Dances of the Silk Road & Beyond
Mirror of the Soul:
Women's Dance of the Islamic World
March 25, 2015
Dr. Laurel Victoria Gray and Silk Road Dance Company gave the inaugural presentation at the GW Arts Initiative Program, the Textile Museum's exciting new lecture series featuring GW faculty and other experts.
Reaching beyond Western stereotypes, women's dances of the Islamic world reflect a diversity of styles and purposes. From celebration to courtship or devotion, dance plays a vital role in community identity as well as self-expression. Award-winning dance scholar, choreographer, costume designer, and performer Dr. Laurel Victoria Gray specializes in dances from Silk Road cultures and beyond. Gray teaches world dance at GW and is the founding artistic director of the Silk Road Dance Company. The lecture included dances by soloists from Silk Road Dance Company and was followed by an followed by informal discussion.
A collaboration with the Arts Initiative Committee of GW.
Join Dr. Laurel Victoria Gray and her Silk Road Dance Company on April 25, 2015, at Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC, for the first National Arab - American Dance Festival. Traditional dance styles and costumes from Egypt, North Africa, and the Gulf will dance will provide a taste of the diversity of Arab culture.
Silk Road Dance Company performs at 2 PM
WASHINGTON, March 11, 2015 UPI
by Danielle Haynes
"The Silk Road Dance Company performed Wednesday in the East Room of the White House in celebration of the more than 3,000-year-old holiday. The official start of the nearly two-week observance is March 21, coinciding with the Spring Equinox. "
Click here to read entire UPI article.
An award-winning choreographer, performer, dance scholar and costume designer, Dr. Laurel Victoria Gray has devoted her life to mastering dances from Silk Road cultures and beyond. She combines her degrees in history with decades of field research into Islamic civilizations, cultures, and traditions. Dr. Gray's scholarly articles have appeared in many publications. She has taught and performed throughout the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, and the East. She has lectured extensively and currently teaches World Dance at George Washington University.
Known as 'the pioneer of Uzbek dance in America', Dr. Gray first became involved in cultural exchange in 1979 and has led several arts delegations to the former USSR. She founded the award-winning Silk Road Dance Company (SRDC) in 1995 with the goal of fostering “cultural understanding through Beauty and Delight.” SRDC performs throughout the United States --and in Samarkand, Doha, Singapore, and Toronto -- sharing traditional Iranian, Turkic and Arabic cultures.
An alchemical artist, Laurel Victoria Gray creates enchanted worlds woven from her knowledge of history, literature, music and dance, breathing life into ancient civilizations with her magical concert length works, like Egypta, Haft Paykar: Seven Beauties, The Golden Road to Samarkand,The Pearl of the Gulf, Bollywood Fever, and more.
Known for her memorable, poetic choreographies based on the movement vocabulary of traditional Persian, Arabic and Central Asian dance forms, Dr. Gray has created her own systems for teaching traditional Arabic and Persian dance, as well as an innovative movement technique known as “Silk Road Synthesis.”
Greatly influenced by her dance studies on five continents, Dr. Gray combines both Eastern and Western methodology in her classes, encouraging students to refine their technique while building confidence and exploring self-expression. As an instructor and lecturer, she conveys information in an organized fashion, spiced with humor and charm.
A wide variety of World Dance workshop offerings reflect Dr. Gray's lifetime of study and travel -- Russian Romani ("Gypsy"), Dance of Turkic Nomads, Classical Persian Dance, Central Asian styles, Azerbaijani, Ancient Egyptian and many other exciting and unique topics.
She believes that since dance predates spoken language as a form of human communication, we all can access it as a universal source of joy and ecstasy.
by Erika Kottenmeir
(Excerpt from Joy of Motion Blog)
Photo from "Bollywood Fever" by John G. Walter
The Bollywood Performance Class at Joy of Motion Dance Center has turned out to be so much more than a dance class. Dr. Gray, a professor at The George Washington University, has not only instructed us in the steps of a dance in the traditional kathak style, but also taught us the intention behind each movement. By explaining the meaning of the lyrics and the cultural context, she helps us convey the right amount of emotion in each step, which I’ve learned is so important in a dance style where your eyes say as much as your body. Subtle movements are far more difficult to execute than large, dramatic steps, but as we practice together to achieve synchrony, it is becoming clear that small movements can have a very large impact. It has been fascinating to learn this new language. I am very excited to be a part of the Bollywood performance, and have thoroughly enjoyed my class with Dr. Gray.
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