NEWS AND EVENTS
October 11, 2007
on awarding Dr.Laurel Victoria Gray the title ?Honorary Professor?
of Uzbek State Institute of Art
Tashkent, Uzbekistan - At a formal ceremony on August 29, 2007, at the Uzbekistan State Institute of Arts, American choreographer Laurel Victoria Gray was awarded the title of \"Honorary Professor\". This prestigious award -- a post-doctoral degree second only in rank to \"Academician\" -- recognizes Dr. Gray\'s achievements in preserving and promoting Uzbek dance and culture throughout the world. The degree was awarded under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and the Academic Council of the Uzbekistan State Institute of Arts named for Mannon Uygur. Founded in 1945, the Institute of Art, attracts talented young students from throughout Central Asia, training them in all aspects of the performing arts, cinema, theatre, and television.
Since 1979, Dr. Gray has been actively involved with cultural exchange between the United States and Uzbekistan. While living in Seattle, she served on the board of the Seattle Tashkent Sister City Association. She also founded the Tanovar Dance Ensemble which specialized in Uzbek dance. She arranged the 1989 \"Artists of Uzbekistan\" U.S. tour that culminated in a performance at the Smithsonian. That same year she headed the historic Seattle Soviet Theatre Arts Exchange which presented concerts at venues throughout Tashkent; in 1990, she coordinated the West Coast tour of the Uzbekistan Dance Company. In 1994, Gray established the annual Central Asian Dance Camp, offering classes in Uzbek dance technique and choreography to participants from the United States and Canada.
After her move to the Washington DC area, Dr. Gray founded the awarded winning Silk Road Dance Company in 1995. She often draws on Central Asian traditions to create concert programs celebrating the historical and cultural heritage of the Uzbek people. In 2001, her work Remembering the Legends: 3,000 years of Women on the Silk Road, premiered at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. More recently, The Golden Road to Samarkand marked the 2750th anniversary of the founding of Samarkand. In June of 2007, Gray chose the theme of \"Babur\'s Legacy: Exploring Uzbek-Indian Connections\" for the 11th Annual Central Asian Dance Camp. The undertaking combined dance classes and a concert featuring Uzbek and Indian artists as well as the Silk Road Dance Company.
As a dance instructor, choreographer, and dance scholar, Dr. Gray has presented lectures and classes on Uzbek dance throughout the United States, Europe, and Australia. She has included instruction in Uzbek dance in her university course, \"Dances of the Islamic World,\" which has been offered at both George Washington University and George Mason University. Her articles have been included in the Oxford University Press International Encyclopedia of Dance, the World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre, Encyclopedia of Women in Islamic Culture, and the Encyclopedia of Modern Asia. She has written for many dance publications and her work has appeared in French-Canadian, German, Russian, Finnish, and Uzbek magazines and newspapers.