Testimonials

 

Banafsheh is one of the greatest sacred dancers I have seen.

Renowned Indian-American Author and Physician
www.deepakchopra.com

Deepak Chopra


I had the pleasure of attending Banafsheh's a performance at Kripalu Center in MA. In watching her dance, I knew I was witnessing a master performer in action. Banafsheh is the quintessential professional in her field not only as a dancer but as an artistic interpreter of Rumi and in explaining the brilliance of that renowned Sufi mystic.

Renowned Author and Teacher
www.myss.com

Caroline Myss


Banafsheh uses dance as a holy ritual. Her dancing is more than a feast for the eyes, it's a joy to the spirit and an opening of the heart.

Renowned Author and Teacher
www.marianne.com

Marianne Williamson


Banafsheh is not only one of the greatest and inspired dancers in the world - and this is an opinion shared by many connoisseurs of dance - but she is also a wonderful teacher very precise and humble and grounded in the way she embraces all of her pupils and releases their deepest possibilities. I have had the honor of teaching with her a course that linked her form of dance with Rumi's way of divine love both in America and Canada on several occasions and so know the power of her teaching first hand and consider her my teacher of Sacred Dance as well as someone of the deepest integrity. Working with Banafsheh on the film In the Fire of Grace has been one of the most inspiring experiences of my life, both an initiation and a revelation. It is very rare to find an artist of such grandeur who also has the selflessness to teach with great patience and compassion.

Author, Mystic and Teacher
www.andrewharvey.net

Andrew Harvey


Banafsheh is magnificent!

New York Times Bestselling Author

Gabrielle Bernstein


Banafsheh is the ultimate artist, the one who says yes to creating her own way and sees too the value of establishing true technique to support that way. It is a privilege to watch her beautiful dance. Watching her move is to watch an ecstatic. What is so extraordinary about ‘Banafsheh Dance’? Her hands are so graceful and beautiful to watch. Her body merges with the music and with spirit and she moves with a divine integrity. She is like water: flowing and strong. I cannot get the images of her turning out of my mind's eye. Banafsheh is really extraordinary, her whole being becomes transformed into fluid strengths and poetry. Congratulations to her for achieving such a high level of mastery.

Legendary flamenco Dancer, Choreographer & Banafsheh's beloved flamenco Teacher

Antonia Kabakov


Banafsheh, the number of people you have healed must be in many 1000s. Your prescriptions and treatments do not have adverse side effects. They are "Controlled Time Release" fixing, the body, mind, soul, the conscious, and subconscious aspects of people with therapeutic benefits radiating to their friends and family.

Dr. Mohammad Navab, Professor, UCLA Cardiology


Master of Mystical Persian Dance, when Banafsheh teaches or performs, she moves with an attitude of liquid gold pouring over silk velvet. Banafsheh embodies what it means to dance with abandon, and to live the ecstatic poetry of Rumi as luminous moonlight on radiant silver clouds. Watching her dance is to glimpse something both otherworldly as well as fully grounded in the momentous meaning of the present.

Editor in Chief, LA Yoga

Felicia Tomasko


Banafsheh's Dance of Oneness series is a powerful immersion into the center of our spiritual being. Through her chosen avenue within the medium of dance, she draws on her spiritual cultural forms, bringing together levels of earth and heaven within herself as a pure and fluid vehicle, expanding possibilities through Presence and embodied Awareness. From the form of her personal inheritance of Persian dance as well as other traditional dances like flamenco, she opens inner space, becoming a Container of Love in a new and evolving expansion of boundaries and awareness, evident in her powerful movements and her soft surrendered curves.

In these days when our spiritual traditions are hitting up against globalism, everything is in question and change. Banfsheh's dance embodies this new awareness and supports its growth. Audience and students alike receive her vibrations, passing on a new torch of fire and light through resonances deeply felt in our hearts through her pure aesthetics. Her total mind-body Awareness, the opening of energy fields, is an absolute prerequisite to sustain the "turn" of the Whirling Dance, connected to particular energy fields moving in unity without ourselves when the dance becomes Worship. What she brings supports our connection the the Divine Oneness as well as our Humanity, allowing us to serve as a bridge between divine energies and the world in a most natural and beautiful way.

Amy Barker-Wilson, visual artist, spiritual dance practitioner, Mevlevi Samazan
www.amberblue.org

Amy Barker-Wilson


I've taken numerous dance, spirituality and wellbeing workshops and classes in LA, the Bay Area and in Europe and Banafsheh's coaching style is totally unique. She has a way of teaching joy. It was beautiful to dance with her and learn how to access an organic femininity within my movement, centered and natural. It brought out the best of me in my dance both as a child and a woman.

Julia Richardson

workshop participant, Franklin Canyon Park, LA 2016


Banafsheh creates an experience of ecstatic love that is at once transformational and also fully, viscerally, alive in the moment. Her great gift is to make you feel as beautiful as she is, and experience yourself as living love. What joy to be so free in your body and awake in your heart!

Jennifer Haydu, Owner, EVOLUTION Transformative Arts

workshop participant, Esalen Institute, CA 2015


The container that Banafsheh created was so nourishing and safe. Her presence led me deeper and deeper within to a precious wellspring of energy. Her guidance helped me still my mind and come into direct contact with the essential seed of my energy. And as I stayed there - I felt that I had more and more access to this vital energy. It was beautiful to then move and dance from this place of rested/centered vitality. I am inspired because I see Banafsheh walk all the time in the world with connection to this direct inner wellspring.
The wisdom of Persian language Banafsheh shared helped me understand the depth of the energy we tap into as women and as whirlers and the way she formulated it made it accessible while holding the sacred/ceremonial aspect of the tradition intact.
Cat Wilson

workshop participant, Hollyhock Center, BC Canada 2015


I found a new place in me.

Marie-Anne Scherren

workshop participant, Cologne, Germany 2015


A profound experience of waking the energies in my body and feeling them flow in my Center. The guidance was essential in bringing the mind into the awareness of the body. Banafsheh is a beautiful soul with an amazing power to hold a vibration which we can use as a path to find our own power and vibration.

Marianne Onkelinx

workshop participant, Cologne, Germany 2015


To live your work
to live your belief
to live who you are
is your shining Essence

To be the lover
and the beloved
that is my deepest longing
my sincere search

What a glorious combination Banafsheh has brought to my heart. Amazingly, my body is fulfilled and not sore!

Isabella Ginsberg

workshop participant, Cologne, Germany 2015


After the workshop I felt very peaceful. To see Banafsheh working with the group with her presence and wonderful way was amazing. I feel sooo alive and filled with love and light!

Carmen Klein

workshop participant, Cologne, Germany 2015


I’m really glad about the beautiful, gorgeous views of my body that I received in this workshop; a lot of them are so simple to feel and have such a deep meaning of being alive in this mystical world. It really helped me to open up more and gain more sense. I have a deeper understanding about the yin and the yang now: I understand that my yang is only true and big when it can rest on the truth and wise roots of my yin.

Roman Gabriel

workshop participant, Cologne, Germany 2015


I find it absolutely inspiring to be in the presence of a fully embodied Persian women like Banafsheh. In her presence, a big part of me feels at home and in belonging.

Schirin Diba

workshop participant, Cologne, Germany 2015


It is always a profound divine experience to dance with Banafsheh. I feel spaciousness in my heart and in my body and mind. I have a deeper sense of aliveness, quietness and the eternal beauty, grace and compassion/mercy of the Beloved. I feel that my knowingness of the Beloved has dropped into my heart and fills my body. Thank you with all of my divine heart. I most of all LOVE the reverence and passion of Banafsheh’s work that seem to be the pillars holding the space for REAL transformation within me.

Caroline Coyle

workshop participant, Menla Center, NY 2015


I’m deeply grateful for Banafsheh’s wisdom and sharing about embodiment, grounding, connecting to Mother Earth and the beautiful expression of the Divine in human form in the dance.

