I officially have the Azerbaijan itch - I recently attended the Nevruz concert at Town Hall in New York City, sponsored by TURKSOY, the International Organization of Turkic Culture. Nevruz is the festival celebrating the coming of spring and celebrating new life. The concert was a diverse program of dance, music, and singing with representation from countries such as Turkey, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Bosnia Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Tyva, Tatarstan, TRNC, Moldova, Bashkhkortostan, and more. To be honest, half of these countries I had never even heard of, but the music and style of dancing that comes from this area of the world is so unique from anything else I have ever seen; it really is a hidden gem of folk tradition. The uneven meters, the instrumentation, the style of throat singing, the particular enharmonic scales, and the seductive dancing of the women and the energetic and almost acrobatic dancing of the men make up the characteristics of this regions history and performance. Not to mention the costumes - SPECTACULAR!
My two favorite performances from the evening were first of Yevgeniy Ulugbasev from Khakassia - his performance of singing with laryngal technique (similar to Mongolian throat singing) and overtone singing was AMAZING and completely magical. The sounds that he was making with his voice just didn't seem human.
And of course, the State Dance Troupe of Azerbaijan stole the show. The men of the group started with a high energy drumming session, where throughout the performance, the drummers flipped and tossed their drums while continuing to keep perfect synchronized rhythm. They then returned to perform their traditional dance including jumping on their TOES, doing double turns in the air and then landing on their knees, leaping and flipping across the stage, doing full turns across the stage on their knees...I could go on and on. All I can say is WOW, and Azerbaijan, Bare Feet™ wants to come to you next!