Category: Silk Road Dance Company


 

by Gordiya Khademian

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On June 5, 2016, Silk Road Dance Company helped represent Iran at the Fiesta Asia street fair in Washington DC. This was the first time Iran has ever been represented at Fiesta Asia, thanks to the hard work of a group of young Iranian-American professionals in the Washington, DC area.

After an initial procession of costumes and banners down Pennsylvania Avenue, representing countries across the continent of Asia, Silk Road Dance Company first performed on the main stage, with the impressive Capitol Building creating a striking image behind them. Their performance, choreographed by Dr. Laurel Gray, consisted of three selections: Spring Rain in the Rose Gardens of Esfahan -a classical-style Persian dance to instrumental music; a Balochi folkloric dance; and a contemporary Persian dance to Moein’s Zendegi ba Toh.

Silk Road Dance Company performed again at the Iran tent for a smaller, more intimate audience. The day was filled with energy and excitement as people learned more about Iran’s diverse culture, dress, music, and dance. It was an honor to be able to share this heritage in our nation’s capital. .

Silk Road Dance Company from an early performance. Nyla, who suggested the name for the ensemble, is shown in green on the far right.

Silk Road Dance Company from an early performance. Nyla, who suggested the name for the ensemble, is shown in green on the far right.

Evoking images of exotic places and treasure-laden caravans, the Silk Road appeals to the popular imagination. Over the past decade, Silk Road cultures have gained new audiences with an increased awareness of the history and geography of the region. Much of the credit for this goes to cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the seeds that were sewn when he launched his Silk Road Project in 1998.

Momentum gathered with the epic 2002 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington DC. This wildly successful event was entitled The Silk Road: Connecting Cultures, Creating Trust and “celebrated the living traditional arts of peoples of Silk Road lands.”

But Silk Road Dance Company®, founded in 1995, traces its roots to an even earlier source of inspiration – a 1982 performance at the Asia Society in New York. Although Laurel Victoria Gray, who later founded the Silk Road Dance Company, did not attend this concert, she learned of it when a fellow graduate student in the PhD program at the University of Washington handed her clipping from that week’s New York Times. It was the October 29, 1982, article by Jennifer Dunning “In Song and Dance Along the Silk Route,” illustrated with a photograph of one of the concert’s female performers.

For Gray, who was already deeply involved in ethnic dance of Central Asia, the Caucasus, and the Middle East, reading the article was a galvanizing moment. “For years I had been searching for descriptors for the dances in my personal repertoire and that of my ensemble,” Gray explains. “All the terms seemed so lengthy and awkward. When I saw the title of the New York Times article, everything came into focus. Of course, I knew about the Great Silk Road, and how it was the connective thread that united these diverse cultures. From that moment on, I began to use the term ‘Silk Road’ to identify my work.”

Gray had fallen in love with Uzbek dance when she met People’s Artist of Uzbekistan Qizlarhon Dusmuhamedova in 1979 and attended her performance with the Bakhor Ensemble at Seattle University. She added Central Asian dance to the growing repertoire of her group which she renamed Tanavar Dance Ensemble in 1982 in honor of a famous genre of Uzbek women’s dances. Soon their concerts and publicity identified them with the cultures of the Silk Road.

Gray returned to Uzbekistan in 1984 as a cultural representative with a Seattle-Tashkent Sister City Delegation led by Mayor Charles Royer. At the invitation of Uzbekistan Vatan Society, Gray traveled to Uzbekistan to continue her dance studies. In 1988 and 1989, Uzbekistan’s Union of Theatrical Workers invited her to bring delegations as part of an ongoing cultural exchange program, causing Gray to identify Seattle as “a new stop on the ancient Silk Road.”

In 1986, Gray released “An Introduction to Uzbek Dance,” the first volume in a proposed “Dances of the Silk Road” video series. New York Times dance critic, Jennifer Dunning, noted that this video “focuses on women’s dance but offers intriguing looks at the basic arm gestures and characteristic movements of the forms as well as the costumes, jewelry and music associated with the dances.”

