Central Asia Cultures

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< About Silk Road Dance Company

From ritual Zoroastrian dance to joyful Persian weddings, lyrical Uzbek Ferghana and acrobatic Bukhara, the Silk Road Dance company performs traditional pieces from across the region. Brilliant, flowing silks and graceful, evocative movements combine with haunting melodies and exuberant timpani to enchant audiences with the traditional dances from the countries of the Silk Road.

We would be pleased to book this fabulous dance company for you, and help advise you of a repertoire choice.

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 by Artistic Director Dr. Laurel Victoria Gray in 1995, the ensemble's performances offer a unique glimpse of the life, culture, and art of little known regions. Silk Road Dance Company is dedicated to the preservation, promulgation, and evolution of women's endangered dance forms, traditions, and costumes from cultures along the Great Silk Road trade route linking China with the Mediterranean.

The Fulbright Association selected Dr. Gray to deliver the annual Selma Jeanne Cohen International Dance Scholar Lecture at their 2009 conference. The presentation on traditional Uzbek dance includes performances by Silk Road Dance Company from their “Legacy Repertoire.” SRDC has been included in the Maryland State Arts Council Touring Rooster.

SRDC has won deep respect from the members of the communities represented by the company's repertoire. They were the first American dance ensemble to win an invitation to perform in Samarkand, Uzbekistan at the UNESCO-sponsored Sharq Taronalari International Festival; they were also the subject of specials on Uzbek and Arabic television and featured in US magazines as well as foreign newspapers and websites. SRDC has performed at events for the Embassies of Egypt, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Kazakhstan and Russia, and are frequently engaged by numerous cultural organizations in the local Turkish, Iranian, Arab and Central Asian communities for their festivals & celebrations.

In 2003, SRDC won the International Academy of Middle Eastern Dance Award for Best Dance Company. That same year Artistic director Gray was won a Kennedy Center Local Dance Commissioning Project award; SRDC presented Gray’s Egypta: Myth, Magic, and Mystery' as part of the Kennedy Center's Prelude Festival. A Joy of Motion Community Arts Partner, the ensemble has been a six-time finalist for the Metro DC Awards. Artistic Director Gray won the 2006 Metro DC Dance Award for “Excellence in Costume Design.”

SRDC has performed nationally at Warner Bros Studios, Houston's Museum of Fine Arts, Chicago's Field Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, San Antonio's annual 'Coronation of the Queen', North Carolina State University, the Manhattan Center and the New York Metropolitan Club, Baltimore's Walters Art Museum, the Agha Khan Foundation in Atlanta, the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Miami Iranian Festival, the Seattle TurkFest, Shepherd College and the Asia Society of New York. The ensemble has also appeared at some of the most prestigious venues and festivals in DC, including the Kennedy Center, the Harman Center for the Arts, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the State Department, the National Theatre, the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center, National Geographic Society, the National Press Club, the Library of Congress, Georgetown University, the Textile Museum, Lisner Auditorium, and Dance Place. Their clients include the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Amnesty International, RAWA, the Mosaic Foundation, the Secret Service, the National Defense University, the World Affairs Council, the Foreign Policy Association and the Peace Corps.

Ethnically diverse, the ensemble's dancers have mastered a wide range of styles. Some rare pieces are part of the company's 'Legacy Repertiore' - dances that are seldom now performed in the countries of origin. People's Artists of Uzbekistan Qizlarhon Dusmuhamedova and Qadir Muminov have passed on a precious legacy of Central Asian dances to SRDC. Dusmukhamedova teaches a month-long residency with the ensemble each year. Other collaborators include Egyptian choreographer Momo Kadous, North African dance ethnologist Amel Tafsout, violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain, People's Artist of Azerbaijan Yusif Gasimov, Turkic dance specialist Mujgan Ergil , Chinese dance expert Ling Tang. Most recently, the company is collaborating with Iranian choreographer and artist Leili Tajadod Pritschet.

Recognized for the beauty, authenticity, and imagination of its productions, SRDC has enchanted audiences with productions like Remembering the Legends; 3,000 Years of Women of the Silk Road, The Lion and the Sun: Dances of the Old Persian Empire, Haft Paykar: Seven Beauties, Crossing Cultures: An Evening on the Silk Road, and Gul Bahaar: A Celebration of Uzbek, Indian, and Persian Dance. On November 8, 2008, Silk Road Dance Company premiered Legends of the Silk Road, bringing the myths, fables and history of Central Asia came to life. From fierce Amazons to the heroic Queen Esther, from a Mesopotamian goddess to celestial Buddhist maidens, the ensemble presented an enchanted evening of mystical adventure. As a prelude to the Kennedy Center's 2009 Arabesque Festival, SRDC presented Raqiset Shaabia: Folkloric Dances of the Arab World to a standing-room-only audience. The company’s newest production Hooray for Bollywood, a homage to Indian film dance, premiered on June 20, 2009.

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