreographed and directed shows for Royal Caribbean and Silversea Cruises.

“It’s super high-energy, with bright-colored costumes,” said Ashley M. Calligan, co-owner and artistic director, about “Sunrise Samba.”

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In addition to a variety of entertaining routines created by faculty, guest choreographer Sarah Tallman from Wonderbound in Denver produced “A Girl in a Dress.”

“She has such a beautiful eye,” Calligan said.

Other fun dances include “Catch Me If You Can,” a tap dance with Vail Valley Academy of Dance’s senior tap class dressed as flight attendants, “Jai Ho,” a traditional Indian dance and “Waka, Waka,” a South African dance that also incorporates hip hop.

Students learn about professional dancing by performing at Vail Valley Academy of Dance and working with its crew.

“They love the atmosphere of being there. It is an intimate theater, while being such a professional theater. Working with the crew teaches them what it’s like to work in a professional theater,” Calligan said, pointing out how dancers are assigned certain locker rooms, makeup and more.

Dancers from as young as 3 years all the way up to 18 years of age participate in the programs offered by the Vail Valley Academy of Dance.
Vail Valley Academy of Dance/Courtesy photo

Friday evening also features a special slideshow to honor Meiring, who is retiring after 20 years of teaching at Vail Valley Academy of Dance.

During the Saturday night and Sunday matinee, ballet students fill the stage with “Alice in Wonderland” for the second year. Vail Valley Academy of Dance brings its ballets to the Vilar Performing Arts Center for two years in a row, in order to maximize the use of props and costumes. Lead dances remain the same, but instructors choose different students to dance the leads, through auditions. Meanwhile, younger dancers find inspiration watching older dancers, Calligan said.

“We make sure all of the dancers get to shine,” she said.

Vail Valley Academy of Dance selected “Alice in Wonderland” because it’s a beloved story that just about everyone grows up watching.

“It’s nice to see it brought to life in ballet,” she said.

This year, Vail Valley Academy of Dance celebrates 10 graduating seniors, who each have specialty or solo parts, such as Alice or the Red Queen.

The studio also celebrates 35 years of instruction, with more than 250 students and eight faculty members. Throughout the decades, advanced dancers have been accepted into summer programs of prestigious ballet schools, studied at reputable schools and even performed from Broadway to worldwide destinations such as Berlin.

“The level of teaching at this studio is one of the best you could find anywhere in the country,” said Linda Lampert, whose daughter has been accepted to summer intensive programs at the Nutmeg Conservatory of Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet, Joffrey School in New York City, Miami City School of Ballet, Saratoga Springs and HARID Conservatory.

“We strive to make sure that they have a wonderful dance education, as well as learning to be the most successful adults they can be,” Calligan said.

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