If you’re anything like me, professional dance conjures up thoughts of New York City and an urban landscape. I’m pleased to report that the fine art of ballet and mountains are not mutually exclusive. Enter the Vail International Dance Festival, which traces its roots to a serendipitous moment in 1989 when the Bolshoi Ballet Academy had a cancelled tour date in Texas and needed a replacement location on their itinerary. At the same time, the Vail Valley Foundation decided they should seek avenues to employ one of their beautiful venues, the Gerald Ford Amphitheater. The Bolshoi dancers were so warmly greeted by the mountain community that an annual relationship began. What began as a one time performance branched out into a dance academy, teacher conferences, and ultimately what the Vail International Dance Festival is today; a yearly celebration of arts, athletics, and education run by Damien Woetzel. As a former dancer himself, Woetzel has a deep understanding of what makes a great roster for any dance event. He is a famed dancer who spent much of his professional careering performing for New York City Ballet. Today his efforts include the festival we know and love here in Colorado and also Celebrate the Beat, a program that focuses on teaching arts to underserved students in the public education system.The founding choreographers of New York City Ballet, George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, will kick off the festival this year on July 29th with New York City Ballet Moves, a medley of dance styles. If you are a fan of Dancing with the Stars, check out how it’s actually done at the Ballroom Spectacular. Other highlights of the festival include a few free performances and master classes as well. Dancing in the Streets is an evening of dance open to the community for anyone who would like to attempt to sashay. Also keep an eye out for Village Vignettes, surprise performances in Vail Village, where - you guessed it - no tickets are required. It’s like a flash mob minus the amateurs and plus professional dancers.The 2012 season is scheduled for July 29th through August 11th and the performance list is here. Tickets range from $20 to $80 depending on seating. If you would like to purchase tickets, box office hours for the Gerald Ford Amphitheater are 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday and two hours prior to each scheduled performance on Sundays. Or call 888-920-ARTS(2787). More information is available here.