Sun Valley is rightfully known for consistent, perfect vertical on our slopes; the best cross country skiing in the country; hiking and mountain biking and rock climbing. But Sun Valley is also famous for its thriving arts scene. Local galleries feature top artists that draw collectors from near and far. Renown speakers and performers grace stages and podiums year-round. The calendar is dotted with star-studded film festivals and conferences. The arts scene in this little town in the Idaho mountains offers so much that visitors are often surprised by the breadth and...
If you find yourself at Sun Valley’s iconic outdoor skating rink this week, you may catch a glimpse into the creative process of some of skating and ballet’s greats. Until September 12, Ice Dance International is in residence creating classical and contemporary ice ballet pieces.
Artistic director Douglas Webster is on property working the breathtaking dance team of Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre and Sun Valley favorites Erin Reed, Joel Dear and Ryan Bradley. Accomplished Olympic skater Beata Handra rounds out the cast. Webster has a long history in Sun Valley, returning year after year since 1996 in many capacities, including three-time choreographer of Sun Valley On Ice. For the past three years he has served as Artistic Director of Ice Theatre of New York.
Also rinkside is the legendary danseur and choreographer, Edward Villella, one of America’s most celebrated ballet dancers. He is probably best known for his dramatic transformation of the male image in ballet. A former principal with New York City Ballet, Villella went on to found Miami City Ballet and served as its director until 2012. In a storied career, there are many highlights including dancing at the inaugural for President John F. Kennedy, and performing for Presidents Johnson, Nixon, and Ford. This 1997 Kennedy Center Honors recipient has now turned his gifts to the ice. He is married to Linda Carbonneto Villella who was national figure skating champion of Canada in the 1960s and serves at co-executive director of the new not-for-profit company. Ice skating legend Dick Button also serves an artistic advisor.
Ice Dance International is in residence in Sun Valley creating repertory to capture the imagination and create an emotional response. Here, favorite dance pair Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre rehearse
Together, Webster and Villella are working to meld ballet and ice dance, generating gorgeous original repertory – both classical and contemporary. “During the time we're here, Edward and I will be making new repertory for the company leading up to a video viewing of excerpts in New York City on October 2,” Webster said. “Edward will be developing an Artie Shaw piece to 'Begin the Beguine' and 'Stardust'. I will be working on a piece called 'Nocturnes' to the music of Chopin, 'Nocturnes, Op. 9,' and a beautiful tango by JP Jofre, called ‘After the Rain.’”
Adding to the creative mix, Elizabeth Keller, a dancer from Trey McIntyre’s company, will work with the skaters while they are in residence. “We're excited to explore Trey's work and hope to stage a piece here in Sun Valley in the fall of 2016,” Webster said.
Kim Navarro who entertains and thrills with her partner Brent Bommentre in Sun Valley on Ice said this opportunity is a terrific way to shift gears after the summer season. “Figure skating touches on sports, entertainment and artistic world,” she said. “It can touch people on so many levels. Setting these pieces really shifts our focus to the artistic and emotional aspects of skating. We love working on the new repertory with these amazingly talented people.”
The legendary danseur Edward Villella brings his aesthetic and talents to the company. Here, he works with Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre rinkside in Sun Valley
“We are all so enthusiastic and passionate about skating and we are motivated to see keep the integrity of skating in an ensemble format.” Webster explained. “It’s an emotional art … one that tells stories. Hopefully what we are doing will transform the way people feel.”
Why keep coming back to Sun Valley? “We are so glad to be back in the valley and to again be creating in this glorious place,” Webster said. “Being outside, being in nature, being around the community here is a real gift to the creative process. It’s a relaxing environment. And it’s so beautiful. I’m always inspired by nature and here you can feel the flow of rivers, the flow of clouds. It’s invigorating to the soul.”
Join Ice Dance International on the evening of September 10 during an hour-long open rehearsal that will showcase works in progress. The rehearsal will take place at the outdoor rink at 5:30 pm. followed by a question and answer session with the creators and the athletes. Admission is free and it promises to be thrilling.
Sun Valley favorite Ryan Bradley is a member of the Ice Dance International ensemble. Be sure to catch the talented ensemble cast at a free open rehearsal on September 10
To further include the community, each day of its residency, Ice Dance International is offering a company class at 9 a.m. every day except Sunday. Skaters are welcome to participate in this 30-minute class (ice time must be purchased).
Be sure not to miss this truly exciting opportunity. It may change the way you look at skating!
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