In Honor of
People's Artist of Uzbekistan
and her 70th Jubilee
We congratulate Kizlarkhon Dusmuhamedova on her 70th Jubilee and wish her Health, Happiness, and Prosperity. Her superlative artistry and generous spirit has shown the world the very best of Uzbek womanhood. Not only has she shared the beauty of her ancient culture but she has also made us all better people with her example of compassion, dedication, and loyalty.
During this visit to Seattle, a doctorial candidate in Russian and Soviet History at the University of Washington, – Laurel Victoria Gray – volunteered to translate for the touring artists from Uzbekistan. (She had been to Uzbekistan as a teenager in 1973. ) That is when she first met the exceptional, superlative Uzbek dance artist, Kizlarkhon Dusmukhamedova, and began a lifelong exploration of Central Asian dance culture.
This historic meeting led to the introduction of authentic Uzbek dance to American dancers.
The details of meeting between Laurel Victoria Gray and Kizlarkhon Dusmukhamedova and their subsequent friendship can be found at http://laurelvictoriagray.com/bio.htm
Laurel became active in the Seattle-Tashkent Sister City Committee and participated in numerous cultural exchanges, including the 1984 delegation to Tashkent led by Seattle mayor Charles Royer.
Thanks to the Seattle-Tashkent Sister City Committee, Kizlarkhon returned to Seattle in 1982 with an official delegation from Tashkent and worked with Laurel and her Seattle dance group.
When cultural organizations in Uzbekistan learned of Laurel's sincere interest in Central Asian dance, as well as her dedicated work in cultural exchange, they extended special invitations to her. Special trips to study Uzbek dance were supported by the Vatan Society for Cultural Ties with Countrymen Living Abroad and Uzbekistan Union of Theatrical Workers.
Laurel was by the Uzbekistan State Academic Bolshoi Theatre of Opera and Ballet named for Alisher Navoi to continue her dance studies; she lived there for two years in 1992 and 1993.
Over the years, Laurel continued to work on Soviet - American cultural exchange, inviting Kizlarkhon and other Uzbek artists to the US in 1989 and 1990.
This non-currency cultural exchange blossomed into the historic Seattle Soviet Theatre Arts Exchange, in which 30 theatre artists traveled to Uzbekistan and had home stays in Tashkent while presenting several concerts throughout the city, including performances at the llkhom Theatre. One of the members of the delegation was Dr. Selma Jeanne Cohen, editor of the Oxford University Press International Encyclopedia of Dance.
This cultural exchange was the topic of Laurel’s 2009 Fulbright Association Selma Jeanne Cohen Lecture. Photos of this historic exchange – including pictures of Kizlarkhon – can be viewed at this link:
Kizlarkhon has received many honors and awards for her artistic achievements form the government of Uzbekistan, including President Islam Karimov. Kizlarkhon's exquisite dances, have shown the world the modesty, dignity, and elegance of Uzbek women - both on and off the stage. She is truly a national treasure.
Yes, American women performing Uzbek dances! This is genuine cultural exchange.
Silk Road Dance Company is located in the Washington DC area. We have cultivated a genuine and successful cultural exchange with Uzbekistan as well as other Central Asian and Middle Eastern cultures.Road Dance Company has been instrumental in sharing Uzbek culture with Americans for many years, with performances throughout the Washington DC area, as well as 16 different states, and in London, Toronto, Doha, Singapore, Samarkand, and Tashkent. Silk Road Dance Company also presented programs at the White House and State Department and for 10 different embassies.
Over the years, Silk Road Dance Company has been frequently called upon to perform at the Embassy of Uzbekistan in DC by many different ambassadors. Laurel herself performed for President Karimov when he came to the dedication of the Uzbek Embassy in DC. ( She had also performed in the first two Independence Day celebrations in Tashkent and was the English style editor of Karimov’s first book.)
In 2010, Ambassador Ilkhom Nematov and his wife attended Silk Road Dance Company’s 15th anniversary concert. On the 20th anniversary celebration of Uzbek independence in DC.
A glimpse of this performance can be seen on the VOA Uzbek Service broadcast. Excerpts begin about 2:00 minutes into the program.
Kizlarkhon has taught us all that the role of the Artist is to present a positive example to society, to inspire people with Beauty and Grace.
We love you Kizlarkhon! You have influenced us more than you could ever know!
From Laurel Victoria Gray
Silk Road Dance Company
Uzbek Dance and Culture Society
Central Asian Dance Camp
and all of your students all over the world.
Silk Road Dance Company is a 501(c)(3) non-profit tax-exempt arts organization. We are dedicated artists who deeply love and appreciate Uzbek traditional culture. We endeavor to honor this legacy in all of our performances.