Spotlight Series: Silk Road

Spotlight_Series_silk_road2On Sunday, the Silk Road festival returns to Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles in MacArthur Park for the fifth consecutive year to showcase the vast cultural riches of three diaspora communities. Did you know that Los Angeles—one of the world’s great crossroads—is home to people from over 180 countries, speaking 140 different languages? This wealth of ethnic diversity translates directly to the city’s cultural offerings, including food, art, theater, dance and music.

The upcoming Silk Road festival (not to be confused with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble) will feature the Los Angeles-based Jung Im Lee Korean Dance Academy, Anatolia Turkish Folk Dance Group and Nupur Academy for Indian Classical Performing Arts. Get ready for a lively night with this behind-the-scenes look at a few dances from these groups’ respective homelands!

Buchaechum (Korean fan dance)

One of the most popular dances of the Korean peninsula, Buchaechum’s roots go all the way back to the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897). Best known as a dance for groups of women, the graceful choreography of this ritual folk dance evokes natural wonders like blooming flowers, swaying trees and rolling ocean waves. The dancers don hanbok (a traditional long-sleeved Korean dress), jokduri (a traditional marriage head piece) and large fans decorated with brightly colored flowers. Clustering together and holding their fans up high, the dancers create stunning, kaleidoscopic patterns.

Members of the Jung Im Lee Korean Dance Academy—one of the largest Korean dance studios in Southern California—have performed Buchaechum at the 2013 San Gabriel Valley Festival, The Americana at Brand 2014 Lunar New Year Festival in Glendale, Calif. and at multiple events hosted by the Korean Cultural Center Los Angeles. 

Turkish folk dances

Turkey—which borders three seas and connects Europe to Asia—boasts a myriad of folk dances that reflect the cultures and traditions of the country’s different regions. Often involving lines or circles of dancers who link their arms, kick their legs, wave handkerchiefs or click together wooden spoons, Turkish folk dances are also distinctive for their complex rhythms and colorful costumes. Traditional musical instruments such as the davul (large drum), zurna (pipe), kaval (shepherd’s pipe), sipsi (reed) and cigirtma (fife) accompany the dances, which typically evoke natural phenomena, rites of passage, people’s occupations or everyday tasks.

Master performer, Vedat Gursoylu, leads the Anatolia Turkish Folk Dance Group—a diverse ensemble dedicated to learning and sharing Turkish music and dance with the greater Los Angeles community. Gursoylu, who holds a degree in music and folk arts from Istanbul Technical University, offers instruction in Turkish folk dance, gypsy dance, musical instruments and more. In 2013, the Anatolia Turkish Folk Dance Group was awarded a certificate from the City of Los Angeles for its service to the community.

Kathak (Indian classical dance)

Kathak is a popular form of classical dance in Northern India with roots in an ancient tradition of nomadic bards known as Katthaka. These storytellers pantomimed epic allegories from Hindu scriptures in public squares and temple courtyards. As the dance form became fashionable in royal courts, the emphasis turned to entertainment. Featuring intricate footwork and rapid spins, Kathak is the only Indian classical dance that reveals traces of the Mughal or Mongol Empire, a Muslim dynasty that governed India from 1526 to 1707.

The Nupur Academy for Indian Classical Performing Arts specializes in Kathak dance and music. Students of the renowned Guru Prachi Dixit and esteemed visiting artists perform regularly across the United States at festivals, fundraisers and temples. They have also toured India multiple times, participating in workshops and giving performances in Agra, New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and more.

There are many more dances to experience at this year’s Silk Road festival! Enjoy a night of cultural exploration under the stars at Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles in MacArthur Park on Sunday, July 31 at 7:00pm.


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