Founded in 1995 by Artistic Director Dr. Laurel Victoria Gray, the award-winning Silk Road Dance Company (SRDC) presents traditional and contemporary women’s dances from Central Asia, the Middle East, South Asia, China and the Caucasus. Their pioneering performances offer a unique glimpse of the life and art of little known cultures, especially the Islamic world. Silk Road Dance Company has performed internationally in Uzbekistan, Qatar and Canada; nationally they have performed throughout the US. The ensemble has danced at some of the most prestigious venues in the Washington DC area, including the Kennedy Center and the Library of Congress. Silk Road Dance Company has performed for Empress Farah Pahlavi and HM Queen Rania of Jordan; SRDC has also been featured at events for the Embassies of Azerbaijan, Egypt, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tunisia, Montenegro, Pakistan, Georgia, Turkey, Ukraine, and Russia. They are often engaged by cultural organizations in the Iranian, Afghan, Turkish, Arab and Central Asian communities.
With an impressive repertoire of more than 200 dances, Silk Road Dance Company offers programs with a depth and breadth reflecting decades of field research and study by Dr. Gray who has received many awards for her life-time of creative work. Company dancers have also studied and traveled extensively throughout the East, mastering many dance styles.
Silk Road Dance Company enchants audiences with beautiful and inspiring productions. Dressed in breath-taking costumes, the ensemble performs Afghani, Algerian, Arabic, Azerbaijani, Baluchi, Bollywood, Classical Persian, Crimean Tatar, Chinese, Egyptian, Georgian, Indian, Iranian, Iraqi, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Kurdish, Moroccan, Qashqai, Qajar, Russian Romani (“Gypsy”), Tajik, Turkmen, Uzbek, and Uyghur dances.
Imaginative Silk Road Dance Company concert works like SHAHNAMEH: Adventures from the Persian Book of Kings; Egypta: Myth, Magic, and Mystery; Legends of the Silk Road, and The Golden Road to Samarkand draw from the history and fables of ancient civilizations of the East. Other programs are based on works from Eastern literature, such as Nizami Ganjavi’s 12th century epic poem Haft Paykar: Seven Beauties as well as the Baburnamah, a remarkable memoir by the Uzbek conqueror who founded the Moghul dynasty. The Central Asian expeditions and historical writings of Swedish explorer Sven Hedin provided inspiration for two productions: An Edwardian Evening on the Silk Road and Swede on the Silk Road. Hooray for Bollywood celebrates the choreography of Indian films and Raqiset Shaabia presents a variety of folkloric dances of the Arab World.
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. 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 and Iranian choreographer Leili Tajadod, and Almagul Temirtekova.
List of performers:
Dr. Laurel Victoria Gray
Valeriya Aviva Nakshun
Courtney Elizabeth Smothers
Yasaman Z. Ardeshirpour
Shireen Elizabeth Karimi
Ekaterina Valentinovna Negrouk
Karen Kate Ocampo David
Laura Noel Carey
Nilufar Abdusattarovna Rakhmanoa
Silk Road Dance Company is a World Arts Focus Resident Arts Partner.