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09/09/10

Encounters: New Moon on the Silk Road


Acclaimed world dance ensemble Ballet Afsaneh unites leading Bay Area artists in an evening of exhilarating and innovative new dance works. A stellar cast of musicians and dancers explore cultural confluence and exchange inspired by the historic Silk Road.

Saturday, November 20, 8:00pm
Sunday, November 21, 3:00pm
Cowell Theater at Fort Mason Center, San Francisco CA 94109  Directions/Parking/Transportation
Tickets: $22 adult $18 senior/student, @ door- $25 adult $21 senior/student

Afsaneh Art & Culture Society is thrilled to present Encounters: New Moon on the Silk Road, a visual feast of emotionally stirring contemporary performance drawn from a rich tradition of cross-cultural exchange.  Ballet Afsaneh is a critically acclaimed performance ensemble presenting the dance, music and poetry of the historic Silk Road networks of Eurasia. In an unprecedented collaboration of 20 highly regarded Bay Area dancers and musicians from the Central and South Asian diaspora, Encounters: New Moon on the Silk Roadshares the fruits of a year-long artistic dialogue. Just as the Silk Road historically sparked innovation among many cultures from Europe to Asia and all points between, this radiant multidisciplinary performance is a vibrant co-mingling of art and ideas.

Through a deeply experimental and communicative approach, 12 musicians and 9 dance artists at the top of their respective crafts, meet each other with curiosity and playfulness in wholly new work that is vibrant, seamless and refined. The evening will feature an interlacing of elements from the dance and music heritages of Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, India, Indonesia, the Balkans, Israel, Morocco, and Hungary. In a work created by Antonia Minnecola, the percussive footwork, expressive gestures and precise spins of kathak are intermingled with a voluminous modern score by Moses Sedler. In another section of the program dancers shrouded or revealed through wind blown silk create a twisted desert landscape, inspired by a score incorporating Persian contemporary poetry through spoken word and song.

Artists 
Behind the project are several visionary Bay Area artists that have distinguished themselves through years of dedication to their art forms. Antonia Minnecola is one of few American artists recognized as a serious exponent of kathak dance, the rhythmic and expressive style of North India. She is the disciple of Sitara Devi, widely considered the greatest female Kathak dancer of our time. In her original choreography, she employs the kathak style to present contemporary dance works, often collaborating with dancers and musicians from different traditions.

Sharlyn Sawyer, director of Ballet Afsaneh is a prolific artist, expanding traditional Central Asian art forms for contemporary theatrical presentation and choreographing dozens of new works. In addition to her vast base of traditional movement vocabulary, her experience in modern choreographic and production techniques create a transcendent synthesis of human expression. Her work ranges from classical, culturally specific repertoire to cutting edge, incisive contemporary work.

Moses Sedler is well-known in the Bay Area as a composer of music for concert stage, modern dance, and film. A concert cellist, recording artist, and teacher, his background is rooted in classical music, the improvisatory music of many cultures, with influences of Indian classical music, and eastern European folk music.

The stellar, multi-ethnic cast of artists who contribute their talents and expertise to the project are: Neema Hekmat, Persian santur; Pourya Khademi, Persian violin; Salar Nader, Afghan tabla; Pedram Heydari, Persian kamanche; Kaveh Hedayati, Persian setar; Sonja Drakulich, Hungarian vocals, (lead singer of Stellamara); Bon Singer, Balkan/Judaic vocals, (director of Ya Elah); Jeannette Ferber, vocals; Paul Ohanesian, Armenian oud. The phenomenal cast of dance artists and choreographers include: Antonia Minnecola, Wan-Chao Chang, Mariam Gaibova, Tara Pandeya, Ghopi Batra, Hannah Romanowsky, Kristen Sague, Emelie Karen Coleman, Miriam Peretz, and Sharlyn Sawyer. Behind the scenes, two-time Izzy Award-winning lighting designer Patty-Ann Farrell unveils the evening's performance with her signature, evocative and lustrous lighting environments.


Encounters: New Moon on the Silk Road is part of the In Performance Series at the Fort Mason Center, which is supported by San Francisco Grants for the Arts/Hotel Tax Fund, and the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation. This premiere performance was also made possible by grants from the Creative Work Fund of the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, and support from The Christensen Fund.

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