Later in the 80s, Gray visited New York and was invited to visit the Asia Society by Beate Gordon, who had seen the first volume of Dances of the Silk Road. “It was such an honor,” remembers Gray. “And it also gave me a sense of connecting to an important source of my inspiration.”

When Gray left Seattle in 1992 to continue her dance studies in Uzbekistan for two years, Tanavar Dance Ensemble gave a few more performances but waited for Gray’s return. She did come back to Seattle for several months before relocating to the East Coast in the summer of 1994.

As Gray began to meet and work with Washington DC area dancers, a small core of students expressed an interest in exploring Central Asian and Persian dance in greater depth. And when the dancer Nyla approached her about performing for Persian weddings, Gray saw the opportunity to create a Washington DC-based performance group.

Soon auditions were held and students began to learn Gray’s repertoire. They also gathered to work on building more costumes. Gray brought several of the Tanavar Dance Ensemble costumes with her from Seattle, but needed new ones for additional choreographies.

But what to name the group? Gray considered reviving the name Tanavar since the Seattle group was inactive, but it was Nyla who made the fateful suggestion. Laurel recalls the moment. Nyla said “you are always talking about the Silk Road, so why don’t you call us ‘Silk Road?”’

And Nyla was right so, in 1995, Silk Road Dance Company was born.

The tiny group graduated from weddings to their first public concert – “Persian Night”- held on February 6, 1996. By 2001, Silk Road Dance Company made it to the Kennedy Center stage for the first time.

The ensemble’s continued success convinced Gray to register “Silk Road Dance Company” as a trademark, which was accomplished thanks to a student who was also an attorney and arranged for her firm to help on a pro bono basis. The process proved to be a time-consuming task, but fortunately Gray’s academic training in history taught her to save documentation, helping to prove their long existence. In 2005, the the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued a Certificate of Trademark Registration to this organization for the mark “Silk Road Dance Company (R).”

It has been an exciting journey but it is one that is far from over. Silk Road Dance Company® has performed in 15 different states and also in four foreign countries, at the invitation and expense of celebrated hosts.

“So many events converged to make this all happen,” reflects Gray. “From my first meeting with Qizlarhon to the New York Times article, from my move from Seattle to Washington DC, to my student who facilitated our trademark – all these things look like kismet.

Yes, it must be kismet. Fate.

In 2005, the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued a Certificate of Trademark Registration to this organization for the mark “Silk Road Dance Company (R)” This federal trademark registration empowers and obligates the Silk Road Dance Company to police the use of this mark and to prevent any confusingly similar use. By federal statute anyone violating the rights of a trademark registrant is subject to paying the attorneys’ fees and up to triple damages to the holder of the trademark registrations.

Further, in accordance with the U.S. Internal Revenue Code requirements, the name “Silk Road Dance Company (R)” is not available for use to promote commercial endeavors or unauthorized nonprofit activities. This prohibition extends not only to express statements of promotion, but also to implied statements of promotion.

In addition, all materials on the website of Silk Road Dance Company(R) are protected under copyright law and are not available for use by others without the written consent of the copyright holder.

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by Miriam Asmerom

On October 26 , 2013, Silk Road Dance Company will present Egypta – a dance drama inspired by ancient Egypt – at Baltimore’s Walters Museum. Dr. Laurel Victoria Gray created Egypta from a suite of six pieces she initially set on a German ensemble in 1995. Looking back however, Egypta has roots that go back to the pioneer of modern dance, Ruth St. Denis, one of the first American choreographers to introduce Eastern dance traditions into the American mainstream. Gray named her dance production after the famous work Egypta by St. Denis, both as a tribute to the original seed of Egypta’s current incarnation. After all, the dance which Silk Road Dance Company will perform at the Walters Museum is an even more progressive, open-ended take on Egypta.

