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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

In Context: Qyrq Qyz (Forty Girls)

Qyrq Qyz (Forty Girls), a multimedia retelling of a ancient Central Asian epic, comes to the BAM Harvey Theater for two nights. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles and videos. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #QyrqQyz and @BAM_Brooklyn.

Program Notes

Ancient Girl Power Revisited (BAM blog)
“[W]e live in a time when women are finding new forms of emancipation,” and Uzbek filmmaker Saodat Ismailova hopes Qyrq Qyz will be “one of the projects that illuminates and contributes to expanding the boundaries of female expression.”

Mighty Women Warriors, Resurrected From an Ancient Epic (The New York Times)
"The story dates back more than 2,000 years but has a strikingly contemporary theme: how a band of female warriors in the deserts of Central Asia had—long before #metoo became a rallying cry in the West—resisted aggression by the men who wanted to conquer them."

The Real Amazon Warriors (The New Yorker)
Greek Amazons were elaborately tattooed, invented trousers, and smoked cannabis.

Aga Khan Music Initiative (Aga Khan Development Network)
This interregional program supports the work of musicians and music educators to preserve, transmit, and develop their musical heritage in contemporary forms.


Qyrq Qyz Artist Talk (YouTube)
Saodat Ismailova speaks with Dartmouth music professor Ted Levin about Qyrq Qyz and her epic journey to bring the Central Asian steppes to the screen and stage.

40 Days of Silence (YouTube)
Trailer for director Ismailova's debut feature film.

Now your turn...

How did you enjoy the show? Likes? Dislikes? Surprises? Tell us what's on your mind in the comments below and on social media using #QyrqQyz and @BAM_Brooklyn.


  1. We were mesmerized by the haunting music, songs and beauty of this production. We were transported to another era, and another world. We loved it...!!

  2. All the right ingredients were there - great music and musicians, compelling and timely story, multimedia approach, but in the end it did not cohere - the lack of supertitles for text was the most glaring omission making it impossible to follow the story and the video was cliche-riddled (a snake writhing around a prone woman? -come on!) and unhelpful to the narrative. There was a great deal of stacking and unstacking of mattresses - not sure what that was meant to signify. If this was an epic about a group of women warriors repelling an assault and dying in the process, it was surely not in the video, which seems to have been divided into four parts about earth, water, air and fire??? The music was also quite static for long stretches, not seeming to reflect the events that were allegedly being depicted. The singing, when present was excellent throughout, but without text was difficult to relate to. A little interstitial text that was shown was terribly sized and timed, making it near-impossible to read and not relating to the larger narrative either. This work has enormous potential but needs editing.

  3. The sound and video were beautiful. The instrumental and vocal music and performance were absorbing, moving. A great experience.

  4. The performance was spectacular - beautiful music and captivating videos and images. I'm so intrigued to learn more of the epic and the country.

    However, I am disappointed that BAM allowed people into the theatre more than 15 minutes after the performance started, kept opening the exit door and allowing light in, and staff whispering among themselves in the back, all which detracted from the otherwise enjoyable experience.


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