Jo Hadley has been dancing all her life. Beginning with ballet at an early age, she went on to explore Modern Dance as a teenager, and choreographed musicals for her High School in Maryland. She was a member of the Modern Dance Company at her 2nd college, where she also did some choreography. During her final year of college, and for many years after she graduated, Jo shifted her interest to American, English, and Scottish folk dance.
When Jo moved to Kentucky in 1988, she discovered the beautiful, feminine, joyous art of Middle Eastern Dance. The dance piqued her interest in the Near and Middle East, and she became an avid student of the histories, art forms, and cultures of the various regions.
In 1997, she was introduced to Persian dance by Laurel Victoria Gray. Jo immediately fell in love with this exquisite art form, and was determined to pursue it on a serious level. This passion led to even more cultures for Jo to study. She has also been influenced by other renowned experts in the dance such as Robyn Friend, Anthony Shay, Helene Eriksen, and Hannah Romanowsky.
The following year, in 1998, Jo was introduced to Central Asian dance when Ms Gray and Travis Fontaine Jarrell (both of whom have lived & studied dance in Uzbekistan) worked together to create Central Asian Dance Camp, and to bring the famous Uzbek dancer and “People’s Artist of Uzbekistan,” Qizlarhon Dusmukhamedova, to the United States for the first time ever to introduce American dancers to the complex, rigorous, and beautiful dances of Central Asia. Jo fell in love, yet again, and added more cultures to her research list. She continues to study with Qizlarhon, who only comes to the United States once a year to teach at Central Asian Dance Camp. Through Qizlarhon, Jo has a direct, prestigious lineage to one of the most famous dance families in Uzbekistan, the Akilov family. Many of the Central Asian dances in Jo’s extensive repertoire were choreographed by Isakar Akilov, the patriarch and dance master of the famous family, his wife, Marguerite, and their daughters, Lola, Vika, and Zuleikha. Jo has also studied Central Asian dance with People’s Artist of Uzbekistan, Qadir Muminov, and with Olimjon Beknazarov, Sitora Khatamova, and Helene Eriksen. The styles that Jo has studied with these extraordinary dancers and teachers are Turkmen, Afghan, Tajik, Uighur, and Uzbek (from the regions of the Fergana Valley, Khorezm, Bukhara, Andijon, and Surhan Darya).
Travis Jarrell, who co-sponsored Qizlarhon’s first few annual visits to the United States, continues to be Jo’s main teacher for Bukharan dance and music in the style of the Sozandas, who are the professional female wedding singers and dancers of Bukhara. Through Ms. Jarrell, Jo traces her 2 distinct and prestigious lineages back to 2 of the most famous Bukharan Sozandas of our time: Oliahon Hasanova of the Mohy-Sitora Folkloric Ensemble, and the incomparable Tufaxon Pinkhasova, who founded the famous ensemble Nozanin.
In 1990, Jo founded the Crescent Moon Dance Company, whose motto is “Education through Entertainment,” to promote and celebrate the many rich, diverse, and ancient cultures of the Middle East and Central Asia through their dances. The Company’s repertoire includes folk and classical dances from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and East Turkistan. Jo Hadley and the Crescent Moon Dancers are based in Louisville, Kentucky.