Deborah Craig

workshop participant, Menla Center, NY 2015


I couldn’t be happier with the workshop. I love the physical, spiritual, emotional aspects and benefits it evokes. I love Banafsheh’s kind guidance. I am not a dancer, not a choreographer and feel welcome among these amazing dancers and feel my own creativity and sense of self bursting out of me! Thank you 1000x.

Dina Hamdy

workshop participant, Menla Center, NY 2015


Banafsheh is a generous, crystal clear and loving teacher.

Alexandra May

workshop participant, Menla Center, NY 2015


It felt like our group was handpicked by God. What a blessing to share this dance with such openhearted, loving women. The teaching was very kind, meaning it felt as if the teacher was there to guide each person into their own rhythm as opposed to setting boundaries of right/wrong. Banafsheh is a special Sufi sister! Her dance is a connection between spirit-soul-body. It should be part of every spiritual practice.

Maria Ramos

workshop participant, Menla Center, NY 2014


When I saw Banafsheh dance I could see it's not just a dance, it's a download. This workshop helped me get in touch with my body and love it just as much as I love my mind. Banafsheh's work is so important to me - it helps me be in my body in this world right now, but also reaching up, drawing down divinity to the present. 

MaryJoe Walikainen

workshop participant, Menla Center, NY 2014


The workshop was extremely meaningful to me on so many levels. The connection of love through devotional movement brought my body and soul into alignment. Banafsheh is a magical teacher and practitioner. I would and will recommend this workshop whenever I can. My fellow workshop participants were warm and freely gave me their wisdom and love. 

Joan Pelletier

workshop participant, Menla Center, NY 2014


Banafsheh’s program is extraordinary - a complete arrangement of dance, music, meditation, focus, discipline and life experience. I didn’t experience any holiness in the location, I felt the holiness in Banafsheh’s art and that is what I truly revere and bow down before. I had no preconceived notions prior to attending. The eight days went by without a single moment of tiredness or boredom. I was concerned that I would not be able to keep up or that I may injure myself, but exactly the opposite happened. I felt an amazing level of energy, without pain anywhere and completely relaxed. I will always guard this gift carefully in my heart.

Farzaneh Aryaee

workshop participant, Yalova, Turkey 2015


"I have never felt so held, so encouraged to explore my inner-most being. The gifts that I leave here with are impossible to enumerate. Banafsheh is a gift, a rare jewel who inspires and empowers all who come into contact with her. I am eternally grateful."

 

Angel Caban workshop participant, Turkey


It was a very gentle teaching...to come in my centre and to move from there; to feel dignity and express it. I also experienced how there is no separation between heaven and earth and felt I can be the bridge. It was a very practical teaching and I can use it in my everyday life to be aware of the sacred feminine and express it. I could feel the teaching comes from Banafsheh’s heart and it was full of love...and inner wisdom.

Monika Klinger

workshop participant, House of Peace, Vienna, Austria 2015


A marvelous workshop which I enjoyed very much. It has been a long time since I have obtained such a well-founded dance training, and I appreciate very much that Banafsheh also let us improvise. After slow and in-depth warmup which gave my a safe grounding, even a long whirling was possible for me without getting dizzy or feeling sick – I even experienced power, beauty and richness while whirling.

Aurelia Kalb-Albrecht

workshop participant, House of Peace, Vienna, Austria 2015


A heavenly journey through my body and all that is. Many new experiences flew through my body/mind and soul. With ineffable love and passion for her calling, Banafsheh is guiding through deep aspects of dancing and Sufism. Her gift of transmitting the essential vividness of the heart is deeply touching. Thus, I am deeply touched, in-spired, enchanted and simply delighted by this workshop.
Banafsheh is the love that dances.
Today I whirled like a darvish, I was whirled, It whirled me, I was myself, a tree, Love, Earth, the Universe – all at once. Words are to limited to describe it.
Karin Zettl

workshop participant, Yaa Wali, Munich, Germany 2015


Never in my life before I saw someone dancing so beautifully and intensely as Banafsheh. My experience in this workshop fills me with rich, beautiful spirit. I feel much more connected to myself, my body as well as to the community of women.

Barbara Decker, Singer

workshop participant, Frankfurt, Germany 2015


All the time I thought ‘is she real?’ I’ve never met anyone like Banafsheh. When I listen to her with my eyes closed, I feel I am listening to a very old wise woman and then I open my eyes to find a ravishing young beauty!


Maarifa Tina Sakos, Estonia/UK

workshop participant, Yalova, Turkey 2015


The fascinating dance and sounds of Persia transformed the concert hall to a landscape for the senses. Dancer and choreographer, Banafsheh translated the musical intensity and intricate nuances of ZARBANG with the language of her body. Her fluid movements were constantly dynamic, at times floating, then whirling at high speed, opening our vision to new dimensions. With complete mastery of her body, she exuded power down to the tips of her fingers.

Hans-Jugen Truol
Badische Zeitung, Germany

Badische Zeitung, Germany


Banafsheh presented a decidedly contemporary innovation to Persian dance, flamenco, trance states, and improvisation. In 'Axis of Love', she took the audience on a simple journey of ascension as she slowly raised her arms, all the while spinning. It could be said it was like the earth spinning; or, like a flower opening up to reach the sky's rays. As the program states, it was "...a structured improvisation exploring the familiar within the infinite.

Monique Molino
Voice of Dance

Monique Molino


Divine, transformative, beyond my wildest imaginings.

Caroline Coyle

workshop participant, Esalen Institute 2016


This is more than a dance workshop. It is the true meaning of Dance. Banafsheh's workshop is experiential - experiencing the states of beings I had only read about! The space she creates and the gentle initiation she offers allowed me to gracefully slip into a new state within myself. I have experienced many of her workshops - but every time it is a new experience. I feel alive! Every cell of my body feels alive! I have had bodily injuries that have been healed throughout the years with her practices. Experiencing embodiment of Love that is the invitation in this workshop is so deeply needed in the world today - it is the gift of this workshop. The presence of Rumi is felt throughout the whole workshop.

Maryam Nassirbegli

workshop participant, Esalen Institute, CA 2016


I had a very powerful experience with this workshop. The warming and peaceful aura that Banafsheh glows with is so contagious. The poem by Rumi really resonated with me, as did the whirling. It truly is a moving meditation. I have not stopped whirling since!

Andrew Connolly

workshop participant, Menla Center, NY 2015


In this workshop as was my experience with the last one, I feel a deep deep connection to the divine within and without. In everyday life no matter how hard we try we often lose that connection. In working with Banafsheh you feel that deep immersion, like you dipped into the most beautiful healing waters. That's when you feel "you have arrived." Furthermore at this workshop, I got to be more in touch with my own and the universal feminine divine. And yes I felt the powerhouse/womb/rahem...Banafsheh and her work brilliantly embody that.

Helen Betgivargis

workshop participant, Menla Center, NY 2015


I love Banafsheh’s passion/fire, direct and loving feisty nature that says a big loud and clear "yes" to life..is not ashamed of being Great and clear and direct with the expression of joy. It inspires and encourages us all to tap into that energy. Empowered..strong and soft (empowered as the true feminine force) is such a valuable quality that she has and shares so gracefully. Dance of Oneness has helped my yoga practice; opened up my listening - to what I really need inside and has helped me trust a gentle wisdom in me - that if I trust it, a strong energy rises effortlessly...

worCat Wilson

workshop participant, Hollyhock Center, Canada, BC 2015


Dance of Oneness is a deep food for the soul.

Veronique Boissin

workshop participant, Cologne, Germany 2015


With her magic wand, Banafsheh taps each of us and gives us the sparkle of aliveness that makes us feel our unique special gift.


Irina Azarova, Nurse

workshop participant, Yalova, Turkey 2015


Banafsheh's presence is one of the purest respecting of the rapturous reunion I have ever seen. She is the 5th element!


