Folk Dance Federation of California, South, Inc.
By Dick Oakes
THIS IS HISTORICAL INFORMATION ONLY
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The AVAZ International Dance Theatre was founded in 1977 under the artistic direction of choreographer Dr. Anthony Shay, and was formed by Heritage & Tradition, Inc., a non-profit educational, corporation dedicated to the promulgation of world folk culture. From its founding, AVAZ traveled locally, nationally and internationally presenting the dances, music, costumes, and customs of diverse regions of the world from the Balkans, Hungary, Croatia, Greece, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia, the area of Caucsia, North Africa, and Uzbekistan, among others.
The mission of AVAZ contained two important aspects: 1) preserving and performing traditional and folk dance and music from a wide variety of cultures and 2) educating the widest possible audience about these art forms and the societies and peoples they represent. AVAZ fulfilled this mission through performances by its professional ensemble of artists, both in Southern California and nationally, and through an extensive educational outreach program that served elementary, middle and high school pupils, college and university students, community organizations, and the general public.
In the view of Shay, the stage presentation of traditional / ethnic / folk dances, songs, music, costumes, and customs required authentication and documentation. This was done through hours of dedicated and intensive research in the form of bibliographic searching, studying scholarly books and articles in a variety of languages, viewing and reviewing video cassettes, attending master classes at home and abroad, traveling abroad to visit museums, and interviewing knowledgeable performers and scholars. Due to this exacting research, AVAZ was highly respected in the artistic and academic community for its attention to authentic detail and nuance in movement, sound, and costuming.
From 1954, Shay had amassed an impressive research library containing thousands of rare works on costume history and production, dance, music, and ethnography, all of which were utilized in the design and production of many of the costumes, sounds, and dances found in a typical AVAZ evening.
From the beginning, AVAZ maintained intensive relationships with the ethnic communities whose traditions the company portrayed on stage, and many of the company's board members and performers came from these communities.
Spring Concert, 1979
Dances and Music of the Silk Road, 1999
Because most of Dr. Shay's works were intended for repertory companies, they received multiple performances, sometimes more than a hundred times. Im Anush Daviq, an Armenian choreography he composed in 1979, was a permanent part of the AVAZ repertoire for many years and received at least 200 performances during that time period. Following are some of the dances and suites that Dr. Shay choreographed for AVAZ.
|Çiftetelli Suite||Ottoman Turkey||1995|
|Dances of the Ghawazi||Egypt||1994|
|Dances of Bojnurd||Iran||1993|
|Dances of Split||Croatia||1992|
|Dances of Posavina V||Croatia||1991|
|Azerbaijan Suite III||Azerbaijan||1990|
|Dances of Pokuplje||Croatia||1987|
|Running Sets II||USA||1986|
|Dance of Qaraqanah||Tunisia||1985|
|The Dancing Out||Hungary||1985|
|Dance of Qajar Court||Iran||1984|
|Dances of Šumadija IV||Serbia||1984|
|Running Sets I||USA||1983|
|Dances of Baluchistan||Iran||1982|
|Ballos from Sifnos||Greece||1980|
|Dances of Torbat Jam||Iran||1980|
|Persian Gulf Suite||Iran||1979|
|Dances of Posavina IV||Croatia||1979|
|Banat Suite III||Serbia||1978|
|Im Anush Daviq||Armenia||1978|
|Bandari (Persian Gulf)||Iran||1977|
|The following were choreographed for AMAN Folk Ensemble and later re-choreographed for AVAZ.|
|Dances of Bukhara||Uzbekistan||1967|
|Bunjevačko Momačko II||No. Serbia||1966|
|Dances of Eastern Serbia||Serbia||1964|
|Dajčovo Horo II||Bulgaria||1963|