Inspiration for dance festival |

Inspiration for dance festival

Carolyn Pope
Special to the Daily/Carolyn PopeFrank Johnson and Dr. Tina Fleishman

Ford Park was transformed last Friday night to an African oasis.

The opening night for the International Dance Festival, one of the many events presented by the Vail Valley Foundation, had a true African beat, right down to the drums and animals.

Patrons who help bring the dance festival into Vail are treated royally on opening night with the “International Evenings of Dance.” This year, Arte Davies, whose panache and creativity is always reflected in the gala festivities, managed to take a white tent, strategically set up props ” including the odd wild animal ” and behold, a savannah emerged.

From the parrots and a monkey to trees, animal print fabrics and wooden masks, guests were enthralled with the decor. A trio of drummers greeted the guests, where they were then treated to a superb African buffet ” carved ostrich, anyone? ” prepared under the watchful of Marc DesRosiers and chef Nick Agro of Whirled Peas catering.

And what sets this festival apart from previous years?

“This season is different from past years due to the diversity of the programming,” said Allie Coppeak, senior major gifts officer for the Vail Valley Foundation. “It’s what the audience was asking for.”

Diversity was certainly represented in the dances. From the exquisite pas de trois from Le Corsaire to the edgy, contemporary “Taste of the Moment”, performed by Ilja Louwen and Leo Mujik, to the awe-inspiring gymnastic ballroom dance of South Africa’s Natalie Woolf and Victor da Silva, there was certainly something for everyone.

After the evening of dance, guests filtered back to the tent where they noshed on peanut butter and banana ice cream sandwiches, and tropical fruit fondue. The Bob Finnie Band with Tracy Swearingen singing vocals had everyone dancing.

Of course, no event of this scale can occur without the generosity of its donors. Undewriting the dancers were Pepi and Sheika Gramshammer, Trygve and Vicki Myhren, Betsy and George Wiegers, Mary and Melissa Wolf, the Phil Smiley family, Howard and Judy Berkowitz, Walter and Karen Loewenstern, and Mike and Mary Sue Shannon. Henry and Marie Josee Kravis underwrote opening night.

For more information on the International Dance Festival, please visit the Vail Valley Foundation’s Web site at or call their offices at (970) 949-1999.

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