World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


Tara Catherine Pandeya and Abbos Kosimov Ensemble

DANCE ORIGINS: Uzbekistan & Uyghur Autonomous Xinjiang, China
GENRES: Uzbek, Uyghur
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR: Tara Catherine Pandeya
First Appearance in SF EDF: 2007

For eighteen years, Tara Catherine Pandeya, an acclaimed second-generation performing artist and choreographer, has worked to preserve and promote Central Asian culture through research, performance, and residencies in East Turkestan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. In 2015, she completed a five-year world tour as a principle dancer with Cirque du Soleil. Tara has received grants from the California Arts Council, the Alliance for Traditional Arts, Chime Choreography Fellowship, and Marin Arts Council. Her Central Asian dance mentors are Farohat Saidova and Zaragol Iskandarova.

Abbos Kosimov
is recognized globally as doira master and Uzbek cultural ambassador, and also as “The People’s Artist” in his home county of Uzbekistan. He was born in Tashkent to musicians, trained from age ten with Uzbek national artist Ustad Tuychi Inagomov, and has collaborated with Stevie Wonder, Zakir Hussein, Kronos Quartet, Simon Shaheen, Omar Sosa, Homayun Sakhi, and Hassan Hakmoun, among others.


DANCE ORIGIN: Uzbekistan
Bukharan Larzon
Sehirli Doira
Tara Catherine Pandeya and Farohat Saidova
Tara Catherine Pandeya
Abbos Kosimov (doira), Akhror Rakhmatov (doira)


This beautiful piece from Uzbekistan, Sehirli Doira—Enchanted Doira—was created as a world premiere for our Festival by choreographers Tara Pandeya and Farohat Saidova. It’s a light-hearted take on The Red Shoes ballet, where a pair of shoes takes command of a dancer.

This time, it’s the doira—the Central Asian frame drum—that’s enchanted, and its rhythm pulls drummer and dancer on an unpredictable journey. In Bukharan classical dance (from the region of Bukhara) this dance form is called larzon, meaning “unsteady rhythm.” The duo must surrender to the enchanted drum’s desire, following shifting rhythms from the slow and measured to a wild, complex abandon. They do so with a lively sense of humor and soon it is the audience that is enchanted—as graceful gestures and drummed heartbeats transport us magically to distant Uzbekistan, to the Bukharan courts of emirs of Tamerlane, to the ancient Silk Road.

Uzbekistan’s three classical dance styles, Ferghana, Bukhara, and Khorezm, employ abstract movement to expresses emotional aspects of life’s journey, the beauty of nature, and the grandeur of the elements. The highly rhythmic Bukharan style is known distinctly for its forceful footwork, sharp gestures, and boldly embellished dress.

The style is also known for its great physical demands, seen here in Tara’s expert knee slides, plunging backbends, turn sequences, and spinning drops to the floor.

Renowned percussionist Abbos Kosimov also demonstrates the height of Uzbek cultural tradition. His doira drum is the expressive, round, white, brass-ringed drum—said to represent the moon or sun, traditionally played by women for celebrations, rituals, and rites of passage. Tara’s wrist and ankle bells are also audible, and her subtle body movements contribute to the precise, joyful percussion.


Title: Uzum ussul
Soloist: Tara Catherine Pandeya
Musician: Abbos Kosimov

Uzum ussul celebrates "The Dance of the Grapes" from the city of Turpan, Uyghur Autonomous Xinjiang, China. In a choreography merging Uzbek and Uyghur styles, a young woman playfully tries to find the sweetest grapes in the valley. She will be happy with her efforts: Turpan, well-below sea level, is known as "the Land of Fi re," and as one of the hottest places in the world, it boasts the world's sweetest grapes.  

The performance features the doira, the traditional frame drum of Central Asia, which is an inseparable element to dance. Drummer and dancer engage in conversation: with the dancer responding to rhythms through her subtle movements.

The Uyghurs are an ethnic group from Central Asia, said to be the original ancestors of the Turkish people; they are the indigenous inhabitants of the region now referred to as Xinjiang. Tara Catherine Pandeya and Ostad Abbos Kosimov, collaborating since 2006, choreographed Uzum ussul in 2009. Tara learned this piece while in residency at the Xinjiang Arts Institute in Urumqi in Uyghur Autonomous Xinjiang—an area that now borders Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Tajikistan, Mongolia, Tibet, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Kyrgyzstan. Uyghur dance and music traditions date back 2,000 years and they are unique, due to the Uyghurs central location on the Silk Road. Fifth century Chinese poets wrote of Silk Road dancers and musicians; and Marco Polo wrote about Uyghur culture and cuisine.


TITLE: Shodiana
CHOREOGRAPHER: Sharofat Rashidova
SOLOIST: Tara Catherine Pandaya
MUSICIAN: Abbos Kosimov

Soloist Tara Pandeya, performs Shodiana, a signature women’s solo dance from Tajikistan. This distinct style demonstrates rippling, fluid movements of the upper body, juxtaposed with staccato spins and crisp stops. The traditional choreography was set for the stage by Sharofat Rashidova, Artistic Director of Padida Dance Theatre in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. It is a standard dance in their repertoire, and was taught to Tara Pandeya by Mariam Gaibova, while Tara was completing her dance residency at the Padida Theatre in Dushambe, Tajikistan.

The dancer’s costume is of brilliant shades of turquoise and yellow, representing light and water. Her tiara, or tilyakosh, translates as “golden eyebrows,” is so named because of the delicate hanging pendants, which follow the curved line of her brow.

The dancer’s movements closely match the dynamic syncopations and accents of the accompanying doira drum, a large hand-held frame drum with brass rings inside which is the Uzbek national percussion instrument. Highly regarded musician Abbos Kosimov, will be playing the doira during this piece. He founded the Abbos Group of National Instruments, which is an extremely popular ensemble in Uzbekistan, and has received the title of Honored Artist of Uzbekistan from president Islam Karimov. In addition, Kosimov has collaborated outside of Uzbekistan with percussion artists Hands On'Semble, Adam Rudolph, Giovanni Hidalgo, Zakir Hussain, and recently recorded with Stevie Wonder.

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