Though today’s choreographers obviously don’t really know what Ancient Egyptian dance looked like, movements are usually performed as stiff and awkward. Gray bucked the traditional interpretation. Her logic? “This civilization was extremely sophisticated; these people performed brain surgery. We are still unable to explain precisely how the pyramids were built, let alone replicate the endeavor. Why do we think their dances were so simplistic?” Instead, Gray constructed a more rhythmic, fluid dance based on Alan Lomax’s theory of choreometrics. Lomax links certain styles of dance to levels of development in a civilization — for instance, a society with a centralized government will have a generally different style of dance than an agrarian one. Using this theory, Gray approached the famous tomb paintings that appear on the interior of pyramid walls as snapshots of Pharaonic dance. She also incorporated elements of East African dance into the performance, noting that “white male archeologists of the Victorian era tried to detach Egypt from the rest of Africa, even denying the obviously African appearance of many of the individuals depicted in paintings and statuary. It is time to put Egypt back into Africa.”

The German ensemble of Raqs Sharqi was first to work with Gray on her depiction of Ancient Egyptian dance. In fact, they were the test subjects for the six dances that would come to comprise the core of Egypta – Egypt is the Gift of the Nile, On the Land, Pyramids, Foreign Domination. Banquet Dance, and the Death of Egypt. Though the production went through a series of hiccups, Egypta was performed in Dusseldorf, Germany in February of 1997 where it premiered to great critical acclaim. It was then taken to Memmingen in April of that same year, with Gray traveling from the US to perform a new piece, Priestess of the Snake Goddess Reneutet and the celebration of Bastet. Seattle’s Delilah joined the production, performing the roles of the Goddess Hathor and Cleopatra.

The new costumes worn in Egypta also bear notice. Instead of the gold metallic fabric, stiff collars, and huge headdresses which normally characterize Hollywood depictions of Ancient Egypt, Gray moved to more patterned textiles to forge a deeper connection with Egypta’s African roots as well as ancient Egyptian fabrics. The large headdresses were reserved for gods and goddesses since they tended to curtail movement and contributed to stiffness normally associated with Ancient Egyptian dance. With significant costuming contributions by Elizabeth Barrett Groth, a designer who was then a student at George Washington University, the new choreographies by Gray got an excting new look that drew on historical traditions. By updating the costume choice and staying away from Hollywood sterotypes, along with the innovative choreography, Gray created one of the first truly revised portraits of ancient Egyptian dance.

Gray continued to refine her work on Egypta with a performance by Silk Road Dance Company in July of 1998 at Baltimore’s International Festival. Now, Egypta returns to Baltimore, almost twenty years after its first inception. With grants from the Kennedy Center in 2003 and many past performances, the production has bloomed into a full length dance concert. As the Washington Post wrote of a 2004 performance, “The evening was a visual treat of whirling, glittery costumes, fluid movement narrative, rich exotic music, and a dance troupe that was clearly having fun.”

Sources:
1. http://www.egypta.org/about-egypta.html
2. http://www.silkroaddance.com/egypta.html
3. http://www.egypta.org

Silk Road Dance Company is a 501(c)3 exempt tax non-profit organization.
Silk Road Dance Company ® is a Registered Trademark
The contents of this blogpost, including all text and images, are protected and may
not be used without the express written permission of Silk Road Dance Company®.
Copyright 2013, Silk Road Dance Company®. All rights reserved.

by Rachel Zappala

Ahmad Maaty and the Silkies perform "Gur Nalo Ishq Mitha" at their "Bollywood Fever: concert, part of the 2013 Intersections Festival.

Ahmad Maaty and the Silkies perform “Gur Nalo Ishq Mitha” at Silk Road Dance Compay’s BOLLYWOOD FEVER concert, part of the 2013 Intersections Festival.

On March 2, 2013, the Silk Road Dance Company (SRDC) graced the stage of the Atlas Performing Arts Center’s Lang Theatre with their Bollywood Fever concert. Part of the annual Intersections Festival, this magnificent evening of sequin-clad escapism was beloved by more than just audience members; Bollywood Fever was a high-point of the performance season for many of the “Silkies,” as the members of Silk Road Dance Company are affectionately known.