Martina Kant

workshop participant, Cologne, Germany 2015


My search, my quest for spirituality in dance was so intense that when I came to Banafsheh's workshop in LA in 2007 for the first time, I have stayed with her since then. Her teachings, her movements and philosophy of Oneness have become my blood, bones, my essence. She embodies everything that I receive in her teachings. My life has become more meaningful through Rumi’s teachings and sacred movements, which I experience in her workshops. They are like a divine source - always accessible, always with me. Her beautiful work has embraced many countries and people from all parts of the world, and I believe it’s going to be many more to join us so we all become ONE...
I feel so blessed to receive his teaching through this portal – how would I access this greatness if not through Banafsheh, our Dancer of Oneness?!


Irina Azarova, Nurse

Student of Dance of Oneness since 2007


I am deeply grateful to Banafsheh for creating Dance of Oneness. When Banafsheh teaches, she weds Rumi's ecstatic poetry to dance and gives her students the opportunity to experience and embody sacred, mystic teachings through accessible movement. Practicing Dance of Oneness has led me to discover the lover and the beloved, both in me. Banafsheh's teachings are truly transformational when taken to heart. While sharing Dance of Oneness, Banafsheh channels divine beauty and clarity, and her presence in my life has unquestionably helped me heal and grow. Dance of Oneness has inspired me to serve life with love.

Maura Tousignant

Student of Dance of Oneness since 2009


Banafsheh is an extraordinary dancer and teacher.

Nancy Moore, Writer

workshop participant, Esalen Institute, CA 2015


It was a very deep diving into kindness and softness with yourself and others. Heart-opening, respect of the body and grounding in the Spirit. It was a very beautiful way to nourish the soul and the body.

Natasha Yargomskaya

workshop participant, Esalen Institute, CA 2015


Therapeutic, but much more FUN than therapy!


Dina Hamdy

workshop participant, Integral Yoga, NYC 2015


The most fabulous 5 days. This workshop is really wonderful. Banafsheh commands a group with such beauty and grace. She is connected, powerful, inspiring…yet approachable and so genuinely compassionate. I love her! This dance is what anyone chooses to make it - nice balance of learning and just being. Tony Khalife is a genius. He offers his everything and touches even the most guarded soul. A real gift!

Susan Oshinsky

workshop participant, Esalen Institute, CA 2015


This is my language! An incredible technique for getting grounded and centered - the things dance teachers talk about ALL THE TIME but somehow remain elusive. THIS TECHNIQUE REALLY WORKS! And not just on the physical level, but on the creative and spiritual levels as well - all INTEGRATED. I learned and re-learned many things about my body and my dancing. I also found that blessed ECSTASY we hope for when we dance. An unforgettable workshop - LOVE!

Danielle Hartman

workshop participant, L'Atelier, NYC 2015


Wonderful! I love the Dance of Oneness Workshops! Banafsheh is simply AMAZING! She embodies noble qualities such as kindness, wisdom and grace. She is also a leader in the fields of the arts, dance, Sufism and other Mystical traditions, and integrates them all. She is on the leading edge of the current movement of awakened consciousness and oneness of humanity. We need more teachers like her.

Leila Meshkat, Physicist, NASA

workshop participant, Esalen Institute, CA 2015


Banafsheh pulls the sacred back into the world but never preaches at us.
She turns women into Goddesses and men into Gods - everyone who works with her regains a robust confidence in themselves.

Eleanor Ambos, Interior Designer, CEO, Metropolitan Building

workshop participant, Omega Institute, NY 2015


The NYC Liquid Grace weekend was a doorway.  I had a lot of reluctance in regards to attending. There is much that comes with inhabiting a mid 50's body or should I say not inhabiting a mid 50's body. The disconnection, the lost parts, the feeling of heaviness, the image distortion. I did not want to enter a workshop and be asked to move what didn't want to move or worse, be in a room full of dancers. And then a voice came to me, "If you can't go for yourself, go for all the other women who feel just like you. Go for all who feel that their femininity, sensuality, beauty is something of the past. Go for them". And so I did.

Banafsheh, does not teach, she invites. She does not lecture, she forms words of remembrance that echo ancient truths. Starting with the most vulnerable and tender of areas - the womb, asking us to soften. What else does she say that leads to the body trusting and dancing itself? What clears to allow for the presence of the Beloved to be felt?

I remember turning. Not like the turns that have captivated me, but my turn. My tentative yet steadfast, surprisingly anchored turn. I don't know where the anchoring came from.  Perhaps when she described forming a cup with our raised right hand in the shape of a chalice, receiving the light, the blessings and then offering it back to the earth with our left hand facing down. In the end there was an experience of union of body and soul and the felt axis of the heavens piercing through the heart and reaching the ground.  The very cells of the body awoke from deep sleep to participate in the celebration of love.

Zakia Vailakis, Minister

workshop participant, L'Atelier NYC 2015


Banafsheh is helping me remember what I’ve forgotten and reminding me to embrace all of myself and come home to myself. A revolution of sacred purple spirals of love bring change if we allow ourselves to let go and BE the sharing, shining, showering of true love of Spirit here amongst Earth’s humanity. She has arrived...the Sacred Purple Light.


Kathryn Fleming

workshop participant, L'Atelier, NYC 2015


"As an embodied mystic of the divine feminine, Banafsheh’s presentations are not performances but transmissions which transform your vision of dance forever. Dancer and dance become one initiatory flame of grace."

Andrew Harvey


In my experience, it appears as if Dancing with the Divine was a workshop designed just for me.  In actuality this workshop resonated with, and positively affected, my entire being.  My spiritual, emotional, mental and physical bodies were all attended to during my time of dancing with Banafsheh.

Banafsheh created a safe, sacred space for me to let go of some of the pain that I have carried.  And, better yet ---I know this dance can be a profound tool for me, continually. I felt it to be akin to Qi Gong --like an organic, moving meditation.  A gentle call for me to pay attention to where, in my physical body, I feel locked up or stagnate.

Through mindful, circular movements, Banafsheh guided me to regain the fluidity of my spine, and from there-- a new love language was brought forth from within me. A love language of movement!  I am now aware of the entire world as my canvas.  I can dance-up the spaces around me with sacred, circular geometric designs... and the whole while--feeling wild love--create sacred spaces for any unnecessary pain to be fully recognized and released, allowing my true feelings of love for life to ring out.

I feel as if this dance was a piece of my life's puzzle, as it has helped me to remember that I want to actively Be Here.  I don't want to be here to carry pain, fear, anxiety and to be confused!  I want to be here for Love!  I will dance this sacred, spiral dance and pray for the whole world to join in.  Thank you to Banafsheh, and her lovely assistant Roja, for providing a nourishing and nurturing place of profound healing and growth.  I have experienced an internal Revolution and I can dance freely once again. I think of Banafsheh every day... And, it brings me great joy to know she is somewhere out there in the world dancing her dance!  Thank you for sharing this great love.

Kathryn Fleming

workshop participant, Omega Institute, 2014


To Banafsheh,
I love how the sacred pulse of The Dance is so alive in you.
I love how the small child Banafsheh so courageously refused to betray the gift of The Dance
I love how you awaken The Dance in others.
I love how your spirit dances your body so passionately and gracefully and wildly as a sacred rebellion against control and oppression.
I love how you inspire and encourage the freedom of the body's movement in the name of a greater and eternal freedom.
I love how the great river of sacred wisdom and depth and compassion and love flows so un-apologetically through you.
I love how I have not stopped nurturing and unleashing my body's movement since you left Charlotte.
I love how I now think daily about my posture - shifting to neutral pelvis, standing with soft knees and feet firmly planted, shoulders back, head held regally high - all because I believed you when you said you would be watching me.
I love how I smile when I think of you bringing the sacred gift of your movement and teaching to people in all corners of our wounded and glorious world.

