Silk Road Dance Company, cultural understanding through Beauty and Delight
The occasion was Around the World Embassy Tour-Passport DC – an annual event that introduces diversity of world cultures to Washingtonians at the start of each summer.
Almost customarily, Pakistani artefacts, cuisine, costumes, folk music, artefacts and paintings remained among major attractions, with endless lines of visitors coursing through the Pakistani embassy throughout the day.
Despite intermittent rains, visitors continued to enjoy the beats of traditional Pakistani music reverberating in the International Court diplomatic area, which also houses embassies from several Middle Eastern countries.
A special feature was participation of a group of American performers, who took part in the cultural performances arranged by the Embassy including regional and folk dances.
An Evening in Uzbekistan featured on Aslan Media
December 15, 2010
Embassy of Uzbekistan - Washington, D.C.
Aslan Media reporter Sheridan Gunderson created this slide show of Silk Road Dance Company's performance at the Embassy of Uzbekistan, enhanced by images from the embassy's collection of Central Asian folk art.
Silk Road Dance Company's performance at the National Theatre in Washington DC
What do you get when you combine a whimsical night of dance with vivid customs made of delicate silks? That would be a night of dance performances by the Silk Road Dance Company.....
The performances were unique in their dance style and music accompaniments. I was enthralled with the beautiful gowns and dresses that the dancers wore (which were designed by Dr. Gray), as well as their fluid movements. Dr. Gray has ensured authenticity in the performances and dress attire. In fact, the dance company has performed in various venues like universities and embassies. If you would like to have a worldly experience make sure you check out their events on www.silkroaddance.com. Read More
Artful Afternoon brought India to Greenbelt on Sunday, Aug. 7. This month’s theme was "Hooray for Bollywood," featuring a host of activities for all ages that took Greenbelters for a ride through Indian culture.
In a literal hands-on activity, kids and adults designed and drew their own mehndi-style henna body tattoos. “We wanted to do a project where everyone could be involved,” said Barbara Dickey Davis, arts assistant at the Greenbelt Community Center. Read More
Among these wonderful festival dance program offerings was an American group called the ''Silk Road Dance Company,'' which could rival Uzbek and Tajik dancers, and presented dances from four different regions of Central Asia, which were well executed ..... Laurel Victoria Gray, the Director of Silk Road Dance Company, also said that the group is currently in rehearsals to present a dance program based on Nizami’s Haft Paykar. Read More
from The World and I
July 1, 2002 by Stephen Henkin
Copyright 2002 News World Communications, Inc.
Long ago and far away, the women along the Silk Road, from China to the Mediterranean, created colorful, evocative dance forms. Thanks to an inspired troupe in Washington, D.C., we can experience them today.
They dance in sumptuous costumes and fantastic headdresses to the effervescent sounds of bells, cymbals, and drums. Some wear the mysterious burka, with tiny eye slits that leave everything to the imagination.\ These are the talented and culturally astute dancers of the Silk Road Dance Company, who proudly embody the resilient and colorful dance heritage of Central Asia and the Middle East.
This unique, all-female company was founded in Washington, D.C., by Laurel Victoria Gray, a dancer, choreographer, instructor, scholar, and dance ethnologist. "A dance ethnologist attempts to understand dance in a cultural context, examining its social significance for a particular part of the world," she explains. Her field of study--with its possibilities for presenting rare forms of dance--is a vast one. The ancient Silk Road, a network of caravan routes connecting the Mediterranean world with China, ran through Central Asia, the Caucasus mountains, the Levant, and North Africa. It was most active as an East-West linkup from the second century BC to the sixteenth century.
"On it," says Gray, "they traded silk, gems, and slaves. The slaves were Persian, African, Chinese--anyone could be made a slave. The men would be killed off and the women and children taken into slavery" by a conquering army. Perhaps, she speculates, that is why these ancient women's dances have so endured. In cultures in which women were so inexorably fixed in a subservient role, dance may have been the main, and often the only, medium in which they could express themselves.
A vast array of cultures were linked by the ancient trade routes. "People along the Silk Road were not exclusively Muslim," notes Gray. "There were also Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, and shamanists." These religious traditions, and the cultures that rose around them, greatly affected the dances from these regions.
The interaction between cultures, as well as disciplines of endeavor, are hallmarks of the life of company artistic director Gray. Born in Spokane, Washington, she showed interest in dance and music early on, beginning ballet and tap lessons at age six and violin at eight. In high school and college,....
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DC Choreographer Receives Iranian Arts Award
(TORONTO, Ontario) - Laurel Victoria Gray, Artistic Director of Washington DC’s Silk Road Dance Company, received the prestigious Arash Award at the closing gala of Toronto’s Tirgan Festival, the world’s largest Iranian cultural celebration, held July 21-24, 2011. The honor is bestowed on leading artists and literary figures in Iranian culture. Gray is the first American of non-Iranian descent to receive this award. Read More
Excellence Showcased at the 24th Annual Mayor's Arts Awards
The 24th Annual Mayor’s Arts Awards held in the concert hall at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts began with a performance of “The Drum Unites Us” composed and arranged by Ulysses Owens, Jr. and choreographed by C. Brian Williams and Jakari Sherman. This dance and musical arrangement gave the audience a glimpse of just how international the arts scene is here in Washington, DC: the Washington Korean Dance Company, the O’Neill-James Irish Steppers, the Silk Road Dance Company, Step Afrika, Urban Artistry, and Beat Ya Feet Kings all dancing to the beat of the African drumming by KanKouran West African Dance Company and the Caribbean sound of the Positive Vibrations Youth Steel Band. Culminating the program was a rap song, “Welcome to DC,” by DC’s own Mambo Sauce as young people from City of Peace DC held up signs from every DC neighborhood, made by the Barry Farms Youth Arts Council. Read More
Fancy Feat: The Metro DC Dance Awards
by Lisa Traiger
"The opening quartet of companies, neatly tied together by Helanius Wilkins's direction, featured 11 brilliantly costumed dancers of the Silk Road Dance Company in ''Raqs-i-Peri,'' a traditional Persian dance about fairylike creatures whose undulating arms, torsos and hips enchant mortals." Read More
On June 20th the Silk Road Dance Company (SRDC) will present my new full-length, Bollywood-themed dance concert at Harmony Hall. The term ”Bollywood” refers to India’s enormous Hindi-language film industry that is located in Bombay (now known as ”Mumbai.”) Although Bollywood choreographies originally drew from Indian classical and folk dance, other genres like jazz, hip hop, and even belly dance have recently entered the mix. Bollywood movies have an innocent optimism, an infectious charm, and an unabashed sense of melodrama that paints the world in bright colors — just like the old Hollywood musicals of the Depression years. Read More