Review: Mother Doe (Ismailova Theatre of Dance)

Dance show based on Central Asian folktale charms audiences

Photo of Mother Doe PosterIf you’re struggling to find some free fun for the whole family, then I’ve got the show for you! Mother Doe by Ismailova Theatre of Dance at Lee Lifeson Art Park is a beautiful dance fairy tale sure to get kids and adults alike dancing.

Based on the adaptation of a Kyrgyzstan and Central Asian folk tale by Chingiz Aitmatov, Mother Doe follows a doe (Jasmine Huang) who adopts a human orphan (Atiya Csak). Together they take a harrowing journey to the promised land of crystal mountain lake, Issyk-Kul.

The whole event is hosted by the Ismailova school, who lead pre- and post-show miniature dance lessons (to the enjoyment of the audience). I saw young and old on their feet, dancing along, as instructors took them through small routines.

By the time you get to the show itself, everyone is ready to sit back, relax and get carried away.

With simple costumes, a few props, and a lot of energy the fairy tale takes flight. Trees, rocks, water, and fire come to life through fun, character-driven dances: rocks stomp and roll, while trees turn at sharp angles, fire stutters with red silk, water flows.

At the heart, of course, are Csak and Huang, who prance and skip across the stage, and into hearts. They’re very sweet together. I loved watching them dance.

In fact, the whole event was a pleasure.  This is one of those family shows you get to just take in. There are battles, tragic losses, and a happy ending.

What really stood out to me was how simple it was. Watching the way they depicted elements in the wild, it invites a lot of imagination. I just thought it evoked that fantastical world that these types of stories inhabit, without losing its audience in allegory.

Mother Doe is exactly the type of show you can easily relax and enjoy with family, with strangers, or by yourself.


  • Mother Doe┬áplays until September 15th at Lee Lifeson Park (45 Princess Park)
  • Show runs Sunday September 15th at 12:00 pm and at 4:00 pm
  • Event is free

Photo of Mother Doe courtesy Ismailova Theatre of Dance