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“We were a very mixed lot….” With these words, Kurban Said began his famous novel “Ali and Nino.” He was, ostensibly, speaking of the hero’s schoolmates, but in a broader sense he described the complex multi-ethnic reality of Azerbaijan.

As a tribute to this diversity, Silk Road Dance Company created a special program of dances for Azerbaijan Republic Day. The first dance, the Tat duet Astarho, echoed the legacy of chivalry for which the Caucasus is known. Like Ali and Nino, the two dancers themselves represented different heritages; Valeriya Nakshun comes from a Kavkazi Jewish Tat family and Ahmad Maaty is an Egyptian-American Muslim. The song lyrics in the Tat language served as a reminder of the linguistic multiplicity of the Caucasus that so confounded ancient Greeks, that they dubbed the region the ” mountain of tongues.”

For the second piece, the ensemble performed an energetic, all-female Yalli from Naxchivan, birthplace of former President of the Azerbaijan Republic, Heydar Aliyev. The ancient city of Naxchivan, home to many different ethnic and religious groups, endured invasions by Arab, Persian, Turkish, and Mongol armies. The inspiration for presenting this spirited dance came after Silk Road Dance Company’s Artistic Director Dr. Laurel Victoria Gray saw historic footage of the Chinar Group performing the dance. The soloist was Alagoz Salakhova, grand-daughter of legendary People’s Artist of the USSR, Tamara Khanum, the famous dancer who was the first in Uzbekistan to perform in public. By coincidence, Gray had become acquainted with Tamara Khanum in the 1980’s, when she was the first American guest in the artist’s home. Later, Gray met other family members, including Alagoz. Adding this dance to the ensemble’s repertoire created a connection to the lineage of Tamara Khanum as well as to the cultural heritage of Naxchivan.

And perhaps, most appropriately, a program celebrating diversity seemed appropriate since members of Silk Road Dance Company hail from a variety of countries and cultures from both East and West. They, too, “are a very mixed lot.”

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Washington, DC . An Edwardian-themed evening on February 19th will celebrate the Silk Road expeditions of Swedish explorer, Sven Hedin, accompanied by Persian and Central Asian dance performances.

On February 19th, theatre goers will have the opportunity to travel back in time to celebrate the spirit of exploration along the Silk Road. Set in the Edwardian age, the evening at the Arts Club of Washington features a “guest appearance” by the famous Swedish explorer Sven Hedin who will share accounts of his most exciting adventures. Woven throughout the evening will be traditional dance performances by Silk Road Dance Company from the very places Hedin visited, such as Baku, Tehran, and Samarkand.

Known as “the œlast of the great explorers,”Sven Hedin made five journeys to Silk Road regions, including Persia and Central Asia – between 1885 and 1908. He was a prolific writer whose exciting travel accounts captured the public imagination and increased Western awareness of many places, like the Taklamakan desert, that had earlier been just a “white space” on the map.

Baltimore-based actor Sean Coe will portray the man who was the last Swede to be raised to the nobility in recognition of his scientific contributions. Performances by Silk Road Dance Company in beautifully costumed dances will enhance the ethnographic aspect of Hedin’s explorations..

Guests at the concert will be greeted with live Afghan music performed by Tabla for Two, a talented duo that draws upon Central Asian musical traditions. Those who attend the soiree are encouraged, but not required, to dress for the event in their best Edwardian attire – think Downton Abbey – or in traditional Silk Road styles. Another option is to pose for pictures in costumes from the Silk Road photo corner.

The term “Silk Road”  – or seidenstrasse – was originally coined by German geographer Ferdinand von Richthofen, who recognized the economic and cultural significance of the ancient trade routes. His student, Sven Hedin, extensively explored and mapped vast expanses of the Silk Road. Although Hedin’s primary contributions were in the geosciences, his accurate sketches and photographs of the people he met, as well as detailed written accounts, have proven to be ethnographic treasures.

