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Flying Free: Soaring Past Stereotypes of Afghan Women

Choreographer Miriam Peretz says the news media too often only shows the the bad, the ugly and the evil of Afghanistan, a country that has been engaged in conflict and war, on and off since the 1970s. The dance troupe, Ballet Afsaneh is working to change those perceptions through the arts.

Afsaneh means, mythic story.  Their story began when they formed in 1986, but their big push came after the Taliban took power and began to put limits on art and culture.

Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Ballet Afsaneh travels to venues and festivals around the world, performing dances of Central Asia.

One of those dance forms is the Attan, the traditional Afghan dance. Attan has long been performed at weddings or other celebrations throughout Afghan history. Many consider it the national dance of Afghanistan, but it’s a part of Afghan culture that many in the West rarely see.  Now, these women are taking it upon themselves to break down stereotypes and to keep ancient traditions alive.

Ballet Afsaneh consists of people of all ethnic backgrounds and is not just limited to people of Afghan decent. 

Here is a peek at the world premiere of the Attan: Parwaz - Fly Free from this year's San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival. The dancers are accompanied by world class masters of Afghan music, Homayun Sakhi and Salar Nade.



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