Barry Sherman

workshop participant, Charlotte, NC, 2010


The Spiral of Love in Turkey was a masterpiece! Banafsheh created a genuine program where all the ingredients - music, poetry, movement, dance, meditation, sharing, chanting, whirling - everything served the purpose of unveiling the true self in each of us. I feel that every day of the workshop peeled off the layers of the “dead skin” of my body and in return brought an increasing sense of becoming just a “normal” human being with boundless flow of love and energy through this beautiful hollow reed flute within me, this channel of light and majestic wisdom and God’s love. Thank you to Banafsheh for being my guide on this lifetime journey of LOVE in Turkey. I can’t imagine any better gift I could have ever given to myself.

Irina Azarova

workshop participant, Yalova, Turkey 2010


In honor of the dance of Banafsheh’s spirit

I have to believe in my spirit. I have to guard its stride even when it is incomprehensible to the usual and the customary. I have to stand up for the originality that etches my being even when I diverge from old and drawn paths. If I do not defend the tasks bequeathed to my soul, with a courage bordering on foolish valiance, I will be of no real service to anyone. I am the most intimate friend of that which lives in me. How can I know the eternal if I do not inhabit the movement sketched deeply in my oldest memory?

To fight the storms that delineate my inner landscape is an ephemeral drama. I can only submit to these passionate storms. I can only create visions of substance out of the force of their presence. I am the guardian of the passageways to my destiny. The same applies to others. I am the fierce protector of the mystery of their belonging—how inner shorelines and curves and dunes are brought forth to their being through the graceful dance of their spirit. Freedom, like love, is indivisible, and both are sacred, both essential for the inhabitants of heaven and earth.

Chris Saade, Psychological Life-Coach, Co-director of The Olive Branch Center and Director of the Institute for Life-Leadership and Coaching
www.theolivebranchcenter.net
www.theilc.org

Chris Saade


Dancing with Banafsheh: DIVINE MIRROR OF US ALL

Being in the presence of Banafsheh, we feel the essence of love shining out of her, reflecting our own wholeness. We feel her goodness and melt into our own. We become well in spite of any illness. We dissolve into a pool of lovingness. Moving our bodies, we hear Rumi saying: You are designed to hold the cup of divine wine, the cup of love. You hear your own heart saying: melt yourself into the truth of who you are, supreme beauty in the eyes of the Beloved. This melting heals the stiffness, the resistance, the protective shield, the scars that carry wrong voices throughout our lives, belittling who we are meant to be, who we really are.

The meaning of dancing with Banafsheh is to bring us to our true nature. Her dance techniques increase our fluidity, balance, and flexibility. These are beautiful but would be meaningless if not combined with the Spirit she calls forth. We are invited to allow spirit to descend into our hearts, lighting a candle of peace, a dance of love.

This kind of dance is ageless, speaks to souls laden with life’s burdens. The dance calls us to move out of suffering into the light of oneness. Oneness with the great spirit of life that expands and stretches us beyond limited perceptions of ourselves and our worlds. Calls us to break out of our limits, to touch and be touched by the warm heart of the One who beckons us. We are invited to lay down our protests, disappointments, fears, doubts, and worries, and sink into the all encompassing arms of the magnificent Designer who asks us to go beyond, into the Beyond: with our feet rooted in the earth and our heads touching the heavens.
Banafsheh’s gentle guidance, and the soothing music of Tony Khalife creates for us a dance of meaning, as we come to know ourselves united with all of Life, the Beloved in our souls. This is not an ordinary dance class, a class of body posturing or techniques without connection to inner meaning. This dancing reunites us to peace and harmony, lifts us from our attachments to life’s challenges. We receive this peace while deeply walking the earth. With reverence, we make our time on earth, an offering of love.

A class for anyone, of any age, no experience required. To be in the presence of Banafsheh, of Love, is to know we are united to that which we seek, and this is all we ever need. We know this from our heart, not from ideas. The feminine essence blossoming in Banafsheh is transmitted to us, and is the source of a new vision for our planet: ruling with our hearts instead of our heads, with the intention to heal our planet, ourselves, and each other. We are grounded yet ecstatic, flying into the heart of the All. We grow wings. We are set free.

Joan Englander
Author, Teacher, Dancer

workshop participant, Ojai, CA, 2011


Banafsheh's sensational performance New Year's Eve at the Marianne Williamson event was the perfect way to usher in the New Year as she danced us swirling into 2012 with a blazing explosion of energy and beauty....she has amazing talent and created an unforgettable moment for all those in attendance and watching online. She is the epitome of the spectacular lightness of being personified. Simply Stunning. I didn't want it to stop! She created one of my top 10 eternal moments that I'll relive in memory for all time! 

M. Gast

audience member, Marianne Williamson New Year's Event, LA 2011


What a beautiful performance we saw tonight at the Lincoln Center! How wonderful it is to watch Banafsheh dance ... breath-taking! Dance of Oneness is a journey of spiritual awakening.

Mary Lou Grolimond Olson

audience member, Lincoln Center, NYC 2013


Freeing the spirit, freeing the body, freeing the mind All in one!
It is more than Dance, it is a celebration of life - it is life, it is the Self

Maria Khalife
TV Producer, Life-Coach, Teacher, Lebanon/Dubai

workshop participant, Yalova, Turkey 2012


Banafsheh's performance was a discovery of a true art. Beautiful graceful art that she expresses with her body language. When I saw her on stage it was like getting to know a very beautiful art that touches you directly in the heart.

Caroline Coyle, Yoga Teacher and dancer

audience member, Omega Institute, NY 2014


I am so grateful that my Guides recommended I take the Dancing with the Divine workshop at Omega Institute. I felt so deeply Alive, Connected and in my Joy! On the first day I experienced such an exquisite unfolding of interconnection within my Body, there was a return to wholeness, Oneness. I experienced through the dance that there was no separation. I could see more clearly inside that my Body was a vessel of the Divine’s Light and that all was perfectly present. I felt loved, peaceful, connected and joyful. I was smiling ear to ear throughout most of the class! Thank you to Banafsheh for teaching me how to connect more gracefully, lovingly through my feet. I use my fingertips more consciously when I dance to send love out. I learned to be more patient with receiving! I received so much wisdom, guidance and experienced a letting go of what doesn’t serve me. Joy and spontaneous laughter both rippled and roared through me as I spun. I am also grateful for the experience of the flamenco steps. I felt such power being rooted and declaring I am not perfect—I am here in my glory as I did my steps.  Through this beautiful workshop, I’m on a path to deeper transformation, celebration of Joy and Union with the One. With Love and Deep Gratitude, to my Beloved teacher and her masterful teaching. It was truly one of the best workshops I have ever taken in my life!

Deborah Craig, Vibrational Alchemist, Transformation with Sound, NY

workshop participant, Omega Institute, NY 2014


When Banafsheh spoke of the thousands of years of living without the Divine Mother, I had an answer to my burning questions: "Why do we behave the way we do?” and "Why all the suffering and the pain?"  I have been searching for the answer for years through philosophy, psychoanalysis, world religions, Shamanic cultures, mystical traditions, yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong and meditation etc. The answer is clear now.  Even although in the past, I have experienced the Divine through mystical experiences and meditative states, there was always something of the old paradigm of the Divine being masculine underlying my experience. Dancing with the Divine as feminine has uprooted that old paradigm and replaced it with a loving, flowing, supple, gentle yet strong presence of the Divine Mother. I thank Banafsheh with all my heart for her passion filled desire to share her awareness and experience of the Divine Feminine. She embodies and express the Divine Feminine in all that she does.

Caroline Coyle, Yoga Teacher in Toronto, Canada

workshop participant, Omega Institute, NY 2014


Today I asked the Divine to allow me to be able to feel loved. What an extraordinary experience. What alignment of stars so perfect to have led me to the Dance of Oneness. What a blessing. Is this how I am loved by the universe? Whirling, whirling, whirling I am the center of the universe. It turns around me although I am the one moving — I am completely still. I am the axis of the universe. When I come to a stop my mind has this clear awakeness/aliveness I have not experienced before. When I am whirling, the more I can surrender — it is the universe that moves me — it takes over and though I am moving, it is effortless. And I don’t get tired.