Kat, one of the Silkies involved in Bollywood Fever, perfectly summarized her feelings towards the show. According to her, the fun music and lighthearted energy that Bollywood dancing creates in the rehearsal studio make for a bright spot in her week. This sentiment is certainly shared by many of her sister Silkies.

Shiraz, a new Silky who travels two hours from Delaware to get to SRDC rehearsals, loved her Bollywood Fever experience. Coming from an Arabic dance background, this was her first time ever time performing Bollywood dance. Her favorite part of the performance process has been how it has allowed her to access a different culture. “Dancing is universal,” she succinctly stated during a SRDC rehearsal. “Through different dance styles, you can appreciate other cultures and what they have to offer.”

Bollywood is also a departure from the norm for Ahmad, an Egyptian-American dancer and actor who recently earned his MFA from Pace University. He usually performs Arabic and Uzbek dance with SRDC but ever since the company’s Artistic Director, Dr. Laurel Victoria Gray introduced him to the style, he has loved the friendly, warm, and inviting energy that Bollywood dance exudes. His favorite pieces in Bollywood Fever are two seeming opposites – the Rajasthani Ghoomar dance which he loves for its tribal, grounded, high-energy movement, and the Kathak-inspired Suno Re, a piece that he describes as ethereal and appreciates for the peaceful and pleasant break that it provides from the rest of the high-energy pieces in the show.

Nilufar also loves the excitement and shared energy of Bollywood dancing. However, for her, the Bollywood Fever is much more personally significant. Originally from Uzbekistan, Nilufar takes great pride in her Central Asian origin. (After all, it was the Uzbek conqueror Babur who established India’s Moghul dynasty.) She sees Bollywood Fever not just as fun, but as a way for her to fulfill her duty to preserve and promote her Central Asian culture. Nilufar is also feels inspired and empowered while dancing Bollywood pieces. “For moments in the show, you get to experience being another person. It gives you a chance to have another life.”

Silk Road Dance Company is a 501(c)3 exempt tax non-profit organization.
Silk Road Dance Company ® is a Registered Trademark
The contents of this blogpost, including all text and images, are protected and may
not be used without the express written permission of Silk Road Dance Company®.
Copyright 2013, Silk Road Dance Company®. All rights reserved.

CherryBlossomFestivalSilkRoadDanceCompanyTidalBasin2012smallCelebrate Spring!

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Dear Friends of Silk Road Dance Company,

Spring is just around the corner and so is Nowruz (also known as Navruz), the ancient celebration of the New Year observed at the Vernal Equinox and part of many Silk Road cultures.

Silk Road Dance Company has a full slate of performances in March, so we hope you can join us for at least one of these joyous events.

More concert details and links on our official website:
http://www.silkroaddance.com

MARCH CALENDAR

March 2 Bollywood Fever
Intersections Festival
1:30 PM Lang Theatre
Washington DC

March 9 Dance Metro DC
New Choreography
“The Pearl of the Gulf”
Intersections Festival
4:00 PM Lab Theatre

March 9 Dance Bethesda
Round House Theatre
7:20 PM Concert Prelude

March 9 Nowruz Celebration
Sheraton Premiere at Tyson’s Corner
Dinner at 8:30 PM

March 15 Nowruz Banquet
8:00 PM Columbus Grill
Manassas, Virgnia

March 16 Nowruz Commission
Mellon Auditorium
Invitation Only

March 17 Nowruz Celebration
Reston Towne Center

March 23 Wedding Celebration
Private Event

March 24 to be announced

March 30 to be announced

Save 10% on tickets for March 2, 2013

BOLLYWOOD FEVER — our exciting concert

celebrating the color and excitment of the Indian film industry.

Order your tickets by February 22nd,
and save 10% by using the code “SILKY.”

Follow this link and select your seats:
https://www.vendini.com/ticket-software.html?t=tix&e=ab9a6195833370cda6439e5686cbdac3


Silk Road Dance Company is a 501(c)3 exempt tax non-profit organization.
Silk Road Dance Company ® is a Registered Trademark
The contents of this blogpost, including all text and images, are protected and may
not be used without the express written permission of Silk Road Dance Company®.
Copyright 2013, Silk Road Dance Company®. All rights reserved.

