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Kismet Dance Studio’s Yasamina Roque

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An award-winning dancer, Yasamina Roque is director of Kismet Dance Studio and producer of the Kismet Middle Eastern Dance Festival. She has been dancing since 1972, and holds a degree in communication with a minor in Middle East Studies from the University of Utah. The festival will be held at Liberty Park, Aug. 18-20.

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How does Utah measure up in Middle Eastern dance?

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Based on my 34 years in the business, I believe we have the largest festival of its kind. Our festival was even one of the questions on Jeopardy. The question was, “What state holds the nation’s largest Middle Eastern dance festival?nn

You have your degree in Middle Eastern studies. Wouldn’t wearing costumes and doing dances like yours in the Middle East get a woman killed or maimed?

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Americans should study the history of the Middle East! It is not a desert, and not every Middle Eastern person is a terrorist. However, I wouldn’t suggest producing a belly-dance festival in Saudi Arabia or Iran.

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How many times have people inquired if belly dance is the same as stripping?

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Rarely. In fact, my dancers are very popular at Mormon bachelor parties.

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With so many dominant female performers, will any males take the stage?

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Yes, Gypsy Caravan. Alex is the male dancer from Payson, Utah, and I will be front-and-center when he performs. Whew! He is incredible!

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Do you want to see Middle Eastern dance become mainstream?

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Yes. I know I will not be recognized in my lifetime for my contribution to the arts but I am leaving a legacy for other young women to follow my undulations and empowering other women and creating leaders. Belly dance is about empowerment and camaraderie, not competition.

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