On October 11, 2014 the famous San Diego Ballet and Grossmont Symphony Orchestra performed the historic Azerbaijani ballet “Seven Beauties” to a full house at the Civic Theater in San Diego, California.
This internationally renowned ballet, with a message of acceptance and multi-cultural understanding, was generously sponsored by the Ministry of Culture & Tourism of Azerbaijan, and presented by the Consulate General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles. Over 3000 Americans enjoyed the stunning performance, which was the ballet’s premiere in the United States, and presented beautiful lessons on just governance, the wisdom of women, and the value of diversity.
Many American elected officials attended the performance, including Congresswoman Susan Davis. The San Diego Ballet was able to capture the passion and elegance of this ancient tale, and translate it to the U.S. stage.
“This ballet exemplifies the values of tolerance, inclusion, and multiculturalism- the values that the people of Azerbaijan have been cherishing for millennia. My hope is that this performance will serve as another contribution to introducing the rich history of art and culture of Azerbaijan to the people of the United States, and specially California. I am confident that through events like these, we can spur a dialogue about friendship, inclusion and acceptance,” stated Nasimi Aghayev, Consul General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles.
“We were thrilled to take on the challenge of bringing this historic and important cultural event to life,” said Javier Velasco, Director of the San Diego Ballet. “The performance of this piece is so relevant in a time when communities around the world are being torn apart by cultural intolerance. The company was thrilled to be chosen by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Culture & Tourism for this project, and to work with the Grossmont Symphony Orchestra.”
“Our orchestra tremendously enjoyed performing this beautiful music. And I hope we will have many more performances of Azerbaijani music over the years ahead,” said Randall Tweed, renowned conductor of the Grossmont Symphony Orchestra.
Following the performance there was a VIP reception where proclamations from elected officials from all over the State of California were presented to Consul General Aghayev and members of the Azerbaijani delegation. Speaking at the reception, Members of the Azerbaijani Parliament Mr. Samad Seyidov and Mr. Asim Mollazade, as well as President of the Union of Composers of Azerbaijan Mrs. Firangiz Alizade, highlighted the importance of the ballet and its premiere in the United States.
Composed in 1952 by the famous Azerbaijani composer Gara Garayev, this ballet is based on motifs of the “Seven Beauties” poem, written 1197 by great Azerbaijani poet Nizami Ganjavi. The story revolves around a young prince who is destined to become ruler of the world—but must first encounter seven beautiful princesses of varying ethnic backgrounds who teach him important lessons he must heed in order to fulfill his calling.
The beauty of this particular production is that in addition to the poem’s historical and cultural significance, the freedom of interpretation was exercised to include the beauty of traditional Azerbaijani culture, as well as elements that surprised and delighted the American audience.