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Antonia Minnecola collaborating with Afsaneh Art and Culture Society—Ballet Afsaneh–and other artists

Award: $40,000 Traditional Arts grant awarded in 2009

Premiered: November 20-21, 2010, at the Cowell Theater, San Francisco

Dancer Antonia Minnecola collaborated with Sharlyn Sawyer, artistic director of Ballet Afsaneh, and other artists to create a new performance work that drew upon the confluence of traditional cultures along Eurasia’s ancient Silk Road. The artists’ vision for the work, titled Encounters: New Moon on the Silk Road, was to create a mutable theatrical framework, wherein each element, either traditional or newly crafted, became an integral part of the finished picture.  A series of “theatrical landscapes” unbound by specific places, times, or cultures, allowed both traditional passages and innovative combinations to emerge throughout the performance. Photographic images and video projections also were used during some sections of the work. Excerpts are available on YouTube.

Antonia Minnecola spent most of her artistic life working in the traditional style of Kathak from Northern India and touring with her husband  Zakir Hussain.  She trained in the traditional learning system of guru-shishya-parampara with the legendary Kathak dancer Sitara Devi. Her collaborating partner, Ballet Afsaneh, has delved deeply into the classical and folk dance and music of the Central Asian cultures of Iran, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Chinese Turkistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkey.

Also collaborating were Bon Singer, founder and director of Ya Elah vocal ensemble, instrumentalists and composers Moses Sedler, Neema Hekmat, Pourya Khademi, Rachel Valfer, Shira Kammen; percussionists Salar Nader, Salokhiddin Fakhriev, and Peter Maund; and dancer/choreographers Wan-Chao Chang and Miriam Peretz. Ultimately 20 artists contributed to the performance.