Event organizer, Dr. Laurel Victoria Gray, the Artistic Director of Silk Road Dance Company, planned the evening to coincide with the 150th jubilee of the Swedish explorer who was born in Stockholm on February 19, 1865.  “There seems to be a renewed interest in Hedin’s scientific contributions,” she notes. “Thanks to funding from the National Geographic Society, the Sven Hedin Project has launched expeditions following in the footsteps of Sven Hedin. And the term Silk Road has become quite popular, from Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project to the US State Department’™s New Silk Road Initiative. It may be time for a new generation to discover the individual who devoted so much of his life to exploring the region.”

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MORE INFORMATION
Silk Road Dance Company   www.silkroaddance.com    A Joy of Motion Resident Arts Partner
Tabla for Two                          www.tablafortwo.com
Sven Hedin                             http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/hedin-sven

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by Miriam Asmerom

On Thursday, May 23, 2013, the city of Takoma Park will screen the film of the folkloric ballet, Haft Paykar: Seven Beauties, performed by Silk Road Dance Company. Created by Takoma Park resident. Laurel Victoria Gray, this dance concert features choreography and costuming inspired by seven different Eastern cultures.

Gray’s work is based on Nizami Ganjavi’s poem Haft Paykar (“seven beauties”) is remembered as one of the great narrative epics of medieval Middle Eastern culture. Although Nizami lived in the city of Ganj – located in present day Azerbaijan – he wrote in Persian, the court language of the day. Haft Paykar is a meditation on the beauty of diversity and humanity’s constant quest for perfection.

The story is a simple one — a young Sassanian prince, Bahrām Gur, discovers a locked room in a Yemeni castle where he has been sent for his upbringing.. Opening it, he finds the walls adorned with the portraits of seven beautiful princesses from distant lands; he immediately falls in love with all of them. Each princess comes from a different country and is associated with a specific color, virtue, planet and day of the week.

After a time, Bahrām’s father dies and Bahrām becomes the King of Persia. Upon assuming his throne, he sends for all of seven princesses, intending to marry each of them. He instructs his architect to build each princess her own “dome” – a residence decorated in her signature color scheme and aligned with her particular planet. The king visits a different princess each day of the week — for example, on Saturday he visits the Indian princess who lives in the Black Dome, on Sunday the Rûm princess of the Yellow Dome, and so on. Each princess regales Bahrām with a story that illustrates the virtue she must impart to the king.. From these stories, Bahrām gains wisdom and self-mastery of different aspects of his character.

While Haft Paykar is an allegory about the necessity, and enlightenmen, that comes from diversity, but 12th century style, when you don’t befriend the “other,” you marry them. The epic poem is also a love letter to the wisdom of women. Bahrām Gur would not have become a great king without the uplifting, inspiring, and moral lessons taught by the princesses. His quest for human perfection is nurtured by the wisdom in their instructive tales. By listening and learning, Bahrām Gur reaches his full potential.

Experience the beauty and the poetry of Haft Paykar at the free screening on Thursday, May 23rd at 7:30 PM at the Takoma Park Auditorium 7500 Maple Avenue in Takoma Park, Maryland. Presented as a “red carpet” event, the film premiere will give guests a chance to meet the dancers and the choreographer. Everyone is encouraged to dress up for the “royal” occasion.

Learn more about this event at https://www.facebook.com/events/554094294630800/?ref=ts&fref=ts

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.

