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Performers

Introducing the artists performing for Festival of the Silk Road - 2014.

Ballet Afsaneh acclaimed performance ensemble of the Afsaneh Art & Culture Society.
The ensemble is well known for their dynamic performances of dance and the expressive arts from the many diverse cultures of the Silk Road regions of Eurasia. The Ballet Afsaneh team of artists are as deeply engaged in revitalizing traditional performance arts, as they are in the creation of innovative ethno-contemporary performance works inspired by universal themes.

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Chinese Performing Arts of America has since 1991 performed and presented Chinese culture as a world treasure of exceptional beauty and richness. With a repertoire is as abundant, diverse and colorful as China itself, the company includes dance, music, martial arts, and acrobatics, in delightful and enchanting performances. Original choreography, music and traditional works are informed by the rich 5,000 year history of Chinese arts. The principal dancers of CPAA are graduates of the prestigious Beijing Dance Academy, professionally trained in Chinese dance, drama, martial arts and western dance arts.

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Salar System featuring S.A.R.A (Sounds and Rhythms of Afghanistan) is an extraordinary ensemble of internationally recognized musicians, consisting of rubab, doyra, tabla, and vocals. Combining melody, rhythm, poetry, and dance, Salar System takes you on an evocative journey of cross-cultural communication and exchange. Salar Nader (tabla/dahol), Qais Essar (rebab), and Humayun Khan (vocals/harmonium), are deeply rooted to their traditions from Central Asia and effortlessly interweave and embody their craft, evoking the wonders of this beautiful and complex region.

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Mohammad Nejad of Nejad World Music - 2014 Festival Honoree
Nejad is a renowned multi-instrumentalist a master of ney, zurna, western flute, santur, kanun, oud, setar, dotar, tar, kemanche, violin, daf, dumbek, zarb, as well as accordion and keyboards. He effectively uses Persian instruments to add a Persian influence to Western classical, jazz, blues, new age, and flamenco. He also performs traditional Persian classical music. He has had the opportunity to perform and record with many diverse musicians and ensembles throughout the world presenting concerts in Asia, Europe, and the United States.

The Afsaneh Art & Culture Society will be honoring Mr. Nejad during the evening concert at Festival of the Silk Road - 2014 with a special Acheivement Award for his devotion and many contributions to the arts community of the Bay Area.

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Hasmik Harutyunyan of Yerevan, Armenia is an internationally renowned vocalist of traditional Armenian songs and an instructor of traditional Armenian dance. As a soloist she has appeared most notably with the Shoghaken Folk Ensemble and Agunk Ensemble of Armenian National Radio. In 2010, Hasmik received the Meritorious Artist of Armenia award during ceremonies at the Armenian president's residence in Yerevan.

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Elliyahu Sills will be accompanying Hasmik on the ney for the festival. Eliyahu has been performing music for over 20 years on multiple instruments.  He performs throughout the country as a solo artist, with his critically acclaimed bands BOLO, and The Qadim Ensemble, as well as collaborating with many highly acclaimed musicians.

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Pezhham Akhavass is an expert percussionist/multi instrumentalist who has toured, performed, and recorded internationally with some of the masters in Persian music including Shahram Nazeri, Kayhan Kalhor, and Hossein Alizadeh.

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Mehdi Bagheri is a composer and kamancheh and setar musician. Mehdi was born in Kermanshah Iran, and started his musical endeavors by learning to play the tonbak with Ramin Tafazoli. He then began the study of other traditional instruments to familiarize himself even further with Iranian music and composing. These included the setar and kamancheh but he finally chose the kamancheh as his primary instrument of study. Mehdi studied the kamancheh with Maestro Ardashir Kamkar, and also holds a BA degree in drama from Azad University. Mehdi has held many concerts and festivals around the world.

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Miriam Pertez is an internationally acclaimed performing artist and instructor specializing in traditional dances from the Silk Road & Middle East, as well as ethno-contemporary dance and various sacred dance forms. She was a principal dancer with Inbal Ethnic Dance Theater (Tel Aviv,) Wan Chao Dance Company (Bay Area,) and served as assistant artistic director of Ballet Afsaneh (Bay Area) for five years as well as a principal dancer, choreographer, and lead instructor with Ballet Afsaneh since 2003. A featured soloist in festivals throughout the U.S. and Europe, Miriam has performed with many acclaimed master musicians including: Amir Shahsar, Pezhham Akhavass, Abbos Kosimov, Habib Qaderi, and Sonja Drakulich of Stellamara.

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Hala Dance Company performs authentic Egyptian dances. The company was among the few Egyptian dance companies selected from over 115 other groups to perform at the prestigious San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival '04.

