Theater archives

Upright Women Sanctify Unions with Intricate Gestures and Steps


There’s still one chance to catch Jewish wedding festivities at the 92nd Street Y: Coming on February 3, Moroccan ceremonies. The Bukharan evening reflected a people at a crossroads where, for instance, singer Abukhay Aminov’s powerful melisma united cantor and minaret caller, and Queens-based Shashmaqam laid down musical rhythms beloved by Middle Eastern dancers. But Bukharan dancing features no undulant torsos or saucy hip work. When they dance, sozandas—powerful women who drum and sing blessings as they lead the bride’s pre- and post-nuptial celebrations—maintain a firm, erect carriage. This trains attention on quick little footsteps and turns, shoulder shimmies, and arm and hand movements as intricately decorative as their gowns, hats, and veils. We were richly, repeatedly blessed by four engaging sozandas—Tofakhon Pinkhasova, Firuza Yahudaeva, Travis Fontaine Jarrell, and glamorous Tamara Kattayeva—whose eye-popping costume changes alone were worth the price of admission.