Friday, June 24, 2011

Kazakhstan's Arts and Entertainment Industry

Privyet all!

During the week, I am swamped with schoolwork. I have three hours of one-on-one class every day for five days a week. Class consists of drills of everything from grammar rules, to vocabulary (words, numbers, days of the week, etc.) to dialogues. No slacking with Raushan (my professor). By the time the weekend comes around (i.e. Thursday night...even though there is class on Friday), I am ready for a break! Thursday and Friday were quite exciting, as I gained unique insights into Kazakhstan's artistic community.

Thursday, I went to a local bar/restaurant, MarroneRosso, for some chai lattes and great conversation with my Kazakh friends Karima and her brother Murat. Karima and Murat are both in the Kazakh circus, Muturganchiki, and are so much fun and incredibly kind people. They are the embodiment of Kazakh hospitality. I met several of their friends in the Kazakh entertainment industry, including a Kazakh actor, Anwar, and a journalist. Anwar was particularly interesting to talk to, as he spoke fluent english (I always try to practice my Russian when I meet people, but for some words it helps if the other person knows English). Anwar proclaimed that he is "extremely patriotic" and loves to welcome foreigners to Kazakhstan and teach them about Kazakh culture. He is starting a band with his friends and expressed his desire in competing in a European band competition. Until recently, Kazakhstan's geographical location precluded its participation in European tournaments. Anwar noted that Kazakhstan did compete in a recent European football tournament so he hopes to raise the funds to participate in a music competition. He recognized that he could represent an Eastern European country, as the rules do not require team members to be national citizens of the country they represent, but he wanted to represent Kazakhstan. "It means something to me to represent my country, Kazakhstan."

Friday, I went to the Katseev Museum and had coffee with Amir Jadaibayev of the Kasteev Museum. Thank you to Adam Grode for introducing me to Amir, as we had a fascinating conversation about Kazakhstan's art and museum industry. Amir noted the need to use the Internet to promulgate knowledge about Kazakhstan's art and culture. He would love to see more small and local museums throughout the country. As with many public art institutions around the world, funding is always an issue. Currently, the museum is physically capable of displaying some 10% of the total collection (I confess that I was not able to explore the museum because it is under construction and is not currently open to visitors). I understand Amir's intention to increase Kazakh cultural literacy around the world. In fact, one of the reasons I launched The Sholk Road Adventures was to make Central Asian culture and politics more accessible to my friends and family.  I wish all the best for Amir, the Katseev museum and Kazakhstan's art industry!

I will be going to the Central State Museum on Saturday and Koktobe, a park in the Tien Shen mountains. I've been told that the best view of Almaty is from the top of Koktobe -- can't wait!

Thanks everyone for reading! Stay posted for more of The Sholk Road Adventures!


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