World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


Miriam Peretz

DANCE ORIGIN: Uzbekistan/Tajikistan
Central Asian
First Appearance in SF EDF: 2005

For centuries, Central Asia has acted as a crossroads for the transit of people, goods, and ideas between Europe, the Middle East, South Asia and East Asia. The nomads of the expansive Eurasian steppes had domesticated horses, which vastly increased their mobility and allowed for trade and cultural exchanges between widely separated populations. These journeys and cultural exchanges certainly affected the music, dance, dress and aesthetics of the people passing over this vast territory.

Miriam Peretz is an internationally acclaimed dancer and teacher. She has been a principle dancer with Inbal Ethnic Dance Theater in Israel and has performed similar versions of Shodiona at festivals and theaters in Israel accompanied by members of the Tajikistan Aliov family. She is a principle dancer and the Assistant Artistic Director of Ballet Afsaneh—the professional performance ensemble of the California nonprofit Afsaneh Art & Culture Society which promotes the cultural legacy of the Central Asian Community. Miriam dances to bridge gaps and to create respect, love, and unity among people of different backgrounds and spiritual traditions.


TITLE: Qalb Usulare (Rhythm of the Heart)
CHOREOGRAPHERS: Miriam Peretz and Sharofat Rashidova
SOLOIST: Miriam Peretz
Salokhiddin Fakhriev (doira), Abbos Kosimov (doira)

Tajikistan and Uzbekistan lie high in the expansive steppes of Central Asia—bordered by Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China—and they share culture and history with the Persian and Uzbek people. The Tajik domesticated horses long ago. Their mobility allowed for journeys and cultural exchanges over vast territories, and they developed a rich heritage of music, dance, dress, and aesthetics. Citizens of modern Tajikistan and Uzbekistan maintain a deep connection to dance in all its secular and spiritual forms, so dancers are frequently invited to perform at community celebrations and on the stage.

In Qalb Usulare (Rhythm of the Heart), Miriam Peretz dances the traditional solo dance shodiona (the dance of happiness). This dance is a famous signature piece throughout Central Asia, and most young professional female dancers have a unique version in their repertory. The dancer pantomimes the happy actions of a young woman who embroiders a suzane, a decorated fabric for her betrothed on her wedding day. She spins in place, bringing the audience into her joyful spiritual state. The doira, also known as daf in Central Asia, is an ancient circle drum once used to call on divine spirits during shamanic rituals.

Miriam originally learned this solo piece in 2005, in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, from Sharofat Rashidova. She choreographed this version—performed for the first time today— in collaboration with musician Salokhiddin Fakhriev, incorporating choreographies and dance vocabulary learned from Uzbek and Tajik dance masters in Central Asia. The rhythm of the doira hand drum is an integral element in Uzbek and Tajik dance, as the dancer and percussionist play off one another in a flirtatious exchange of rhythms.

Miriam dances today with two exceptional drummers. Salokhiddin Fakhriev was born into a family of musicians in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. He studied at Mukhtor Ashrafi Conservatory of Tashkent, and performed in the Soviet Union. In 2002, he immigrated to the U.S., and now lives in Oakland. Doira artist Abbos Kosimov was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan to a musician family, and he studied with Uzbekistan Tuychi Inogomov and the Brothers Islamovs and Mamurjon Vahabov. He and his group "ABBOS" have won many awards and performed and recorded all over the world. Abbos has worked with Stevie Wonder, Randy Gloss, Austin Wrinkle, Houman Pourmehdi, Andrew Grueschow, Adam Rudolph, Zakir Hussain, Giovanni HIdalgo, Terry Bozzio, Swapan Chaudhuri and many others. His life work is to performand introduce Uzbek traditional music to the general public.



Sharlyn Sawyer and Miriam Peretz
Miriam Peretz

Miriam Peretz performs the woman's solo dance, Saname, from Tajikistan. Although there are similarities in the dance, music and poetry styles throughout Central Asia, each country has its own distinct forms. While the style and musical form is distinctly Tajik, the dance draws on movement vocabulary of neighboring Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan, and ads in elements of Soviet-era showmanship. The blending of elements from several Central Asian countries is representative of a post-Soviet blossoming of the performing arts.

Saname is performed with a hand-held frame drum called a daf. The frame drum has a long history and was associated with dance and ritual since Shamanic times. The circle of the daf evokes images of the moon, and the drum's sound was used to call on divine spirits during Shamanic rituals. These secular derivations performed by woman have long been an important part of festive occasions and celebrations in Central Asia. Saname, meaning "dearest one," is a popular Tajik song whose lyrics sing praises to a beautiful girl.

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