Rose of Isfahan

Roses, Roses, Roses!

Silk Road Dance Company’s repertoire of over 130 dances included several choreographies inspired by roses, all created by our Artistic Director since our founding in 1995. Two pieces — The Rose of Isfahan (2002) and Spring Rain in the Rose Garden (1995) — draw on Persian Classical dance vocabulary.

Two other dances — Desert Rose and Al Ward al Foll (The Perfume of the Rose) — use Arabic music. Desert Rose has contemporary elements, including silk veils. More traditional, Al Ward al Foll, employs folkloric Egyptian Saiidi music and dance elements.

Why roses? Perhaps they are so cherished in the East. For example, the celebrated Rose of Isfahan has an intense perfume and delicate flower, making it a long-time favorite with gardeners.

We enjoy sharing these enchanting dances with our audiences, reminding them of the exquisite beauty of Nature.

Silk Road Dance Company is a 501(c)3 exempt tax non-profit organization.
Silk Road Dance Company ® is a Registered Trademark
The contents of this blogpost, including all text and images, are protected and may
not be used without the express written permission of Silk Road Dance Company®.
Copyright 2013, Silk Road Dance Company®. All rights reserved.


The color and grace of Central Asian women’s dance will enliven the Seattle Asian Art Museum when DC-based Silk Road Dance Company presents a series of public programs and concerts on Saturday May 5th. The award-winning ensemble will share rare dance traditions in stunning costumes in conjunction with the current “Colors of the Oasis” exhibition of Uzbek textiles.

Seattle, Washington — The award-winning Silk Road Dance Company will share the beauty of Uzbek dance at the Seattle Asian Art Museum on May 5, 2012. Based in Washington, D.C., the dance ensemble will present family friendly daytime shows as well as two evening concerts in conjunction with the Colors of the Oasis exhibit of Central Asian textiles.

SAAM’s current Colors of the Oasis exhibition features dazzling textiles that were created in the oasis cities of Central Asia, primarily Uzbekistan. Silk Road Dance Company’s extensive repertoire of Uzbek dances and colorful traditional costumes will provide another dimension to exhibit. Family friendly daytime programs at 11 am, noon, and 1 pm, are free to the public. Tickets are required for the 6 pm and 8 pm evening concerts and can be reserved online.

Silk Road Dance Company performs throughout the US and internationally in Uzbekistan, Qatar and Canada. The ensemble’s pioneering performances offer a unique glimpse of the life and art of little known cultures, especially the Islamic world

Silk Road Dance Company (SRDC) has deep ties to the Seattle area through Artistic Director Laurel Victoria Gray, who founded the ensemble in 1995. A native of Washington state and former Seattle resident, Gray was active in the Seattle-Tashkent Sister City Association and lived in Tashkent for two years to study traditional dance and culture.

Seattle residents can also study dance with Gray while she is in Seattle. She will help prepare a Silk Road themed marching team that will participate in the 2012 Fremont Solstice Parade. Rehearsals will take place at VDP studio, a business owned by Delilah Flynn, a Fremont resident and professional dancer who has for 20 years has organized dance teams for the parade.

Info on Silk Road Fremont Parade classes:
http://visionarydance.com/seattle-studio/class-info/solstice-parade-2012/

Online ticket for Silk Road Dance Company SAAM concerts:
http://www.seattleartmuseum.org/calendar/eventDetail.asp?eventID=23980&month=4&day=5&year=2012&sxID=&WHEN=
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Silk Road Dance Company is a 501(c)3 exempt tax non-profit organization.
Silk Road Dance Company ® is a Registered Trademark
The contents of this blogpost, including all text and images, are protected and may
not be used without the express written permission of Silk Road Dance Company®.
Copyright 2012 and 2013, Silk Road Dance Company®. All rights reserved.

Come and celebrate at the first Persian Wine Dinner to help with the coming of Norooz at Columbus Grill on Friday March 16th, 2012 at 8pm. Columbus Grill is located at 8349 Centreville Road Manassas, VA 20111. http://www.columbusgrill.net Tickets are $78.00 per person.

