WORLD PREMIERE / East Turkestan, Uyghur Autonomous Xinjiang
Soloist Tara Catherine Pandeya and musician Ali Paris are joining their talents for the first time for this performance, presenting their world premiere collaboration. Mirajaxan is a court dancer’s tale, with dance from East Turkestan, Uyghur Autonomous Xinjiang.
Pandeya brings to the piece her nuanced movement vocabulary, learned in immersive experience in Central Asia. Her choreography elaborates and interprets regional dance styles with spins, knee spins, deep backbends, intricate footwork, and fine hand articulation intricately connected to melodies.
Paris improvises melodies on the qanun, a rare 76-string zither dating back to the 14th century. He sings a Uyghur folk song about the joys and pains of sacred longing. The first lines are sung in Uyghurche, a Turkic language from Central Asia:
Are you going away like this, are you leaving me like this, my dear Mirajaxan?
This dance/musical styling originates from East Turkestan, with a classical court call and response called sawal jawab. Melodies are played within a traditional Arabic system of modes called maqam. Each maqam is built on a different set of notes and their relationships, including half-, quarter-, and micro-tones, along with habitual phrases, emphasized notes, melodic development, and modulation.
Tara Catherine Pandeya is a second-generation dancer/choreographer who is dedicated to dance from Central Asia. As a principal dancer with Cirque du Soleil, she performed 1,500 shows on 5 continents. She is the first Westerner to perform with Lola, the National Ensemble of Tajikistan. She has received choreographic commissions from UNESCO, the Bauhaus Festival, Cambridge, and the Taichung National Opera. She has conducted residencies with Kiaorstami’s Culturistan (Paris), through the Rockefeller Foundation (Pakistan) and CecArtslink (Russia). She is a current Fulbright scholar whose work has been featured on the BBC.
Ali Paris is renowned for his mastery of the qanun, and is one of only a handful of musicians across the globe who play the instrument. He has collaborated with a long list of world-renowned artists such as Alicia Keys, Quincy Jones, Javier Limón, and Bobby McFerrin. His solo performances have reached diverse audiences from the Newport and Istanbul Jazz Festivals to the White House in Washington DC and the Royal Palace in Jordan, where he played for both the President of Palestine and the Queen of Jordan.