Sunday, August 27, 2006


The road to Murgab was long and bumpy, especially in the Russian jeep we hired. To make matters worse, a couple hours into the trip, Andy's old friends, the stomach bacteria, decided to pay him a visit. Needless to say, eight hours later, when we reached the guesthouse in Murgab, Andy was curled up in the fetal position in the back of the jeep. We were hoping to stay in a yurt becasue we heard there were many in Murgab . . . and there are, but not in the "center" or city. They're all in the open landscape in the summer, occupied by semi-nomadic yak herders. The ACTED guesthouse did us well, though. Sonja was more than pleased when she woke up to a nice hot bowl of "sheer berenj," a hot rice and milk breakfast dish (Andy stomached about two spoonfuls). In the morning we went to the bazaar, where we bought some hats (the local population wears some great hats). Meanwhile, Uvaido was busy setting up a show for us at the local "cultural club." So, in the afternoon, we headed over to the theatre where we saw a variety show of national Kyrgyz, Badakhshani, and "modern" music and dance. The next morning, we headed out early for the 10 hour drive back to Khorog. Along the way, we pulled over and visited a real yurt and were invited in for tea and delicious hommade yogurt . . . of course we HAD to stop at the hot springs in Jalandi on the way back. It just would be right if we didn't.

Monday, August 21, 2006


We're back from Ishkashim and another great Badakhshan adventure. Ishkashim is a region (and a city) south of Khorog, about an 8 to 10 hour drive. On the first day, we got a very late start and decided to go only as far as Garmcheshma, which translates as Hot Springs. In Garmcheshma, there is a natural hot spring and a guesthouse where we planned to stay for the night, but the guesthouse was full so we ended up staying at the house of a local Physics teacher. After dinner, we went for an evening soak in the outdoor hot spring pool under the stars . . . at least the men did. The women went to a small builing to relax in privacy. Early next morning, we hit the road after a hearty bowl of sheer choy, or milk tea, and bread. Along the way, we stopped at another natural hot springs for a quick soak. After reaching Ishkashim city, we drove for another two and a half hours until we reached a village set on the steep slopes of the river valley. At the bottom of the village we found some musicians who were excited to arrage a performace for us the following day. At the top of the village . . . another natural hot spring and a guesthouse, which was also full. So we foud ourselves a freshly slaughtered goat and a kind family to host us for the night. The next morning we soaked and then went back down to the bottom of the valley to see dance and music in the oldest home in the area. They said no one really knows when the home was built, but guessed it to be hundreds of years old, possibly 18th century! On our way out there was a wonderful impromptu dance party the small courtyard of the ancient home. When the dancing ended, we drove futher down the road to another village where, with the help of a man from the first village, we found another home to host our party of 10 for the night, this time a border guard and his family. In the morning, Uvaido set out early and found some amazing dancers and musicians to perform at our host's home. Once again, we enjoyed a wonderful performance where eveyone danced. We left at about one o'clock and reached Khorog at about 10, where our wonderful house cook, Hodja Bagum, was waiting up for us with a huge pot of food.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Try this link, it should bring you to an mp3 file I uploaded to the ether.
Farosatshaw, maddoh excerpt

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Video of Badakhshani Dancing

Thanks for the feedback on the video. I re-uploaded it so now it should be better quality. Stay tuned for more videos.
Also, next week we're going to Ishkashim for more music and dance.

Get this video and more at

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Pictures from Khorog

Saturday, August 05, 2006


We apologize for the lack of posts, here on the blogosphere. For the last two weeks we've been kept busy by some exciting ethnodanceomusicological activity in Badakhshan! Yes, we made it to Khorog! At first we were going to fly, but then (as things happen in Tajikistan) at the last minute our plane was canelled and we (along with Aliah and Tara, the other American dancers on the project) found a ride with a couple Italians on their own ethnomusicological journey and Aliah's friend, Aya, from America who just happens to be doing her own academic work in Tajikistan. Long story short, we had a wonderful, two day, bumpy van ride from Dushanbe to Khorog. We stopped in a village called Darvoz where there just happen to be a huge party for someone's 70th birthday . . . we danced, of course. There, we were generously hosted by the head of the village and his family. Upon arrival in Khorog, we were met by Sharlyn and Robyn, who had found us a large house (with an indoor bathroom) in the center of town, wonderfully close to the bazaar. There are two interns from Dushanbe, Maruf and Safina, who flew in to Khorog the day after we arrived. There are also two interns from Khorog, Nasiba and Dilya, who joined the group and help us with language (people here speak Shughni as well as Tajik and some Russian, of course) and cultural intracacies. Finally, Uvaido is our logisical go to guy who helps us set up the meetings with dancers and musicians, arranges for drivers, gets us internet in the middle of the Pamirs, and shows us a good time. Anyway, after the first week, Sharlyn and Robyn took off back to America, leaving us to run the project ourselves . . . and here's what we do . . . in a nutshell: Uvaido and a driver and a couple of us drive out to a village and just stop by the house of a well known musician. Uvaido performs his magic and asks if maybe tomorrow they can set up a performance of Pamiri music (Rapo, Falak, Maddoh etc.) and get a dancer or two. Oh yeah, and there will be about a dozen guests with video cameras and a microphone! They say "O.K" and we return the next day in 2 or 3 cars and are invited into a traditional Pamiri home where there is a meal prepared and a curious family watching and serving us and musicians preparing to play. After tea and some food the performance begins and we capture it on video and people are taking notes and Andy's recording the music (we thought we were dreaming the first time we found ourselves in this situation) and then they stop and eat with us and we do some interviewing and chatting. On our way out we give them some gifts of food and money and things for the children and go on our way. We've gone to about 5 or so homes now in two different regions, Roshtkala and Ghund. In the next couple of weeks we'll go to Ishkashim and the Bartang Valley as well as meeting some people in Khorog and doing follow up interviews. So, that's the scoop. We have lots of pictures and we'll post them as we get the opportunity. The connection here isn't so fast (or always working) so it might take some time to upload photos.