Laurel Gray

The Gilded Serpent presents...

Laurel Gray

Laurel Victoria Gray has taught and performed throughout Europe, Central Asia, Australia, the United States and Canada. She is a recipient of the Kennedy Center's 2003 Local Dance Commissioning Project Award and the International Academy of Middle Eastern Dance Awards for Best Choregrapher (2003) and Best Ethnic Dancer (1999).

Although her early dance training included ballet, tap, folk and modern dance, Ms. Gray first discovered Middle Eastern folk music and dance in high school. In 1975, she began formal lessons in Arabic dance. She continued lessons in various Middle Eastern dance forms along with her academic studies. Her teachers include leading experts such as Qizlarhon Dustmuhamedova, Viktoria Akilova, Galia Ismailova, Tamara Khanum, Kadir Muminov, Mahmoud Reda, Ahmed Jarjour, Ercument Kilic, Shamiran Urshan, Madame Nellie Mazloum and many others.

While enrolled in the Ph.D. program at the University of Washington, Ms. Gray assisted in hosting a delegation of dancers from Uzbekistan and first became exposed to this rare, intricate form.She has traveled to Uzbekistan ten times, living there for two years at the invitation of Tashkent's State Academic Bolshoi Theater and appearing on television dance programs over a dozen times. She was a member of the jury for the 1997 International Music Festival Sharq Taronalari (Melodies ofthe East) which was held in Samarkand and for the 1993 Uzbekistan PuppetTheater Festival.

Ms. Gray's articles have appeared in many publications including the Oxford University Press International Encyclopedia of Dance, the World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theater and the Encyclopedia of Modern Asia and Dance magazine as well as journals in Germany and Australia. She has lectured for the Middle East Institute, Humanities West and the Assembly of Turkish American Associations. Her Washington D.C. performances include the National Press Club, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Geographic Society, the State Department, the Uzbek Embassy (for President Islam Karimov), and numerous Iranian, Egyptian, and Turkish organizations, in addition to museums and universities. She has also been a guest instructor at all the major Middle Eastern dance camps and retreats held annually in the United States, including the Mendocino Middle Eastern Music and Dance Camp, the Oasis Dance Camp, Delilah's Visionary Retreat in Maui, Morocco's week-long seminar in New York City, and the Central Asian Dance Camp. In 1999, she studied Egyptian folklore in Cairo. Ms. Gray is also the founder and president of the Uzbek Dance and Culture Society and Artistic Director of the Silk Road Dance Company.

Ms. Gray teaches "Dances of the Islamic World" and "Dances of Egypt" as Adjunct Faculty at George Washington University and George Mason University.She has also taught Russian and Soviet History at North Seattle Community College and was an education outreach instructor for New York's City Center Theater in 1990, introducing thousands of middle school students to Georgian dance. For several years she gave instruction in traditional Persian dance at the Iranian Community School in Vienna, Virginia. In the fall of 2003, she taught at the Rakkasah Middle Eastern Dance Festival.

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Articles on Gilded Serpent by or about Laurel Gray

  • Pele's Gift
    As Nona began to demonstrate the first dance, I noticed many gestures in common with Central Asian dance. I felt as if another piece of our giant dance puzzle had fallen into place when Nona gestured to her heart and said, "the real hula comes from here."