Authentic Wines made from the Shiraz grapes originating in Persia. Authentic Persian Foods and pastries and authentic persian entertainment. This is going to be a night to remember.

Read on folks and find out why this is going to be a one in a million chance to learn about another exciting culture. To drink wines from Shiraz grapes, eat authentic Persian foods and watch awesome persian entertainment and dance to persian music. Come and join us, you will not be disappointed.

Norooz, commemorating the New Year, has been celebrated in Iran, formerly Persia, throughout nearly three millennia of its recorded history. Norooz begins at the vernal equinox, the first day of spring season, a day of rejuvenation and reconciliation, and, reinvigorations and rebirth. Norooz’s arrival is symbolized in nature by the sprouting of greens and grains, flowers and trees.

The Norooz holidays of today span from Charshanbeh Suri (jumping over the bonfire to absorb its reddish healthy strength, while getting rid of one’s yellow unhealthy state of being), on the evening preceding the last Wednesday of the old year, climaxing at Norooz, and concluding with Sizdah Bedar, the thirteenth day of the New Year. Iranians spend the last day of the holidays at a picnic in the orchards, on the prairies, by the seaside, or in the foothills where they eat and drink, dance and sing, and play and joke. On that day, the single women knot grass together in the hope of marriage before the next Norooz! Integral to Norooz are the visits exchanged and paying tribute to the elders, as well as receiving monetary and other gifts from them.

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Appetizer: Salad Olivia – A traditional Iranian dish made for special occasions. It is similar to American potato salad, but with chicken and lots of lemon. Very refreshing. Served with Lavash bread, sabzi (greens) and feta cheese.

Wine: Jaboulet Rose
Description: “Very bright, deep salmon color. Intense and rich aromas of very ripe red fruits — strawberry, black currant, and raspberry. Well rounded, full and generous, its long finish is emphasized by fresh aromas of very ripe red fruits with a hint of spice”.
Taste: subtle notes of strawberry which is joined by clean tart berry flavors
Country: France
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First Course: KooKoo Sabzi – Persian Frittata with various fresh green herbs
Wine: Wishing Tree Shiraz
Description: “Bright ruby. Fresh blackberry and spices on the nose, with a hint of white pepper and a suave mocha quality. Silky, gently sweet red and dark berry flavors are lifted by tangy acidity and are given a bitter edge by a late note of licorice. Refreshing, fat-free shiraz with good closing cut.”
Taste: currant, blueberry, blackberry, and strawberry
Country: Australia
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Second course: Sabzi Polo ba Mahi – basmati rice tinted vivid green with herbs and served with fried fish.
Wine: Layer Cake Shiraz
Description: “Dark, dense and creamy, complex aromas of black plum, Bing cherry, blackberry and pepper merge with licorice, tobacco, mocha and dark chocolate. This is one inky Shiraz; an explosion of dark, super ripe, wild blackberry, with a touch of cigar box finishing with a mélange of exotic spices. A pure fruit bomb…complete from attack through a long, lingering finish.
Taste: currant, blueberry, blackberry, and strawberry
Country: Australia
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Dessert: Various Persian Pastries
Wine: The Jumping Grape “Sparkling” Shiraz
Description: A blend of 80% shiraz and 20% cabernet. Deep red. Raspberry, cherry and cracked pepper on the nose, with a subtle floral quality adding complexity. Pliant, juicy red berry flavors are a touch sweet and given a bitter edge by a note of dark chocolate. The sweetness repeats on the finish, which is nicely persistent and raspberry-dominated.
Taste: Red Berries
Country: Australia
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ENTERTAINMENT WILL BE PROVIDED BY THE SILK ROAD DANCE COMPANY