BollywoodDanceCostumeRingaRingaSilkRoadDanceCompany15thanniversarybedbugBollywood Fever Dance Concert
http://www.silkroaddance.com
Saturday, March 2, 2013, at 1:30 PM
Lang Theatre at the Atlas Performing Arts Center
1333 H Street NE Washington, DC
CONCERT TICKETS:
Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students and seniors, and can be purchased online:
https://www.vendini.com/ticket-software.html?t=tix&e=ab9a6195833370cda6439e5686cbdac3
PHOTO CREDIT: John G. Walter

Washington, DC – “Bollywood Fever” brings all the color and glitter of Indian film dances to the stage on Saturday, March 2, 2013, at 1:30pm, as part of the 2013 Intersections Festival at the Lang Theatre of the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington, DC. The award-winning Silk Road Dance Company will pay homage to the vibrant dance sequences ever popular in Indian movies. Distinguished Indian dance artist Jayantee Paine-Ganguly and her Jayantika Dance Company will recreate elegant classical dance scenes while guest soloist Ahmad Maaty will add to the playful fun of more light-hearted choreographies. Joy of Motion’s Urban Impact Youth Company will inject fresh energy with a hip hop spin to Bollywood hits.

The term “Bollywood” refers to India’s enormous film industry that is located in Bombay, now known as Mumbai. Although Bollywood choreographies originally drew from classical Indian dance and folk forms, other dance genres such as jazz, hip hop, and belly dance have recently begun to influence the Bollywood style. Bollywood Fever celebrates these dance styles from the ebullient Hindi-language films of Mumbai, visiting some of the subjects most common in Indian film choreographies. A variety of human emotions and experiences – ranging from flirtatious and funny to poignant and touching – will be depicted throughout the program. Ranging from classical to contemporary genres, the choreographies feature music from beloved Bollywood films like Umrao Jaan, Mangal Pandey, Kal Ho Naa Ho, and Slumdog Millionaire. Highlights include a Rajasthani folk dance, a candlelight ritual, a comic number, and – of course – a wedding party! The talents of diverse artists and their sumptuous costumes makes for a dance extravaganza that promises to have the audience up and dancing in the aisles by the finale. As concert director Dr. Laurel Victoria Gray muses, “What better way to say goodbye to the winter blues, than total immersion in an afternoon of sequin-clad escapism?”

The award-winning Silk Road Dance Company (SRDC) presents women’s dances from the Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia, China, and the Caucasus. Founded in 1995, by Dr. Laurel Victoria Gray — adjunct professor at GWU’s Department of Theatre and Dance — the ensemble’s presentations offer a unique glimpse of the culture of little known regions. SRDC has performed abroad in Samarkand, Singapore, Qatar, and Toronto, and throughout the US and the Metro DC area. The company has also been featured at events for the Embassies of Egypt, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkey, and Russia, and is frequently engaged for cultural celebrations in local Turkish, Iranian, South-Asian and Arab communities. SRDC is a Joy of Motion Resident Arts Partner.

INTERSECTIONS is a unique arts festival presented by the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington DC, featuring more than 600 artists in over 100 performances over three weekends. The program includes visual art, film screenings, literary readings, dance, and musical and dramatic productions, plus 20 free café concerts and 25 special events. More information about the Intersections Festival can be found online at http://intersectionsdc.org/

Today is #GivingTuesday!

Today is Giving Tuesday, a national day to show support for non-profits and their good works.

Silk Road Dance Company is a non-profit tax-exempt arts organization devoted to “Cultural Understanding through Beauty and Delight.” You can support our work with a donation, by following us on Facebook and Twitter, and by volunteering.

To show our appreciation for your support, we have a special gift of a beautiful concert DVD that is not commercially available, for a donation of $50.

Learn how you can support our “Caravan of Joy” SRDC at http://www.silkroaddance.com/support

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.

Uzbek Embassy to Host Dance Concert

Please join us on Friday, February 24, 2012, at the beautiful Uzbek Embassy for this exclusive event honoring 20 years of Uzbek – American diplomatic relations.

Silk Road Dance Company will present a concert of Uzbek, Tajik, Uighur, and Azeri dances – all in lavish, colorful costumes. After the concert, enjoy a buffet of traditional Uzbek cuisine. There will also be an open bar. Tickets are $50 per person and are very limited. Proceeds will benefit Silk Road Dance Company, a 501(c)3 tax-exempt arts organization.

