by Janet Jubran, M.A.
With an overflow crowd
in attendance, "Remembering the Legends" opened with haunting,
evocative music and mysterious fog that hearkened back to the dawn of
The Shamaness emerged from the mist hidden behind an intriguing mask. Her mysterious demeanour captivated the audience."Amazonka" featured warrior women dressed in
leather and pelts, armed with swords and shields. Their movements were sinuous yet threatening. The sparring was particularly dramatic and their actions dominated the stage.
danced by Autumn Leah Ward -- symbolizing her inability to escape her fate. One by one, the girls draped her with their rainbow veils, in an interesting reversal of the "dance of the seven veils."
Roxanne: Beloved of Alexander With great energy, the playful and flirting, Reagan Hardy represented the beautiful Roxanne who enchanted Alexander the Great. Traditional music and movements from the region was once known as Soghdiana. The dancer’s traveling backbend across the stage was spellbinding.
The next piece was Samaya, a Georgian dance to honor the Moon Goddess, Nana. In costumes that shimmered like moonlight, the dancers glided across the stage with tiny graceful steps in a fluid motion. The trio formed crescent moons with their arms, effectively symbolizes the ancient triad of Mother, Maiden, and Crone.
For Queen Mandukhai, the audience was next taken to the steppes, with music featuring throat singing and even some wolf cries. Keylan Qazzaz made a remarkably authentic Mongolian warrior queen defending her country from invaders.
Traveling forward in time, the next dance was set in the court of Tamerlane. With graceful hand gestures and traditional Uzbek movements, the dances looked elegant in replicas of historic Samarkand costumes, down to the real pheasant feathers on the hats.
Very moving, the women in full Muslim garments entered silently for "Cry of the Heart". The accompanying hush that fell over the audienced testified to the effectiveness of this dance in light of current events.
The "Dancer of Shamakha" is one of Laurel Victoria Gray’s best known solo pieces. She created her gorgeous costume following traditional designs. Moving fluidly, she whirled around the stage with imperceptible steps. Her seductive movements and impressive backbends and spins revealed the lovely combination of the textures in her costume.
Trailing a turquoise veil like a piece of the sky, Autumn Leah Ward emerged from the clouds to begin Raqs-i-Peri, the Dance of the Persian Fairies. The veil soon became a canopy which harmonized with the colors of her costume. She was joined by two, then four more dancers, moving to ethereal music and intricate choreography. The delicately flowing veils and sleeves enhanced the perfectly timed arm movements in this charming and playful finale.
If ever we needed a bridge of understanding between East and West, this concert beautifully met that challenge. "Remembering the Legends" deserves recognition for presenting the ethnic diversity of the East, its wide variety of cultures, and its ancient heritage. Through compelling music, breath-taking costuming, and memorable choreography, Laurel Victoria Gray and her Silk Road Dance Company have opened a door to an world that has long remained mysterious to the West. Her careful research and effort to preserve authenticity have ensured that audiences will gain a true understanding of this region's culture.
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the voices of the Foremothers. Hear!