By Jam Black
Here at Joy of Motion, we are proud of the culturally diverse programing we bring to the DC Metro Area and we are equally thrilled to offer the Silk Road Dance Company Class at our Bethesda location, September 18 to December 18!
The Silk Road Dance Company, formed in 1995 under the leadership of Dr. Laurel Victoria Gray, performs women’s dances from the Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia, China and the Caucasus. The term “Silk Road” derives from the ancient network of trade routes that were central to cultural interaction through regions of the Asian continent connecting the West and East from China to the Mediterranean Sea.
Recently, I had the pleasure of joining Laurel and her students for class. While I have to admit, I’ve taken several genres of dance in my day, but none of Persian and Silk Road influence similar to this.
Luckily, Laurel and her students were incredibly welcoming. It was evident that this dance has deep cultural significance – which is reflected in their flowing feminine movement to traditional Persian music. Student Azita Shafazand comments, “I love Eastern music/dance and culture and I learn more about Persian culture and the history of the Silk Road through the dance”.
Class began as many classes would, with warm-up at the barre, after which they began to walk-through and build upon a routine they began in the previous class. That’s one of the major benefits of this being a nine-week enrollment class – you really have an opportunity to connect with the technique and develop choreography.
Here is a clip of what I caught:
Instructor, Laurel Gray summed it up best with her response to my question:
“What is a benefit to taking this particular style of dance?”
“The Silk Road Dance Company Class offers the opportunity to learn a variety of Eastern dance styles while exploring the beauty and excitement of other cultures. Students can also add to their movement vocabulary. For example, Persian dance emphasizes graceful arms and hands. Georgian dance improves posture and strengthens legs. Central Asian dance forms improve coordination and develop expressiveness. Most of all, the music and the movements bring joy to the heart!”