Performing Arts: A Modern Silk Road

by Editorial

Upcoming dance festival celebrates the traditions of ancient trade route.
By Kinne Chapin

Silk Road Dance Company. (Photo by John G. Walter)

Hundreds of years ago, the Silk Road trade route transmitted both goods and culture from China to the Mediterranean. Now that we’re in the 21st century, the Silk Road Dance Festival hopes to revive the route’s tradition of cultural exchange. Drawing upon the history of the ancient Silk Road, the day-long festival, presented by the Asia Heritage Foundation, Uzbek Dance and Culture Society, and World Arts Focus, hopes to educate the metro area about the beauty of eastern dance and culture.

The festival, which will take place in Mount Rainier, Maryland, hopes to illuminate the diverse mix of Asian cultural traditions. During the day, guests can stop by the “chaikhona,” a traditional Uzbek teahouse, to sample the national dish, or take classes in Uzbek dance. The festival will also feature a Silk Road bazaar – perfect for envisioning yourself skirting the Gobi desert on your way to Europe. The festival will culminate in a performance of traditional dances from the Silk Road Dance Company, China’s The Xuejuan Performance Ensemble, and the Indian Kathak Dance of the Jayantika Dance Company.

Reflecting on the festival, Dr. Laurel Victoria Gray, the event’s organizer and specialist in the traditions and culture of Uzbekistan, focuses on the power of the visual.  “The Uzbeks have a great folk saying that it is better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times, “ she explained. “Experiencing these dances in a cohesive concert – all performed in colorful, authentic costumes – will help audiences appreciate the vast range of styles and ethnicities of Asia.”

If you want to experience the diverse cultural traditions of Asia without buying a plane ticket, look no further. For more information and tickets to the Silk Road Dance Festival, click here.

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