February 24, 2024 8:00 pm
Inspired by ancient Spring rituals and traditions of the Silk Road, this concert celebrates Nature’s awakening with exuberant, colorful dances of Turkic and Persianate cultures.
Although somewhat new to many Americans, the holiday of Nowruz – also Navruz and Nevruz – marks one of humanity’s oldest celebrations, long a part of Central Asian and Persian heritage. Festive, joyous, and colorful dances connect to past rituals honoring Nature’s renewing energy, bringing hope for a better future.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
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.
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 a special on Uzbek television.
SRDC has been featured performers at events for the Embassies of Azerbaijan, Egypt, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Montenegro, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Turkey and Russia. They are frequently engaged by numerous cultural organizations in the local Turkish, Iranian, and Arab communities for festivals and celebrations.
In 2003, SRDC won the International Academy of Middle Eastern Dance Award for Best Dance Company. That same year they presented Egypta: Myth, Magic, and Mystery as part of The Kennedy Center’s Prelude Festival and Local Dance Commissioning Project. 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, North Carolina State University, 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, and the Asia Society of New York. The ensemble has appeared at some of the most prestigious venues and festivals in DC, including the White House. Kennedy Center, the Harman Center for the Arts, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the State Department, the National Theater, 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.
Ethnically diverse, the ensemble’s dancers have mastered a wide range of styles. Some rare pieces are part of the company’s Legacy Repertoire, 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 taught month-long residencies with the ensemble each summer.
Recognized for the beauty, authenticity, and imagination of its productions, SRDC has enchanted audiences with productions like SHAHNAMEH:Legends from the Persian Book of Kings; 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; An Evening on the Silk Road; Gul Bahaar: A Celebration of Uzbek, Indian, and Persian Dance; Legends of the Silk Road; Raqaset Shaabia: Folkloric Dance of the Arab World; Hooray for Bollywood; and An Edwardian Evening on the Silk Road.