Grand Lake: Spend a night in the Middle East |

Grand Lake: Spend a night in the Middle East

Back by popular demand, the Grand Arts Council’s Night in Morocco shimmies its way this year to Caroline’s Cuisine for the fifth annual performance in the Three Lakes area.

The guest star performer is Rafi’ah, one of the Denver area’s most celebrated Middle Eastern dancers. The “eternal student, as well as teacher” has been a guest performer in Grand Lake close to 10 years and has been coming to Grand Lake the past four years to offer intensive workshops.

She is set to perform at least two solo dances for the show ” a Sword Dance and a Zill Dance with finger cymbals.

She has danced most of her life and just “fell in love” with the belly dance style.

“I really connected with it,” she said, pointing out the gracefulness and feminine mystique. She enjoys the tempo changes and said she draws from her dance background, sprinkling in a bit of steps from her knowledge of ballet, jazz, Flamenco and other East Indian dances.

With the ability to be extraordinarily fluid, possessing an almost “boneless quality,” her particular dance style has been deemed “liquid fire.” Accompanying dancers have been in Grand Lake to learn her techniques during a three-day seminar.

Precision and technical skill give Rafi’ah the “ability to dance with a passionate and spontaneous abandon,” said Cathy Walton-Smith, event organizer. “Her performances are deeply evocative and can transport you to an ancient place where you will experience the depth and mysterious beauty of this dance.”

Walton-Smith, a strong supporter of the Grand Arts Council, took her first belly dancing class in Alaska in the 1970s and now teaches belly dance in Granby and Grand Lake (classes start in October).

She said her passion for the dance form “encompasses women’s health, knowledge of self, personal beauty, costume design, rhythm and the hypnotic effect of the music,” and that she brings this to share at every class. Dancing as “Kysheema,” she is set to perform along with several long-time students (including Lyn Philips of Kremmling).

The evening of family entertainment and exotic food includes a full authentic dinner prepared by Caroline’s Chef Jean-Claude Cavalera. The dinner, served buffet style, will include couscous with meat and vegetables, stuffed grape leaves called “dolmas,” hummus dip with pita bread, Middle Eastern salad and baklava for dessert.

An open bar helps guests relax as area and regional belly dancers rock the Casbah.

Tips may be tucked discretely into their costumes and is considered an honor.

Musicians are also welcome to bring their instruments (including drums and tambourines), and guests may have a chance to play rhythm instruments and learn a few dance steps.

Dressing in theme is encouraged.

Seating is limited to 75 people and may not be available at the door (60 tickets were sold as of Tuesday). Reservations or advance ticket purchase is recommended (available at Caroline’s Cuisine, the Grand Lake Art Gallery and Elk Horn Gallery in Winter Park).

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