In the extreme South of the Russian Federation, spreading along the ridges of the Greater Caucasus and the plains bordering on the Caucasian foothills lies a remarkable Mountain Country known as Dagestan. This is a land of severe cliffs, lush Alpine meadows and plains lying below the sea-level, of the sweeping Caspian Sea where one comes across the polar seal, and stretches of forest land, the home of the Southern ounce.

From times of old Daghestan has retained still another name - Land of Languages. Only here one can meet people that speak over 30 languages. The Northern, flat Daghestan is populated by Kumyks and Nogais, the mountain lands - by the most numerous people - the Avars, the mountains and foothills - by Dargins, Lezgins, Laks, Tabasarans, Rutuls, Aguls and Tsakhurs.

What is the most important - all these peoples understand one another and are united by the common effort for the good of their native Daghestan. The Daghestan peoples practice stock raising, fishing and fruit-growing; they grow cereals, work in plants and factories, oil and gas fields, and build irrigation canals and dams by hydro-electric power plants.

For ages Daghestan has been famous for its folk crafts. Of remarkable beauty and truly invaluable are the works of art produced by the Kubachi and Gotsatli goldsmiths, the Lezgins and Tabasarans carpet-weavers, the Untsukul wood-carvers, and the Balkhar potters, all of which have earned worldwide fame. Paris, Brussels and other cities were smitten by the beauty of this unique works of art.

The people's culture, however, is not only the product of its skilled goldsmiths, carpet-weavers or potters. It is transmitted from one generation to another in its poetry, songs and dances. The mountain people's Lezginka dance is truly national and popular, and no holiday can do its merry fiery temperament.

They say that the Daghestan people dance from the cradle. This is certainly a bit of an exaggeration but there is no denying that upon learning to walk Daghestany child usually makes his first dancing steps. And children dancers win the greatest admiration of the viewers - abroad and at home, in their native town or village. The impetuous whirling Lezginka dance leaves no one indifferent and its elegant graceful movements are as exhilarating as they are unique.

It is after this traditional popular dance that the Lezginka Ensemble has been named. Lezginka, the Merited State Dance Company of Daghestan, was founded in 1958.

For more than 20 years organiser and leader was People's Artist of the USSR Tankho Israilov. This is what Rasul Gamzatov, People's Poet of Daghestan, wrote about the emergence of the Lezginka Ensemble: "With the birth of the Lezginka Ensemble each of us experienced a feeling that comes with the birth of a long expected child. And a healthy, handsome and talented child it was. Its first performance brought tears of joy to our eyes. As one watches a Lezginka concert one cannot help repeating the words of our mountain folk: "Indeed, even the dead can be revived by this dances..."

The Lezginka Ensemble offers an extensive programme of fiery, temperamental dances of the numerous peoples inhabiting this Mountain Country.

All its choreographic and musical works convey the might and noble endeavors of the Daghestan peoples that are treading the highroad of national development in the multinational family of Caucasian peoples. The visitor of the concert will see a picturesque carnival of sparkling national costumes and hear the magic sounds of unique national instruments: zurna, agach-kumuz, tara, kemancha.

The mountain folk say that the people's soul lies in its music, songs and dances. This can be confirmed by anyone who has been to the Lezginka concert. Its dances express boundless love for one's native land, its heroic past and wonderful present, they reflect the power of human love, the people's heroic struggle for their happiness and pride for their country.

The programme comprises of traditional dances and their modern arrangement. The concert is organised with great artistic taste and offers a broad variety of dances. The stage interpretation of traditional folklore motives, the artists' high performing mastery and emotional pitch, along with the novelty of the subjects of the dances, leave an indelible impression.

The dances of the Lezginka Ensemble acquaint audiences with the customs of the Daghestan people, its courage and noble-mindedness, proud and staunch nature and unique national character. Each concert programme presents a wealth of choreographic compositions imbued with an original national colour: "Welcoming Lezginka", the dances "Maskha", "Ailonai", "Antsukh", "At the Spring", the comic miniatures "Holiday in Mountain Village", the maidens' lyrical dance "Gaftar", to name only a few.

Each concert is a festival of dance, elegance and beauty. The Lezginka Ensemble with its art director and choreographer Iosif Mataev, People's Artist and winner of G.Tsadasa State Prize of Daghestan, have created a programme that brings forth the people's culture, traditions and high performing mastership in all their brilliance. The repertoire always involves the careful studying of unique national traditions and folklore.

The Lezginka Ensemble has performed with invariable success in all over the Soviet Union, Germany, Poland, Czeck Republic, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, France, Great Britain, Turkey, Belgium, Holland, Italy, Taiwan, Spain and USA.

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