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Viloyat Akilova

Master Choreographer

Tashkent, Uzbekistan

"Dance is happiness ... it is life."

Mme. Akilova has entrusted Gulistan with

over a dozen choreographies in the Akilov tradition.

Viloyat Akilova hails from one of the great families of the Bukharan professional dance tradition--a tradition which defines one of the three major styles of Uzbek Dance. The eldest of five children, she was born in Samarkand in 1936 to two young and ambitious performers. Her father, the late and highly-revered dance master, Isakhar Akilov, People's Artist of Uzbekistan, followed in the footsteps of his mother, a favorite dancer of the Emir of Bukhara. Viloyat's mother, Margarita, was also a People's Artist. In addition, Viloyat's sisters, Gauhar and Lola, are celebrated dancers, as was her late sister, Zuleikha. The Akilov school of Uzbek dance, which grows directly out of the pre-Soviet, professional Central Asian tradition, now claims its fourth generation as Lola passes the legacy on to her two daughters.

As a small child, Viloyat toured the collective farms of Soviet Uzbekistan with her parents--becoming known as "Little Artist Akilova" among the workers for whom she danced. The Akilovs, traveling by way of a cart pulled by donkey or horse, would be welcomed by crowds of children eager to meet the young Viloyat. Then, at age 7, Viloyat--already a veteran performer--was accepted at the newly-opened Uzbek State Choreographic Institute in Tashkent. She went on to complete her high school education at the Institute while performing regularly with her father's Shodlik ensemble. She later served as Shodlik's principal dancer and was praised for her powerful technique, heartfelt expression and beautiful, supple hands--which were often the subject of the camera's lens.

Upon Viloyat's retirement from Shodlik at age 40, as was mandatory under the Soviet system, she made her way to Moscow to work and study with the great Igor Moiseyev. During her two years in Moscow, she produced for his company an acclaimed suite of Uzbek folk dances, launching her career as a choreographer and earning her the title of People's Artist of Uzbekistan--the republic's highest artistic honor. She next worked as a choreographer in Afghanistan for one year and, after returning to Tashkent, became founding Artistic Director of Zerafshon--an ensemble specializing in Bukharan and Tajik dance--where she remained until 1994.

Viloyat counts among her protegées several of the most beloved soloists in the country--many of them Merited Artists, and one of them a People's Artist. She is a master choreographer in all styles of Uzbek dance--Ferghana, Khorezm and Bukhara--and remains one of Tashkent's most sought-after dancemakers.

© 2011 by Carolyn Krueger. All rights reserved.

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