8/27/19: Today, I’m bringing you a dance festival whose style defies description. This is the annual Russian event known as the Shemakhinskaya Bayaderka Festival. When trying to describe the style of the dance, the best I could come up with is tribal meets bellydancing meets hip hop meets flamenco meets modern with elements of classical ballet and a little of the dancing Orion Slave Girls thrown in for fun. The festival incorporates as many dance styles as there are letters in its name! Whatever you call it, it’s undoubtedly gorgeous.
The (endless) name of the Festival translates as Dancer from Shemakha. Part of the ancient city of the Shirvan Khanate, Shemakha was originally part of the Russian Empire and is now part of Azerbaijan. No matter who is in charge, the region has always been known for its dancers.
One of the things I love about the festival (besides its defiance of definition) is the fact that the participants appear to be able to interpret the style however they like, to make it entirely their own. Mind-blowing stuff.
You can follow the Shemakhinskaya Bayaderka Festival on YouTube and Instagram. (If you only watch one of the videos, make it the first one. Absolutely hypnotic. I suspect that it’s pretty close to what those Egyptians on the tombs actually looked like in motion.)
I’m not able to embed the videos, so you’ll need to click the links to see the performances. I promise they’re worth the effort: