Premiere February 19, 2015
The Arts Club of Washington DC
On February 19th, theatre goers had 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 featured a "guest appearance" by the famous Swedish explorer Sven Hedin who shared 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, Samarkand, and Bukhara.
Known as the “last 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. A student of TGerman geographer Ferdinand von Richthofen, who coined the term "Silk Road," 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.
Baltimore-based actor Sean Coe portrayed 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 enhanced the ethnographic aspect of Hedin’s explorations with beautifully costumed dances.
WORK IN PROGRESS
Final Scene Premiere March 9, 2013
Inspired by Silk Road Dance Company's performance trip to Qatar, The Pearl of the Gulf is a magical dance journey into the World of the Arabian Nights. The final scene "In the Underwater Kingdom," was commissioned by DANCE METRO DC, and choreographed by Laurel Victoria Gray, performed by Silk Road Dance Company and Guest Artists.
Based on Nizami's 12th centruy epic poem, Haft Paykar celebrates ethnic diversity, extols the beauty of other cultures, and praises the wisdom of women. In the tale, the young warrior Bahram Gur enters a mysterious, locked room to discover the portraits of seven beautiful princesses, each from a different land. After he wins a kingdom and achieves great wealth and power, he marries each the maidens who in turn impart a moral lesson that will help him become a righteous ruler.
Legends of the Silk Road
NOVEMBER 8, 2008
Legends of the Silk Road brings the myths
myths, legends and history of Central
Asia to life. From fierce Amazons
to the heroic Queen Esther, from a Mesopotamian goddess to celestial Buddhist maidens, the Silk Road Dance Company presents an enchanted evening of mystical adventure. Highlighted by breathtaking costumes and compelling music, Legends includes rare dances of Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and the Caucasus Mountains.
Hooray for Bollywood
Intersections Festival 2013
Hooray for Bollywood brings all the color and glitter of the Indian film industry to the stage. The concert length performance, presented by Silk Road Dance Company and guest artists, pays homage to the vibrant dance sequences so popular in Indian movies like the recent Academy Award winning film Slumdog Millionnaire.. Highlights include a Rajastani folk dance, a visit to a magical temple, a romantic boat ride, a candlelight ritual and -- of course --a wedding party.
The Golden Road to Samarkand
NOVEMBER 4, 2006
Washington, D.C. His Excellency Abdulaziz Kamilov, Uzbek ambassador to the United States, gave the welcoming remarks at this special dance concert celebrating 2,700 years of the city of Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
Presented by Publick Playhouse and performed by the award-winning Silk Road Dance Company, 'The Golden Road to Samarkand,' premiered on November 4, 2006. The new work --directed by Laurel Victoria Gray -- celebrated the varied cultures along the ancient caravan routes while also examining the delicate balance between art and power.
More than thirty dancers performed pieces from Uzbek, Persian, Tajik, Azeri, Afghan, Uighur, Turkmen, Indian, and Chinese cultures, portraying the cosmopolitan legacy of Samarkand. Lavish, detailed costumes – many designed by Gray and constructed by members of SRDC – offered a visual reminder of the diversity of peoples who contributed to the development of Samarkand. Russian born artist Evgenia Luzhina- Salazar is the set designer.
“This is more than an ethnographic travelogue,” explained Gray who carefully selected traditional pieces as well as creating new choreographies for the concert. “These dances depict the range of human emotion, from love and longing to sorrow and despair.' Gray sees the caravan as a metaphor for the human journey; Samarkand embodies the desire for fame, power, wealth – and beauty, too.
The Golden Road to Samarkand draws inspiration from the Silk Road Dance Company’s trip to the ancient Uzbek city in August of 2005 to perform at the UNESCO sponsored Sharq Taronalari (Melodies of the East) International Festival. The Washington D.C. based company became the first American dance ensemble to earn this invitation. During the Samarkand festival, SRDC became acquainted with leading artists from over 50 countries, marking the revitalization of Samarkand’s role as a major cultural center for the Islamic world. The ensemble gave four performances and became the subject of an Uzbek television special.
Sweet to ride forth at evening from the wells,
When shadows pass gigantic on the sand,
And softly through the silence beat the bells
Along the Golden Road to Samarkand.
We travel not for trafficking alone;
By hotter winds our fiery hearts are fanned:
For lust of knowing what should not be known
We take the Golden Road to Samarkand.
Excerpt from poem "The Golden Road to Samarkand"
James Elroy Flecker