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ARAX Dance is an independent Armenian dance company specializing in the art of traditional and contemporary movement. It was founded 10 years ago under the leadership of Artistic Director and Choreographer Ms. Noemi Araxi, herself a former honored dance soloist with the Armenian National Ballet in Yerevan, Armenia. ARAX Dance prides itself on achieving a unique balance between authentic Armenian movements and modern, creative interpretation. Their mission is simple: To expose Bay Area audiences to the richness of Armenian culture through the art of dance.

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Edessa Music Ensemble passionately plays Balkan and Near Eastern dance music. Highly knowledgeable in the world dances and music they play, its multi-versatile members are renowned for their performances and recordings throughout the Bay Area and beyond.

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Zaryab Persian Music Ensemble with Neema Hekmat engages a renowned international cast specializing in both Persian and Western musical systems. In cooperation with Ballet Afsaneh dance artists, choreographers and collaborators, Zaryab Ensemble has developed numerous original compositions.

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Niosha Dance Academy was founded in 1991 by Niosha Nafei, to teach traditional and modern Persian/Iranian Dance. The student ensemble is a favorite at many events throughout Northern California with regional Persian/Iranian dances such as; Bandari, Turkish/Lezgee, Baba Karam, contemporary Modern/Pop, and traditional Persian Dancing.

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Tarangini School of Kathak Dance was established by the talented Anuradha Nag in 1992. It aims to contribute to the training of current and future generations in the field of Kathak, classical dance of North India and the richness of this cultural heritage. Disciples of Anuradha Nag perform for many prestigous events and concerts in the Bay Area, and are well known for their precision and creativity within the form.

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Chichaklar Dance Group is an Azerbaijani ensemble based in Vancouver, Canada. The aim of the group is to introduce this beautiful dance form to Canadian society, especially to the youth. Founded in 2009 by Shalaleh Rismani, they were inspired by the enthusiasm of the Iranian and Azeri community for Azeri dancing to start teaching dance classes. Shalaleh began by holding small size classes for female youth and adults, and in 2010 the group started performing at community events, gaining the enthusiastic support of various organizations and the public. Chichaklar now performs in many multicultural events and festivals.

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Afsaneh Dance Academy is the student dance ensemble of the Afsaneh Art & Culture Society - Ballet Afsaneh. Students receive training from master artists and perform Persian and Central Asian dances.

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Folk Dance Federation of California assists in organizing dance clubs and councils, promotes dance activities generally in Northern California, sponsors festivals, institutes, and teacher training, supports research in dances, music and costumes.

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Jeffrey Werbock is founder of the Mugham Society of America, an accomplished musician and composer, and guest lecturer at prominent universities throughout the US, Europe, and Azerbaijan.

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Amir A Etemadzadeh is a Middle Eastern musician, instructor, performer and composer. Born and raised in Iran, he received extensive musical education. After arriving in the US in 2002, Amir expanded his portfolio to include world music drums. He enjoys teaching, performing and collaborating with Iranian and international music ensembles.

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Siamak Pouian is recognized internationally as a highly accomplished Persian Tonbak player. Siamak has developed the technique of this instrument to its present-day category of a virtuoso solo instrument. He has been a music professor at University of California in Santa Barbara for many years and teaches at many other universities in Southern California, including his current post at the Pouian Music Conservatory in Orange County. Siamak is best known for his improvisational ability. A pioneer in his field, he continues to inspire audiences with his explosive repertoire.

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Artists of Past Festivals

Our sincere appreciation and gratitude to the hard working artists that have performed in past Festivals of the Silk Road (2009-2013).

  • Abhinaya - South Indian Dance Company
  • Afsaneh Dance Academy
  • Antonia Minnecola
  • ASKA Kolo
  • Aycan Yeter
  • Ballet Afsaneh
  • Bon Singer
  • Chinese Performing Arts of America
  • Dan Fries
  • The Ebrahimi Brothers
  • Edessa Music Ensemble
  • Fares & Kaveh Hedayati
  • Farideh Louie
  • Helene Eriksen
  • Imamyar Hasanov
  • The Iranian Musicians of Silicon Valley
  • Jeannette Ferber
  • Khukh Tenger Mongolian Folk Ensemble
  • Miriam Peretz
  • Moses Sedler
  • Niosha Dance Academy
  • Paul Ohanesian
  • Pedram Heydari
  • Pezhham Akhavaas
  • Pourya Khademi
  • Rachel Valfer
  • Rosa Rojas
  • Salokhiddin Fakhriev
  • Shadi Vaezzadeh
  • Shahrzad Dance Company
  • Sonja Drakulich
  • Sounds and Rhythms of Afghanistan (S.A.R.A.) with Salar Nader and Homayun Sakhi
  • Tameem & Ziya Afzali
  • Tara Pandeya
  • Tarangini School of Kathak Dance
  • Vionikos Greek Dance
  • Wan-Chao Dance
  • Yore Turkish Folkdance Ensemble
  • Zaryab Persian Music Ensemble with Neema Hekmat