A nice Jewish girl—now practicing Buddhism—now spontaneously calling to Allah! All praises to Allah — the words that arise from my heart. In my life I have been blessed with many wonderful teachers and now I count Banafsheh as one of them. What a glorious Being to have brought forth this teaching—with so much LOVE. I am grateful to this body that has brought forth this experience of softening, opening, surrendering to ONENESS.

Jini Tanenhaus, Brooklyn, NY

workshop participant, Omega Institute, NY 2014


A perfect combination of beautiful movement that brought liberation and great music that invites you to dive in into the rhythm. I found the balance I had sought for a long time between physical movement and spiritual guidance of the teacher. I feel true passion and joy from this workshop. Feeling of working hard, gradually warming up a body, and feeling how sequence of body movements, music and atmosphere are all working slowly toward freeing the soul, living with a heart, feeling my true nature. It was amazing! 

Olga Krik, Russia/NY

workshop participant, Omega Institute, NY 2014


It was like a glass of liquid light all week...a perfect combination of movement//dance practice and meditation taught in a way that was accessible to everyone. I feel confident to say that everyone took something significant home from the workshop. Banafsheh is a fantastic teacher and beautiful person. I have been looking for a teacher like her for 20 years.

Sara Kazemi

workshop participant, Omega Institute, NY 2014


In the Dance of Oneness Retreat I learned the difference between listening with my heart and listening with my mind. I learned how to receive love in my heart, how to let myself be the beloved and how to give value to the love within me. Banafsheh spoke directly to my heart. All her words blessed me and taught me how to interact with my family and my kids from my heart.

Natasha Yargomskaya, Russia/CA

workshop participant, Kaua’i 2014


There are some profound personal changes from this work that are obvious now. I feel grounded, calm, self-confident; a deep trust in life and the knowing that I am safe and always have been embraced and guided.

Nurgül Usluoglu, MD Turkey/Switzerland

workshop participant, Kaua’i 2014


Journeying to the Island of Hawaii to attend the Dance of Oneness was food for my soul. I loved the opportunity to explore the energy of my body through dance. Letting the music release my body where it needed to. Learning to walk grounded in my body. And then to experience whirling - wow!!!! It was a special week never to be forgotten. Infinite love and gratitude.

Karin de Vos, Healer, Australia

workshop participant, Kaua’i 2014


Banafsheh breaks our shells, I like to fly on a magic carpet and she creates the greatest magic carpet I have ever been on.

Eleanor Ambos, Free Spirit Entrepreneur, CEO, Metropolitan Building, NY

workshop participant, Omega Institute, NY 2014


Banafsheh, your angelic dance of oneness/selflessness brings tears of joy into my eyes. You become love and light when you move, such a beauty!!!!! 

Farah Esfandiari
Facebook Fan

Farah Esfandiari


It is so wonderful to “play” with Banafsheh. I love the Divine Madness she brings calling forth my passion, joy and oneness to further anchor in my truth.

Sherry Moses, Intuitive, Mystic, Australia

workshop participant, Kaua’i 2014


I just love "In the Fire Of Grace." Banafsheh is an absolutely beautiful, powerful, and amazing dancer!

 

Naimeh Tanha, President, Encinitas Friends of the Arts


Dear Banafsheh, Your Blessings and PEACE and inspiration are still lingering in me from our time at Menla. We all Thank you for bringing Presence into our lives. Many Blessings to you. We are continuing our Dance. I loved the participants and the dancing, but mostly I loved being with Banafsheh and hearing her talk about Rumi and Sufism and love. So different than the many male teachers I have had at Menla. Banafsheh radiates love and opens oneness and the desire for oneness and to live in the world as this oneness with the Beloved as the world.

Gloria Mirsky, NY
Participant, Sufi Dance of Oneness Workshop, Menla Retreat Center, Oct. 2013

Gloria Mirsky


This was my second time attending Banafsheh's workshop and whilst I loved it the first time attending a second time allowed a deepening and more profound experience of the work that we do with her. With repartition of the movements my spiritual engagement with my own body became more solid. Since I left the group I had some personal challenges and yet because of the work we'd done and the awareness she teaches of bringing energy up but then grounding it, every time I felt overwhelmed I knew I had an experienced bodily map that I could use to 'drop' back into myself, which proves very useful when trying to integrate the spiritual self into the daily intricacies that we all face. Banfsheh’s own uniqueness and essential authenticity attracts people of the same quality and both years the group atmosphere has been extremely rich bringing in all kinds of wonderfully gifted people who are all prepared to support each other on the evolutionary journey. The meridian and chakra work that we did this time was enlightening, we were able to discover our physical selves in great depth and it gave us all the tools to strengthen in the areas we felt necessary.

Tamahine Alemdar, Yoga Teacher, Founder, Divine Yoga, Turkey/UK
Participant, The Alchemy of Oneness Workshop, Turkey, 2013

Tamahine Alemdar


I love Banafsheh’s delivery, knowledge and the lovely way she moves. Her teaching is clear.

Teresa D’Angelo, Dancer, Dance Teacher
Participant, Sufi Dance of Oneness Workshop, Menla Retreat Center, Oct. 2013

Teresa D’Angelo


The pacing, warmth and the vibrant joy of the workshop continued throughout. Banafsheh has a comprehensive, gentle way of teaching. Each component serves a greater whole. Connectedness to your fellow students is also naturally encouraged. The technique is taught in a safe, yet powerful method. The entire workshop feels like one big caress. A loving, inspiring teacher who LIVES her practice is rare and beautiful.

Elena Belan, NY
Participant, Sufi Dance of Oneness Workshop, Menla Retreat Center, Oct. 2013

Elena Belan


LOVE! Banafsheh radiates the Sufi love aspect and I felt my heart open just listening to her talk about Sufi work on the first night. It is a rare treat to hear Rumi quoted so eloquently while one is dancing.

Teresa Smith, Dancer and Dance Teacher, NY
Participant, Sufi Dance of Oneness Workshop, Menla Retreat Center, Oct. 2013

Teresa Smith


What a mantra - feet on your ground, centered in your core and living from you open heart AND Relax!! How much better can life get?  Thank you sharing your love, your wisdom, your fire!!!

Gina Hess, Germany/Bay Area
Participant, Dance Your Passion Workshop, Esalen, 2010

Gina Hess


Banafsheh’s dancing and ZARBANG’s music were so integrated, so perfect. Banafsheh conveyed the essence of whirling so beautifully it was breathtaking. But beyond that her dance was a language without words which wove worlds of meaning. Her body is a beautiful instrument, and in connection with the musicians such beautiful "visual music" flowed through, and the patterns of movement set up subtle vibrational harmonies. Due to our "mirror neurons" when we are watching, many people will be experiencing the same internal state and our bodies and minds are being harmonized so that we experience a shared reality beyond words.   This is manifestation of the Beauty, a taste of the divine through all the senses. It was both unearthly magic and a full incarnation of what only human beings can do - to speak of the Beloved in entirely new creative ways in each moment. For me it was truly a spiritual experience provoking a palette of subtle emotions and ultimately deep rest and gratitude for our Beloved working through these human beings. I was so grateful to be there. Sharing this experience, the audience was being united and that feeling held through the intermission and afterwards. The fabrics were amazing, perfectly chosen in Banafsheh’s artistry, as part of the magic. Her bare feet were entrancing, the way they caressed this earth lightly and lovingly yet confidently expressed our capacities to move, to create, to exult in the joy of the precious, fragile process of being alive.........

