In addition to Azerbaijani dance, since 1998, Sashar Zarif has conducted intensive ethnographic research into Sufi/Shamanic performing rituals (including both dance and music); traditional dance and music and contemporary popular culture of the Western and Near Asian regions.
In addition to providing lectures and seminars, Sashar teaches in master classes for organizations, schools and universities. A wide range of unique video and audio documentation taken by Sashar during his on-site research periods supports these classes.
Azerbaijani Dance is a graceful art form and powerful tool for working with the physical body as well as a spiritual discipline. the class aims at developing a basic dance vocabulary stemming from Azerbaijani training driven from both classical and folkloric art forms. Through repetition, we search for in -depth understanding of movement as the emphasis will be put on musicality and phrasing to enhance the spirit of dancing together. Utilizing movement patterns and exercises this class involves dancers’ relationship with the floor (earth/ground), the release of energy through the body, the centralization of movement, strength and speed.
In Azeri dance, expression is one of the main aspects of the dance. It is also based on three main aspects of the dance. It is also based on three main facts: the mood of the person, the setting which the dance is taking place, and animal animation. The Azerbaijani dance depicts ‘Life’. It is, therefore, based on natural movements and is not confined to symbolic gestures. It is subtle and true to life covering a very large canvas.
The former, the so-called technical part, is an abstract dance with a tremendous sense of rhythm and joy of movement.
HISTORICAL SOURCES. Azerbaijani roots can be traced far back into antiquity. Archaeological excavations have yielded rock paintings of silhouetted ritual dancers with musical instruments dating from the 5th to 3rd millennia BC a Stone Age percussion instrument called Gaval-das (‘frame drum of stone’) from Kobustan and prototype of a wind instrument made of bone from Mingaechaur.