All ticket reservations must be completed by February 17, 2012. There will be no ticket sales at the door.

Tickets can be reserved through the PayPal button on the homepage of the Silk Road Dance Company website at
http://www.silkroaddance.com or
https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_flow&SESSION=9CRlhoda2DsUdw9NT-ba5FeWPVuhIKLuIz-BQnvZWraCIY2zPbLJ5a1DpQe&dispatch=5885d80a13c0db1f8e263663d3faee8db2b24f7b84f1819343fd6c338b1d9d60

or by check, mailed to:

Silk Road Dance Company
P. O. Box 11346
Takoma Park, MD 20913

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.

Kurdish Dance Featured in Silk Road Dance Festival


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 12, 2011
CONTACT: Malori Rhones 301-699-1819

SILK ROAD DANCE FESTIVAL
Saturday, November 19, 2011. Dance Workshops from 10 am; Dance Concert at 8 pm
Joe’s Movement Emporium
3309 Bunker Hill Road
Mount Rainier, MD 20712
CONCERT TICKETS: $20 in advance; $25 at door
https://joesmovement.secure.force.com/ticket#details_a0OF0000004F06dMAC
ADULT DANCE WORKSHOPS: $40 in advance: $45 at door
CHILDREN’S DANCE WORKSHOP: $15 in advance; $20 at door.
https://joesmovement.secure.force.com/ticket#sections_a03F0000007wyFFIAY
FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=191021307638219

SILK ROAD DANCE FESTIVAL CELEBRATES
DIVERSITY OF ASIAN CULTURES

Washington, DC – Exuberant dances, lavish costumes, and ancient traditions will entertain audiences at the Silk Road Dance Festival on November 19, at Joe’s Movement Emporium in Mount Rainier. Inspired by the Silk Road theme of the 2002 Smithsonian Folk Festival, the event focuses on the rich diversity of dance found along the celebrated trade route that connected China with the Mediterranean. Daytime activities include dance workshops for adults and children, a Central Asian style “chaikhona” (teahouse), a lecture on Uzbek traditions and a Silk Road bazaar. The festival culminates in an evening concert at 8 pm featuring guest artists from India, Central Asia, and China along with the award-winning Silk Road Dance Company.

Dance workshops in Uzbek, Azerbaijani, Persian, and Kathak styles will be offered at Joe’s Movement Emporium from November 18th to 20th, as part of the 14th Central Asian Dance Camp. Audiences can enjoy these and other pieces in the Saturday night concert that will highlight the Silk Road Dance Festival. Rare and compelling choreographies of Afghan, Azerbaijani, Chinese, Indian, Kazakh, Persian, Tajik, Turkmen, Uighur and Uzbek origin will provide a glimpse into cultures unfamiliar to most Americans.

Featured artists include Jayantee Paine Ganguly, director of Konark Dance School and Jayantika Dance Company, who will perform classical Indian Kathak dance. The Xuejuan Performance Ensemble, a Chinese dance company directed by Xuejuan Feng – a graduate of the Beijing Dance Academy – will present group and solo pieces. Traditional and classical dances of the Uzbek, Tajik, and Uighur people will be performed by Central Asian guest artists and the award-winning Silk Road Dance Company.

Event organizer Dr. Laurel Victoria Gray feels the Silk Road Dance Festival will foster a deeper understanding of the diverse cultures of Asian peoples. “The Uzbeks have a great folk saying that it is better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times. Experiencing these dances in a cohesive concert — all performed in colorful, authentic costumes — will help audiences appreciate the vast range of styles and ethnicities of Silk Road cultures.”

Co-presenters of the Silk Road Dance Festival include the Asia Heritage Foundation, the Uzbek Dance and Culture Society, and World Arts Focus.

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 2011 and 2013, Silk Road Dance Company®. All rights reserved.