1st Entertainment Set

1. GHASSEMABADI – From the southern Caspian region, this Iranian folk dance celebrates the bounty of Nature. The movements depict the work of the women in the fields
Choreography and Costume: Laurel Victoria Gray
2. SPRING RAIN IN THE ROSE GARDEN – Elegant ladies venture out into the garden to see the first roses of spring, only to be caught in a sudden downpour. Happily, the sun returns and they remain in the garden, enjoying the beauty of nature.
3. CHESH CHESH – Dancers in this choreography wear the shaliteh skirt that became popular at the Persian court of Nasseredin Shah in the late 19th century. According to some legends, these skirts were inspired by the skirts of the European ballet dancers the Shah saw in his 1873 visit to Paris.
The dancers perform flirtatious gestures to the song ”Chesh Chesh,” that speak of the eyes, the eyebrows and the lips of a beautiful girl.
Choreography and Costume Design: Laurel Victoria Gray
4. MUHABBAT – The song lyrics to this Afghani dance express a sense of longing. While the girl must remain home behind closed doors, her beloved is free to roam the world.
Choreography: People’s Artist of Uzbekistan Isaqar Aquilov
5. NALBEKI – Offering tea to guests is a traditional gesture of hospitality in the East. In this challenging dance reflects the skill of the performers who balances delicate tea glasses during their performance.

2nd Entertainment Set

1. LARZON – In Kurdish, ”larzan” means ”to shake or tremble.” This festive line dance is based on traditional Kurdish folk dance steps. The fiery energy of this piece melts the snows of Winter.
Choreography: Keylan Qazzaz
2. BOI BOI – This energetic, playful piece features a 6 rhythm accented by dancers wearing bells on their wrists.  Choreography: Kizalrkhon Dusmukhamedov. 
3. TULIPS OF TAJIKISTAN – The promise of rebirth and renewal awaits in the spring. In Tajikistan, wild tulips cover the hillsides in spring and the word ”lola,” meaning tulip, is a popular girl’s name. This dance was inspired by Tajik dancers who worked with Silk Road Dance Company in Samarkand in 2005. We offer it as a joyous gift of hope.
Choreography: Laurel Victoria Gray
4. AZZIZAM – Drawing from the elegant lines and garments of Persian Saffavid miniature paintings, this classical Persian dance choreography is set to a song by the popular Iranian singer, Haydeh. Choreography and costumes: Laurel Victoria Gray
5. RAQS-E-PARI – In Persian folktales, the ”pari” was a beautiful, fairy-like creature who sometimes visited the realm of mortals. In this dance, paris are lured to earth with joyous music, enchanting everyone with their loveliness.
Choreography: Laurel Victoria Gray

==================================================================================================

This event is going to be off the hook! If you have enjoyed the wine dinners in the past you don’t want to miss this one!!
After a wonderful sit down dinner and entertainment you can dance your heart away with persian music!!
These dinners are always a sell out so get your tickets early!!
Tickets must be prepaid to reserve your seat. To buy your tickets, which are $78.00 per person, please email contact@columbusgrill.net or call 703-861-7834. You will be sent an invoice to pay for your tickets.

Kizlarkhon Dusmukhamedova (r) and Laurel Victoria Gray


Kizlarkhon Dusmukhamedova, People’s Artist of Uzbekistan, is a world class dance artist who has visited the US fifteen times since 1979. Silk Road Dance Company is honored that Kizlarkhon is our Central Asian Dance Consultant and that she hasplayed such an active role in the development of our ensemble.

Silk Road Dance Company is located in the Washington DC area. We have cultivated a genuine and successful cultural exchange with Uzbekistan as well as other Central Asian and Middle Eastern cultures.

The origin of our Uzbek relationship dates back to the Soviet era when, in 1979, as a doctorial candidate in Russian and Soviet History at the University of Washington, our Artistic Director – Laurel Victoria Gray – volunteered to translate for a group of touring artists from Uzbekistan. (She had been to Uzbekistan as a teenager in 1973. ) That is when she first met the exceptional, superlative Uzbek dance artist, Kizlarkhon Dusmukhamedova, and began a lifelong exploration of Central Asian dance culture.

