is happiness ... it is life."
Carolyn's artistic relationship with V. Akilova
spanned nearly a decade and is summarized
at the end of this article. The mentorship
Carolyn and Gulistan received from Mme. Akilova
is a rare and treasured gift.
Viloyat Akilova hails from one of the great families of the Bukharan professional
dance tradition--a tradition which defines one of the three major styles of Uzbek Dance. The eldest of five children, she was born in Samarkand in 1936 to two
young and ambitious performers. Her father, the late and highly-revered dance
master, Isakhar Akilov, People's Artist of Uzbekistan, followed in the footsteps
of his mother, a favorite dancer of the Emir of Bukhara. Viloyat's mother, Margarita,
was also a People's Artist. In addition, Viloyat's sisters, Gauhar and Lola, are celebrated
dancers, as was her late sister, Zuleikha. The Akilov school of Uzbek dance, which
grows directly out of the pre-Soviet, professional Central Asian tradition, now
claims its fourth generation as Lola passes the
legacy on to her two daughters.
As a small child, Viloyat toured the collective farms of Soviet Uzbekistan with
her parents--becoming known as "Little Artist Akilova" among the workers for whom
she danced. The Akilovs, traveling by way of a cart pulled by donkey or horse,
would be welcomed by crowds of children eager to meet the young Viloyat. Then, at age
7, Viloyat--already a veteran performer--was accepted at the newly-opened Uzbek State Choreographic
Institute in Tashkent. She went on to complete her high school education at the Institute
while performing regularly with her father's Shodlik ensemble. She later served as Shodlik's principal dancer and
was praised for her powerful technique, heartfelt expression and beautiful, supple
hands--which were often the subject of the camera's lens.
Upon Viloyat's retirement from Shodlik at age 40, as was mandatory under the Soviet
system, she made her way to Moscow to work and study with the great Igor Moiseyev.
During her two years in Moscow, she produced for his company an acclaimed suite
of Uzbek folk dances, launching her career as a choreographer and earning her
the title of People's Artist of Uzbekistan--the republic's highest artistic honor.
She next worked as a choreographer in Afghanistan for one year and, after returning
to Tashkent, became founding Artistic Director of Zerafshon--an ensemble
specializing in Bukharan and Tajik dance--where she remained until 1994.
Viloyat counts among her protegées several of the most beloved
soloists in the country--many of them Merited Artists, and one of them a People's
Artist. She is a master choreographer in all styles of Uzbek dance--Ferghana,
Khorezm and Bukhara--and remains one of Tashkent's most sought-after dancemakers.
Carolyn & Viloyat
Carolyn traveled alone to a newly-independent Uzbekistan under a grant from ArtsLink,
a program of CEC International Partners. She arrived in the capital
city of Tashkent with hopes of studying with her first choice of
teachers, Viloyat Akilova. Within two days, Carolyn was invited to
study and reside with Mme. Akilova in her home. In the weeks ahead,
Viloyat and Carolyn maintained a demanding daily schedule of non-stop
dance training and dance-related activities. Carolyn returned from her
tour with several Uzbek and Tajik solos choreographed for her by
Viloyat, along with a full complement of costumes.
Carolyn again traveled to Tashkent under an ArtsLink grant. During this
trip, she documented Mme. Akilova's career while the two worked together on new
solos and costuming. In addition, Viloyat provided Carolyn the opportunity to
become the first foreign professional dancer to dance in the official Navroz (New
Year) Festival on March 21st--a grand traditional pageant involving hundreds of
performers and craftspeople from around the country. Carolyn also performed with Mme. Akilova's ensemble,
Tashkent Yulduzlara--including a concert at the Mayor's Mansion--gave radio and
television interviews, and was showcased in a 30-minute program aired on Tashkent
Television featuring five
of the solos choreographed for her by Mme. Akilova.
Carolyn hosted Mme. Akilova during her 17-day choreographic
residency with Gulistan Dance Theater. During this first-ever visit to Los Angeles,
Mme. Akilova choreographed two new solos for Carolyn: "Kari Nava" in the Ferghana style, and an important
piece from the classical Bukharan repertoire, "Saqiname Ufar-i Bayot." In addition, she set two pieces on Gulistan Dance Theater: "Guldasta," a famous Bukharan choreography by her father, Isakhar Akilov, and "Akh! Yoshligim," a comical Khorezm dance. This residency
marks the first time Mme. Akilova has directed a non-native Uzbek dance company.
The new dances were videotaped for airing on Tashkent Television in a documentary
about Mme. Akilova's work with Gulistan.
Viloyat returned to Los Angeles and Gulistan once more received the
benefit of her artistic direction as she set the important Bukharan
classical dance "Chaharzarb" the ensemble with the solo section featuring Ms. Krueger.
© 2011 by
Carolyn Krueger. All rights reserved.
Unauthorized use, downloading
by any means constitutes violation of copyright.