Tag Archive: Uzbekistan


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.

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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.
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.

Inspired by the 2002 Smithsonian Silk Road Festival, this event celebrates the color and excitment of traditional dances of Silk Road cultures.

Workshops begin at 9 am and include Uzbek and Kathak dance. A bazaar and an Uzbek teahouse – “Chaikhona” – will recreate the colors and flavors of the East.

A gala evening concert beginning at 8 pm will feature the award-winning Silk Road Dance company and special international guest artists from China, India, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

TICKETS $20 in advance/ $25 at door
available online at: https://joesmovement.secure.force.com/ticket#details_a0OF0000004F06dMAC