Jane Garland, PhD, Vancouver
Audience Member, Banafsheh & ZARBANG live in concert in Vancouver, 2009

Jane Garland


Thank you, first of all for who you are and the wonderful gifts you bring to the world. I resonate with the manner in which you do indeed create a sense of oneness, and at the same time a celebration of the individual.

Jennifer Palmer, Dance & Movement Teacher, NY
Participant, Heart Consciousness Workshop, NYC Jan., 2013

Jennifer Palmer


Banafsheh dances like the Queen of a realm unknown to the rest of us...

Kanikey Guvenc, Artist, Turkey
Body of Light Retreat Ceremony, Turkey 2012

Kanikey Guvenc


Banafsheh, thank you for another amazing opportunity to combine the physical and the spiritual. I am truly grateful for your ability to hold the energy and emotion of the class so that we became in a short time a tribe that as one of the women said, “could set off together across the mountains”. “Dance class” does not do justice to the teaching that you offer. When you spoke, it was often so beautiful that I would have to open one eye to see if you were reading. The atmosphere you created was safe and loving despite our various ages and body types. Music, movement and Mevalana (Rumi) were fully integrated. You gently and uncritically put ideas out there as a gift for us to take. The connection between core and voice was particularly helpful to me, as was the connection between beauty and power. I realized how much I downplay beauty because I am afraid of my own power never wanting to be considered beautiful instead of smart. You teach by example more than any teacher I have had. Your own embodied spirit is inspirational.

Rhonda Roselli, Attorney, Boston, MA
Participant, Spiral of Love Retreat, Turkey 2010

Rhonda Roselli


I want to thank you again for the wonderful gift of teaching us in Dubai. It was awesome and life-changing! I have been to many dance workshops in different countries and yours has been the best of all. You are so inspirational and do everything with reverence and devotion. Keep dancing your life away and enjoy every moment being aware that you touch the hearts and souls of the people that get to know you. I hope I can join your workshops in the future.

Erika Lisci
Participant, Dance of Oneness Foundations Workshop, Dubai 2013

Erika Lisci


I carry you in my heart, your work is a source of strength for me and a reminder of who I truly am.

Kim Vetter, Dancer & Choreographer, US
NYC Workshops, 2013

Kim Vetter


It was such a lovely honor that you were there to take part in this event to honor the Mother. We all loved your performance and the dancing of oneness.

Diana Shakti Contreras, Educator & writer, Professor, CSUN
Organizer, Warrior Goddess Diva Event, 2013

Diana Shakti Contreras


Amazing! This workshop was transformative, pushed my edges and capacity and gave a foundation of Spirit IN my body.

Carolyn Hernandez

Participant, Dancing the Divine Feminine Workshop, Esalen, 2013

Carolyn Hernandez


With guidance driven by love, I opened my mind and body in ways I didn’t think possible!

Catherine Thornber
Participant, Dancing the Divine Feminine Workshop, Esalen, 2013

Catherine Thornber


One of the best experiences of my life. Banafsheh is one of the best teachers and human beings I have ever encountered. Her work is of the highest level for healing, transformation, love and awareness.

Jewell Rosen, Teacher, US
Participant, Dancing the Divine Feminine Workshop, Esalen, 2013

Jewell Rosen


The most transforming workshop I have ever done. The integrity, grace and flow were wonderful and healing was effortless. Banafsheh holds so perfectly what she teaches.

Sherry Moses, Australia
Participant, Dancing the Divine Feminine Workshop, Esalen, 2013

Sherry Moses


It was the most rewarding workshop - so much love and joy. I learned how to relax, love everyone and receive love...just let go

Sudabeh Yodeem, Iran/Los Angeles
Participant, Dancing the Divine Feminine Workshop, Esalen, 2013

Sudabeh Yodeem


Great! Banafsheh is an expert in her field that of dance, the energetics and practice and divinity and RUMI...so lovely

Beth Galis, Shaman, Coach, US
Participant, Dancing the Divine Feminine Workshop, Esalen, 2013

Beth Galis


A new enlightenment: from a state of grieving to peace and harmony within my soul.

Arlene Spencer, CA
Participant, Dancing the Divine Feminine Workshop, Esalen, 2013

Arlene Spencer


Groundbreaking, physically and emotionally challenging, seriously FUN, invigorating, expansive, peaceful and settling, inspiring and extremely supportive

Lee Edelberg, MA
Participant, Dancing the Divine Feminine Workshop, Esalen, 2013

Lee Edelberg


Every person in the group came away with many gifts. The first gift is the experience of meeting  each person in the group as a unique and special person.  In most groups that I have been in there are a few people with whom I develop close ties with. In this workshop we each discovered and explored the divine nature just beneath the surface of our skin. It was a mutual event. As we touched our own deeper truth, our expansion naturally extended to each person in our circle. Would that our world would fill with more deepening and expanding ways of meeting ourselves in each other. Banafsheh is a masterful guide taking us step by step beneath the superficial appearance of our skin to our bones, subtle energy circuits and the progression of the development of our energy through our chakras. Each step along the way was grounded in movement and dance process. I as a teacher myself was particularly impressed by the well thought progression of the unfolding of events. Each part built upon the next such that all participants were able to grow with little resistance to a profound transformation in process. Grounding in the body is the key to the success of this process. There were two parts. One was the daily movement practice which is an eclectics blend of oriental dance, Flamenco and a yoga flow. The other part was an overview of basic anatomy
which helped people to enter their own body with both more awareness and more awe. Which brings me to the most important part of the work and that is helping each person develop an appreciation of the awesome design of their own body. Once a person understands this they are never the same. Thank you Banafsheh for your inspired teaching.

Ruth Gould-Goodman, Movement Teacher, Acupuncturist, Author of The Sacred Book of U
Participant, Alchemy of Oneness Workshop, Turkey 2013

Ruth Gould-Goodman


I feel so blessed to have been able to attend your workshops and classes during the past 6 years. I have now attended your workshop in Turkey for the 4th time in a row and feel incredibly lucky to continue my sacred journey into Oneness with you, dear Banafsheh! You embody everything that I receive in your teachings. My life has become more meaningful through Rumi’s teachings and sacred movements, which I experience in your workshops. They are like a divine source - always accessible, always with me. This workshop in Turkey 2013 has been a much deeper immersion into spirituality. The body has been healed. Answers to important questions have been found. My path in life has been clarified – all thanks to the outstanding work you’ve done at the Alchemy of Oneness workshop.
You have a special gift – you create a circle of sisterhood and brotherhood at your workshops and attract the most beautiful beings into this circle where we all are showered with love, friendship and where we connect with our spiritual sisters and brothers. This connection creates a powerful source of energy and love, which propels the divine purpose much further than would have been possible doing it alone. Each day in class was like a spiraling page of eternity leading to better understanding of the universal laws of the Divine Love. What was really beautiful during a workshop: seeing the reflections of your teachings in each and every person and all of us growing into our best selves each day. 
Hamam and thermal waters – oh, my God! They made me feel like I was born anew. I felt alive in many ways.
 And your divine beauty and love, your divine presence always lit any room. With all my gratitude for the precious gifts – life changing teachings that I receive from you, dear Banafsheh - I just keep counting my blessings...

Irina Azarova, Nurse and Dancer, Russia/US
Participant, Alchemy of Oneness Workshop, Turkey 2013

Irina Azarova


What was new and very unexpected at least for myself, was your dance. Really it is out of this world, and no word or compliment can describe it. I love music and dancing and in my previous life, I was also fascinated by Sufism. I’ve taken some Yoga and Martial Arts before. I always thought, Sufism is great in spirituality, it’s a great food for mind and soul, but unfortunately opposite of the Hindu or far east philosophy which address the soul, mind as well as body, Sufism, never get to the physical part, like Yoga and Martial Art. But I guess, I found the missing link! Your dance, which I saw last night, is very representative of what one can call Sufi dance or “Raghs-e Sama”.

