Monday, August 14, 2006

About Our Tajik Team Members

Maruf Noyoft is twenty-four years old and lives in Dushanbe. His family is originally from Badakhshan. As a child he grew up loving music and after school Maruf attended the Tajik Government Institute of Culture to study music with a focus on Setar and vocals.
He currently works as a sound engineer for Theater Padida and has his own studio where he makes recordings of his own work as well as the work of other Tajik artists. Maruf is also a talented musician, vocalist and composer. Maruf comes from an artistic family and he performs with the group Shams and Samandar Pulodov. He has been recorded for backup vocals and tambour on various cds, and has worked as an actor for several recent films as well.

Maruf's personal statement: “I am in this project to learn further about traditional Badakhshani music and dance. Being of Badakhshani heritage I would like to research more in depth about my culture. I would also like to learn and exchange information about traditional music and dance from all around the world.”

Safina Abduarrazakova is twenty years old and is resident of Dushanbe. Her family is originally from Dushanbe and she has a long history of artists in her family who are actors and directors in Tajik theater and film. She currently studies at the Pedagogical University. Safina he is in her second year of school to obtain a bachelors’ degree in Psychology. Her grandfather, Habibullo Abdurazzokov, along with his wife, Sharofat Rashidova, founded the famous Theater Padida in Dushanbe. Theater Padida provides exemplary training for young and upcoming dancers, actors, singers and musicians from the local Tajik community. There are also many international exchange students from abroad (including current Ballet Afsaneh company members) who study, choreograph and are apprenticed with this prestigious Theater Company.

Safina's personal statement: “I like Pamirian dance and it is very interesting for me to learn about this particular style of dance. I want to learn the meanings and significances of this dance and also what importance dance holds in Badakhshani culture. I have been exposed to so much new traditional dance and music which I knew nothing to little about before. I know through being in the Humanities Link program I am gaining a greater understanding of these ancient and traditional art forms.”

Nasiba Imomnazarova is twenty years old and a resident of Dushanbe. Her family is originally from Badakhshan, her mother from Roshan and her father from Khorog. They presently reside in Dushanbe. Nasiba studies in Slavyanskiy University and is in her fourth year. She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in English. In her spare time she likes to spend time on the internet and go to the theater, cinema, museums and the botanical gardens.

Nasiba's personal statement: “First I want to know about my country’s ancient traditions. I want to say that it has been and it continues to be very enjoyable to be a part of this project. Also, this program is good practice for my language skills (during field expeditions, I use all four languages, Shugni, Russian, Tajik and English). Also, this program is the most unique and interesting way to spend my summer vacation; translating and learning about traditional Badakhshani dance and music. I am enjoying this unique opportunity to be in this program because I am learning about my heritage and it also gives me a chance to spend time with my family members who are locally based in Khorog.”

Dilrabo Shodmonbecova is twenty years old and a resident of Khorog. She studies at the Slavyanskiy University and she is in her fourth year of study. She is studying Economics Management. Her father is originally from Khorog and her mother is from Ghund. She has two sisters and one brother and they all work in Khorog. Her oldest sister just recently got married last week and the entire TDI team attended the wedding!

Dilrabo's personal statement: “I like this program because it is a good opportunity for me to practice my English skills. I am also very interested in learning about traditional and modern types of Badakhshani dance and music. The Humanities Link project has also reconnected me with my family and friends and due to this project I was able to revisit my family’s village after many years. I have made many lasting cross-cultural friendships within this program as well as many friendships in the villages we have visited.”

Uvaido Pulodov is the project's logistics consultant here in Badakshan. He has experience with numerous projects for international organizations over the past 10 years such as: Aga Khan Health Services where he taught computer technology and English for the medical teams, Mountain Societies Development Support Program (MSDSP) for Internet Communications Technology, and the UN World Food Program as an administrator, radio operator and computer technician. This experience has given him an incredible combination of skills. The team has come to rely on his technical and logistical expertise, and for his wise advice. Uvaido comes from a creative and musical background, many members of his family are well known as musicians and artists both in Tajikistan and internationally. He is a composer and musician directing his music ensemble Ovring ("mountain path to the light") and is familiar with most of the instruments played in Tajikistan. Uvaido and Ovring have performed in many concerts in his native Badakhshan. His resume also includes production of CD recording projects, live concerts and festivals.
  • Link to the MSDSP organization information on their programs in the Pamirs

  • Abdulnazir Turakhonov joined the TDI team in fall 2006, bringing his long time commitment to acting and theater performance, and his knowledge of classical Tajik and Iranian poetry. Originally from Isfara in the north of Tajikistan, he now resides in Dushanbe where he works with the Youth Theater directed by Barzu Abdurazaqov and has also worked with Padida Theater in Dushanbe and the Kamoli Khojandi Theater in Khojand.