The details of meeting between Laurel Victoria Gray and Kizlarkhon Dusmukhamedova and their subsequent friendship can be found at http://laurelvictoriagray.com/bio.htm

Seattle and Tashkent became sister-cities in 1973. In fact, they were the very first Soviet-American sister cities. Many fledgling cultural exchanges between the US and the USSR were first launched through this historic relationship. Laurel became active in this committee and participated in numerous cultural exchanges, including Mayor Royer’s 1984 trip to Tashkent.

Thanks to the Seattle-Tashkent Sister City Committee, Kizlarkhon returned to Seattle in 1982 with an official delegation from Tashkent and worked with Laurel and her dancers. Laurel continued to work on Soviet-American cultural exchange, inviting Kizlarkhon and other Uzbek artists to the US in 1989 and 1990.

This non-currency cultural exchange blossomed into the historic Seattle Soviet Theatre Arts Exchange, in which 30 theatre artists traveled to Uzbekistan and had home stays in Tashkent while presenting several concerts throughout the city, including performances at the lkhom Theatre.

This cultural exchange was the topic of Laurel’s 2009 Fulbright Association Selma Jeanne Cohen Lecture. Photos of this historic exchange – including pictures of Kizlarkhon – can be viewed at this link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYbtFKGpDY0 )

Through Kizlarkhon’s generous spirit, Laurel was the first American to seriously study and perform Uzbek dance. She was invited to Uzbekistan many times to continue her dance studies and lived there for two years in 1992 and 1993. In order to share what she had learned and keep this precious legacy alive, Laurel has trained many dancers — both in the US and abroad –and, after moving to DC, created the Silk Road Dance Company in 1995.

With a colleague, Travis Jarrell, Laurel founded the Central Asian Dance Camp in 1995. They began by teaching the first classes themselves. Then in 1998, Laurel began inviting Kizlarkhon to the US to share her knowledge directly with a new generation of American dancers.

Now that Laurel lives in the DC area, she has been instrumental in inviting Kizlarkhon almost every year to come to the US to teach and perform for a small but dedicated group of Americans who are serious about mastering Central Asian dance.

Kizlarkhon embodies a traditional dance style which is rarely seen today but it lives on in her students. She has gifted Silk Road Dance Company with many famous Uzbek dances for our repertoire — Guldasta, Dil Kroch, Kungil Taronasi, Samarkand Ushoqi, Tong Malikasi, Gozel, Katta Oyin, Keling Gular, and many more. Silk Road Dance Company brings these traditional dances to American audiences.

Yes, American women performing Uzbek dances! This is genuine cultural exchange.
And in the spirit of cultural exchange, the Uzbeks have reciprocated. In 2005, Silk Road Dance Company was the first US dance company to be invited to perform at the Samarkand Sharq Taronalari Festival.

Silk Road Dance Company has been instrumental in sharing Uzbek culture with Americans for many years, with performances throughout the Washington DC area, as well as 14 different states, Uzbekistan, Canada, and Qatar. We have also presented programs at the State Department, the Secret Service, the National Defense University and Fort Meade.

Over the years, Silk Road Dance Company has been frequently called upon to perform at the Embassy of Uzbekistan in DC by many different ambassadors. Laurel herself performed for President Karimov when he came to the dedication of the Uzbek Embassy in DC. ( She had also performed in the first two Independence Day celebrations in Tashkent and was the English style editor of Karimov’s first book.)

Last year, in 2010, Ambassador Ilkhom Nematov and his wife attended Silk Road Dance Company’s 15th anniversary concert. Most recently, Silk Road Dance Company the featured dancers at the 20th anniversary celebration of Uzbek independence in DC.

A glimpse of this performance can be seen on the VOA Uzbek Service broadcast. Excerpts begin about 2:00 minutes into the program.
http://www.voanews.com/uzbek/news/central-asia/Uzbek-Embassy-Independence-Day-129160838.html

Silk Road Dance Company is a 501(c)(3) non-profit tax-exempt arts organization. We are dedicated artists who deeply love and appreciate Uzbek traditional culture. We endeavor to honor this legacy in all of our performances.

Silk Road Dance Company is a 501(c)3 exempt tax non-profit organization.
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