Abbas
Audience Member, Banafsheh & ZARBANG, 2009 Tour of North America



Abbas



I enjoyed being able to ground and stay in my core by feeling my feet on the earth. Felt like everyday more layers between my scattered self were shed and brought me closer to myself. No longer is enlightenment an achievement for me but rather a realization. One realization at a time brings me closer to enlightenment and if we do it together we can push consciousness to new heights because we cannot hold this frequency by ourselves....it is much easier to increase the success rate in a group of magnificent women and an impeccable woman Sufi teacher like Banafsheh.

Mimma, Dance Teacher, Italy/Japan

Participant, Alchemy of Oneness Workshop, Turkey 2013

Mimma


When Banafsheh Sayyad & ZARBANG came to Northern Virginia last May, my dance teacher Laurel Victoria Gray told me about the show and I went to see it. Here is a brief, informal review I wrote then and just found it again... Banafsheh Sayyad is a real Sufi priestess from Iran. She is bringing to life the actual presence and power of ancient priestesses through her incredible spiritually overwhelming dance. I just came from a performance by her, and all I could say was "Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God!!!" She and the percussionists created a space that took herself and the audience into intense ecstasy. She whirled with abandon in a freeform dance in which she really let herself go and used the mystical power of rhythm and dance to charge the space with unbelievable, unimaginable ecstatic trance.

I can't find the words to describe it, except to say you know those times when you suddenly realize that what you've gotten yourself into is extremely more intense than you could have anticipated? She took us there tonight. The sacred dance she has recreated and mastered caused that almost unbearable ecstasy to rise up within me and burst forth into another world. The only times I have felt this way before was on powerful psychedelics. Now I know the experience can be created purely through rhythm and dance, and the power of wild women.

As I saw Banafsheh dancing, I understood she is beyond being an "artist." She is truly a priestess, and her dance removed historical time altogether, the thousands of years in which the patriarchy tried to stamp out women's sacred dance, women's role as powerful priestesses of the numinous. All that was banished as she reconnected us with the power of the ancient priestesses and made it live again. It's coming back! It felt somehow out of place to applaud afterward, as though it were just another artistic performance. It wasn't. It was ageless, pure spiritual trance. It was real, immediate, mind blowing.

John Monastra, Virginia
Audience Member, Banafsheh & ZARBANG, 2009 Tour of North America

John Monastra


Un-caged goddess with your hands raised towards the sky,

You dance like a brolga,

Floating white as time, spinning on a whisper of divine unspoken radiance,

a thousand brilliant horses gallop like ghosts out from your heart,

hair black as lightning wild about your billowed skirt,

You whirl and swing and whirl and whirl

your axis  rooted to the earth

You are the soles of Rumi’s sandals,

and yet I see you, yes, I see you,

wafting up to heaven with the lightness of an angel dove.

David Francis, Poet, CA
Participant, Chakras 2 & 3: The New Year Relationships' Resolution, Ojai Retreat Center, 2010 Ojai

David Francis


Dedication to the effortless fall,
the one that springs from gentle friendship with gravity.
Persistence in relentless listening,
the whisper touch of breath on inner skin.
Fierce loyalty to unspecific kinships,
strangers met with courageous smiles.
Passion shared in murmurs,
vitality crackling in the bones of each generous hand.
Opening to ground,
this vital dance takes place in stillness,
harvest of fertile planting.

Heather Finton, Writer, Poet
Participant, Live Your Passion! Workshop, Hollyhock, 2009

Heather Finton


With great love, I embrace you and thank you for giving me moments of transcendence ... of the blissful joy that goes beyond my stories and all our stories. I am so grateful.

Joan Englander
Workshops in Ojai 2012

Joan Englander


Poem for Banafsheh
Intense
Passionate
Grounded
Full spirit
Full channeling
Full presence
Grace
Style
Beauty and power
Sister of the Dance
Dance of oneness
Dance
Parade
Walk
Proper posture…I am always watching you
Who are you?
What are you channeling?
Who are you???
What voices do you listen to?
What are you about?
Be like a shoot of bamboo
Allow the divine to fill you
We are 99% empty space
Align your Chakras, Align and allow the divine presence to move through you
Be a sister of dance, Be a brother to the dance
Whirl, gyrate, Shake
Our bodies need at least one good dusting each day
Be one with others dancing in a circle
Feel the oneness
Feel the power
Feel the beauty
Be the grace
Be the divine king and queen that you are
Dance with passion
Dance with unbridled energy
Grounded in who you are
Feel the relationship with the earth
With the moon
With the planets whirling
Whirl
Show others this dance of oneness
Be a brother, be a sister of oneness
Be true to you

Tom, Writer, Poet
Participant, Dance of Oneness Workshop, Charlotte NC, 2010

Tom


Thank you for coming to Charlotte. Your workshop was like a breath of fresh air! Thank you for sharing your spirit and your dance. Thank you for piercing my eyes with yours and allowing me to see your soul. Your energy filled the room with hope and trust and even before I thought I "might", you had me dancing, spinning and whirling. My life has been changed and my memory blessed. There are too many thinking/intellectual spiritual workshops and not enough DANCE!!!

Dottie Moore, Artist
www.dottiemoore.com
Participant, Dance of Oneness Workshop, Charlotte, NC, 2010

Dottie Moore


You have integrated God into our human dance and it is a step in evolution. I thank God and you for it.

Joan Englander, Teacher, Author
Participant, Dance of Oneness Introductory Workshop, Ojai, CA 2011

Joan Englander


It was by destiny that I happened upon the film in the Fire of Grace. I was utterly transported by your art which I respect totally not only as a lover of dance as an entity but also as a flamenco dancer* which coincided so perfectly with Rumi's wisdom. Your abilities and talent as a dancer and conveyer of emotion and passion are so imminent in this film. I am going through a personal evolution at the moment - and your work truly inspired me. Thank you for sharing all that you are...with great respect.

Lisa
On the film, In the Fire of Grace

Lisa


In the film In the Fire of Grace, I noticed that you are the Dance...You really are the Dance not just the dancer...

Mehri Frost, Malibu

Mehri Frost


I would love to be with you all the time...my heart so resonates with your energy and your teachings. I wish to emulate you and your artful manners and inner beauty, strength and peace.

Fran, San Luis Obispo
Participant, Release & Renew Workshop, Ojai, CA 2012

Fran


Banafsheh, as I continue to marvel and reflect on the powerful effect your teaching and practice have on me and seemingly all those with whom you come into contact, I want to tip my hat and bow from my heart in respect to the journey you have undertaken to arrive where you are in your life, your teaching, your practice, and your performances. I can scarcely imagine what the whole experience must feel like for you from the inside, but from my viewpoint (within and outside Oneness, if you will), I admire very much what you work to put out in the world, which looks very much to me like radiance, strength, and love. Blessings to you.

John Maciuika, Professor, NYC
Participant, Dance Your Passion Workshop, Esalen 2012

John Maciuika


I went to a Milonga last night (a Tango dance gathering) to experiment my "new" way of moving...OOHHH MYYYY!!!! You can do the Dance of oneness, or you can take the dance of oneness to YOUR dance...it was magic and my soul and body were just floating around the tango floor. I am so thankful I got to be at Esalen doing this workshop, meet great people, learn about Rumi and his poetry, and learn to move in this way.