    About Our International Team Members

    Our pilot program includes Humanities students and artists from the United States. Our future goal is to expand our international student team to include young scholars from many countries.

    Aliah Lynn Najmabadi, is a first generation Iranian-American. Her academic and artistic career focus is the preservation of the performing arts of Central Asia, Iran and the Diaspora. She has been a principal dancer with Ballet Afsaneh since the spring of 1998 and has served as Assistant Director. Aliah was a TDI team member in 2006 and returned this summer to continue work with the TDI project. In 2005 Aliah completed a BAACS sponsored artist residency at Padida Dance Theater in Tajikistan and returned there independently this spring of 2007 to continue her dance training with master teacher Sharofat Rashidova. Aliah holds a B.A. degree in both Iranian Studies and World Arts and Cultures from UCLA and is presently pursuing a Mmus Performance degree with a focus on Central Asian Dance at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in the United Kingdom. Aliah is deeply touched by the open hearts of the people of Badakshan and is honored to have returned this year as a TDI team member.
  • Aliah Najmabadi: More on the web.

  • Sonja Hinz is a graduate student in dance ethnology at the University of Hawaii and is working on her M.A. thesis on dance and spirituality in Tajikistan. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Western Washington University. As a dancer, she has worked with Shourangeez Persian Ensemble, Dar Salaam Moroccan Band, and Banat Sahar, all based in the Seattle-area of Washington State. The austere beauty and humbling grandeur of the Pamirs makes Sonja keep pinching herself, “Am I really here or have I been transported to paradise?”
  • Check out Sonja and Andy's Blog for more adventures.

  • Will Sumit is a student of the musical traditions of the Islamic world, and is currently a PhD candidate in the Ethnology department at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. He has a Masters degree in Central Asian Languages from the University of Washington and has conducted fieldwork n Central Asia and North Africa. His current research focuses on the medieval musical traditions of Herat and Bukhara in Central Asia, but he maintains a strong interest in the musical traditions of many other parts of the Islamic world from Morocco to Chinese Central Asia. His knowledge of Central Asian musical traditions, and his extensive experience in on-location field recording, has helped contribute to the success of TDI in our 2007 field expeditions.

    Tara Pandeya joined Ballet Afsaneh in 1997 and she currently performs as a principal dancer and soloist with the company. She has studied dance and music from Central Asia, India and the Middle East. Tara has traveled throughout India, the Middle East and Europe and has a great passion for linguistics. She has studied Arabic at the Language Institute of Fez, Morocco and completed Arabic courses at U.C. Berkeley. She also holds a teaching credential in English as a Second language. Tara is in her last year at Saint Mary’s College where she is pursuing a B.A. degree in international relations and dance through the LEAP program (Liberal Education for Dance Professionals). She teaches Central Asian dance classes for the BAACS community outreach programs of the Bay Area. Along with working on the TDI Humanities Link project in Khorog, she will also participate in a summer dance residency program in Dushanbe, Tajikistan at Padida Theater. Tara is grateful to have her wildest dreams realized by traveling to Tajikistan and being exposed to such rich and diverse traditional, dance, music and poetry from Badakhshan.
  • Interview with Tara Pandeya on the California Arts Council website
  • California Arts Council artist listing for Tara Pandeya

  • Andy Rick was born and raised in Minnesota. In 1996 he moved to Washington State where he received his bachelors in Communication from the University of Puget Sound in 2000. In 2003 he earned a degree in Audio Production from the Art Institute of Seattle. Most recently, Andy has taken up residency in Honolulu, Hawaii where his fiancée, Sonja Hinz, is earning her masters degree. Andy has found the culture of Badakhshan to be full of true hospitality and beautiful art.

    Part time 2007 team member Heather Rastovac is based in Seattle, Washington and has been studying various forms of Near Eastern dance since 1997. Heather performs the folkloric and classical dance forms of Iran, Kurdistan, the Arabian Peninsula, Turkey , North Africa and the Balkans.
    Heather's primary focus with dance is to contribute to cultural education. She is currently pursuing a double major in Cultural Anthropology and Near Eastern Language and Civilization (with a focus on Persian language and literature) and a minor in dance at the University of Washington. She plans to obtain a Master's Degree in Performance Studies with a focus on the Near East and Central Asia.
  • Visit Heather's Blog