Rhode Island's Island Moving Co. Makes Great Friends While Touring Kazakhstan

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Island Moving Co. toured to Kazakhstan this spring as part of the Company’s Great Friends Touring Project. This was the first international venture of the Project, which creates touring opportunities through simple trades with other dance companies. Companies from California, Missouri, Texas, Virginia and Florida have performed at the IMC’s Great Friends Dance Festival and have, in turn, hosted Island Moving Co. at their home venue. Samruk Dance, of Almaty, Kazakhstan, was part of the Festival in the summer of 2015 and invited Island Moving Co. to come to Kazakhstan in the spring of this year. 

Serendipitously, 2016 is the 25th anniversary of US/Kazakhstan relations. When the Embassy and Consulate learned that a cultural exchange between the two countries was in the works, they offered to expand the exchange by adding two cities to the tour as well as numerous outreach activities with schools and community centers. During the two weeks that IMC was in Kazakhstan we performed to sold out audiences in Almaty, Astana and Shymkent and interacted with teenagers at the American Corner, dance students at the Choreography College and young students at the Shymkent School. The two companies were greeted everywhere with open arms, feasts were laid out and many toasts were made. Kazakh artists performed traditional dances, music and songs and the IMC dancers learned and performed the Balbrun, a fierce Kazakh folk dance complete with swords, backflips and shouts. We performed it with Samruk, bringing down the house at each show.

Island Moving Co. was founded in 1982 by a group of choreographers seeking a forum for their work. Miki Ohlsen was elected Artistic Director; she has commissioned over 70 dances from guest and in-house choreographers. IMC has commissioned over a dozen musical scores as well as collaborations with visual artists, actors, and poets. Our 9 professional dancers are classically trained and remarkable for their intelligence and adventurous spirit. IMC works extensively with area schools, interacting with 5000+ children each year in RI, MA and FLA. Open for Dancing, its biennial site-specific dance festival, has engaged 600+ participants, 75+ musicians, and 30+ cultural non-profit partners and featured site specific work by choreographers such as Joanna Haigood, Noemie Lafrance, Monica Bill Barnes and Zach Morris.

Island Moving Company together with Kazakhstani contemporary dance theatre Samruk visited the Almaty metro and delivered a memorable performance in an unusual place. Enjoy the video!