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Ustad Farida Mahwash, also known as the “Voice of Afghanistan,” has dedicated herself to mastery of Afghan music for more than five decades. She is collaborating with Ballet Afsaneh, a dance company that has devoted years to mastering and preserving traditional Afghan dance. Together they will create Safar – Journey (working title), a tribute to the many influences found in Mahwash’s music, including classical and folk songs and Sufi poetry.

Ballet Afsaneh and the lead artist will engage in a process of research, discovery, and preservation, exploring relationships among voice, instrument, poetry, and dance in Afghan arts. The project’s team of artists includes Khalil Ragheb, a master of the harmonium, singer, and composer; Siddique Ahmed, a multi-instrumental artist and bassist for Kabal Dreams, the first rock band from Afghanistan; and the dancers of Ballet Afsaneh under artistic director Sharlyn Sawyer with choreographic support from Samia Karimi.

This project was intended to culminate as live, community events, but, instead, will be a film due to restrictions on public gatherings due to COVID-19. The film should be completed in spring 2022. “I am excited about this collaboration because traditional Afghan music and dance are not often presented on the same stage” Mahwash writes. “Music and dance, especially for girls and women, is not supported, even to this day.” Together the artists hope to shine a positive light on Afghanistan, creating a beautiful experience while passing on traditional teachings.