Diana Escobar, US

workshop participant, Esalen, CA 2012


Call Upon Him & He Awakens My Slumber. 
Have you ever known a gentle caress in the arms of the Beloved or experienced waves of joy wash over you because there is only Love wherever you look, wherever you step?  
If I look to the heavens, Love is there. (Psalms)  If I bow and kiss the earth, Love is there.  If I look into the eyes of a stranger, Love comes back to me.  For what I receive from the Beloved is love and this is the Love poured out into the world.
I came into Banafsheh’s dance class with low energy; knee, hip, neck, and lower back joint discomforts. A few colon issues as well.  But after all, I am 75 years old, and things are wearing out!  Yet the holy teachings have something else to say to me: divine energy never wears out.  Instantly I am swept into the sacred wind where blows the sweetness of a new born life.
 Banafsheh is reciting Rumi:  Spring is Christ, this day is a lover, this day is gentleness.  “What does that mean to you?” she asks.  To be moved with the flowing motion of gentle rivers, gentle sunlight, tenderness and kindness flowing into myself, flowing out of myself; that’s what it means to me.
Yes, what I need is tenderness for my own being as I encounter the uncertainties of aging.  But I have stepped into Banafsheh’s dance class where the Beloved is certainty.  “Take one step toward me and I will take 10 toward you.”
“Remember me and I remember you,” Banafsheh’s soft voice is speaking.  “How much do you want this Beloved?  How much?  How much?"
Though it seems I am aging alone, that I am not sure where I belong, that my family is a vanishing star, here in this dance moment with Banafsheh, I am embraced by My Beloved’s family who holds me here and now.  Fear is not who I am.  In my dance, I am holding up a mirror of my Beloved so near.  I am not alone, I am in Him and in the heart of the Divine Mother, and they are in me.
So “put the past behind you,” Banafsheh guides, “hold up your arms.” And as I do so, a power awakens and thrusts my past behind me.  Breathing in, I take in this moment, this new day, my new springtime birth filled with sweet longing.
My “yes” is with me as I call Beloved, Beloved, Come, Come. And as I receive His love, so is it freely given out: In one movement, one light, one moment of bliss.
May this precious moment become many moments to fill up my lifetime, that I may be hands and heart as witness to the Love that birthed me into Life.

Joan Englander, Author, Teacher

workshop participant, Ojai, CA 2012


Dance of Oneness for me is finding the balance between feeling the ground and letting my heart melt at the same time. And the meeting place of these two energies is in the core of my being. Thank you to Banafsheh from all my heart.

Kristina Klenauskaite, Lithuania

workshop participant, Yalova, Turkey 2012


The Great Listening of Love

An angel holding your body to the ground while you are, so close so far, dancing with the stars.
Some other angels holding your arms and making you feel the emptiness with your hands.
You and the Universe become One.
Yes! You are One.
Finding yourself in the space.
Losing yourself in what you trace.
Transforming your own cells.
Smiling for Life.
Smiling for Love.
Always smiling: your Soul.
Healing All.
Being Light.
Being Love.
Being Nothing.
Being All.

Lucia Eguren, Dancer, Spain

workshop participant, Yalova, Turkey 2012


The Body of Light Retreat has shown me a way to begin to surrender into a deep embodiment of the light life force energy and allow it to vibrate and radiate out.
Banafsheh’s work is enabling a restoration of the embodiment of light. The spiritual and holistic intelligence of the ‘dance of oneness’ is a sacred art that allowed me to return home to the earth, the home of my body and devotion with the beloved. The impact of this time continues to resonate out into my life and the lives of those around me.

Oh my beloved
I run around relentlessly doing
While you wait with infinite patience
Waiting to kiss me awake
It is my deepest prayer to be awake and so help others to awaken.

It has been a long time since I have been wowed by a teacher. Banafsheh's authenticity born of her deep life journey has inspired me deeply.
Mirror gift to the return home. Holy gratitude I sing to you Dancing Troubadour
You are Hope for the planet
I am humbled, inspired and blessed by your Soul Art

Carrie Herbert, Musician, Teacher, Wales/Cambodia

workshop participant, Yalova, Turkey 2012


My short work with Banafsheh brought me such a solid transformation in the way I move in the world and a sense of belonging in my body that totally transforms not only the way I walk and stand but the way I live my everyday life, with less fear, more courage and readiness to serve to the highest good.

Anjali, MD, Spain

workshop participant, Turkey & Spain 2012


It has been my dream since childhood to dance and I never found out what really appealed to me. I saw Banafsheh dancing at the Birth 2012 Event and know that this is what I would have wanted to learn. I am 57 years old now and it's a bit too late for that. But I have had the joy to see and really feel through her what dance really is. Thank you Banafsheh for this gift that you bring to the world.

Marie France Hennequin, Viewer

audience member, Birth 2012 Event, Agape, CA


Banafsheh is really attentive to everyone. Movement and dance are made with a real deep respect for everybody, with deep awareness of life and spirit. I would like to share this experience with every woman I know. I will offer this to my daughters. Deep and high quality.

Veronique Boissin, MD, Healer, Belgium

workshop participant, Yalova, Turkey 2012


I had the deep experience of coming home to myself and finding my inner tranquility. In this tranquility there is no interruption and no separation. It is impossible to dance with Banafsheh and to stay the same person, believe me!

Nurgül Usluoglu, MD, Turkey/Switzerland

workshop participant, Yalova, Turkey 2012


Through this workshop I feel connected with the Mother Earth and the Divine energy. Banafsheh’s work is about consciousness and love that encompasses the body and the mind. When I danced in the Body of Light Workshop I felt a deep happiness came into me where I did not need anything else. I discovered that I can move not with force but with the power of my inner self.  I’m filled with love for Banafsheh and her work.

Esther Heine, Germany

workshop participant, Yalova Turkey 2012


Even today when I listen to the old recordings of Jacqueline du Pre playing her beloved cello, sitting there like a lioness with it held rapturously between her legs and arms and all her body, I focus ever so deeply and quietly because it is ‘as if’ I am actually listening to Divine Mother herself. But ‘as if’ isn’t how I’d say it. She’d disappear out of my listening if I thought about it that way. It’s much more real, like a true horse trainer talking to his unbelievably beautiful horse: love-talk. For me, when Jacqueline du Pre plays, it’s as if Divine Mother says: “move over, my love, just for a few minutes.” Suddenly, I have such a longing to sing my heart out through that beautiful cello. “It’s even possible”, Ma thinks as an afterthought, “that some people listening deeply enough, might hear and get a breath of the nuanced breadth of the Divine Feminine range of Power”. Forty years later, still listening to those old recordings, I can hear Her there in a way that never happens with YoYoMa or Rostropovich or Casals, as brilliant and moving as they may be: Ma sitting there playing the cello for the world to hear - and they do. All the world does hear, except they make the mistake of thinking it’s a Jacqueline du Pre, and there’s the real tragedy. A tragedy of such arrogant magnitude, it could cost us the earth.

I had the experience of the Divine Mother appearing to me once again in an earthly embodiment, walking on stage straight from the center of the earth or from the deep dark of the night sky: Jessye Norman. I remember whispering out loud: “Ma, it’s You!”

And then the other night it happened to me, only the third time in a long life dedicated pretty full-out to that dimension of the sacred. It happened when you danced. It was after the incident with the microphone and the wrong music because I can remember still seeing ‘you’, Banafsheh, picking up the microphone and kneeling down and reciting. So it must have been some time shortly after that, She silently pushed you aside and began dancing as if for her own deepest joy and that reason in itself would be more than enough - three or four worlds over enough. Once again, I had the same breathtaking awareness: “Ma, it’s You!” And I sat up as if I could drink in every particle of motion: see Her that very minute radiating birth; unraveling death; winding and unwinding the spiraling labyrinth of longing and loss. But those words don’ t seem to get the whole of it. When She appears like that, it is as if She were transmitting some tremendously vital message. It is as if the volcanic energy locked up and released in Her desiring to dance right there in front of us all carries something vitally important to hear - worlds beyond whether we see Her or not and beside the abundant joy of creation itself. Maybe, just maybe, She is also whispering into our ears - although infinitely and incomprehensibly beyond the beyond of my mind’s understanding: “I AM you! Listen closely! I AM you / Banafsheh / the little girl in the bed next to you crying her heart out for the grief of an addiction. Watch me even more closely”, and so I did. Every particle of every movement of her dance. Thank you so much to Banafsheh for giving the gift of herself and the gift of whirling and the gift of her own inestimable courage.

 

Ann Koll, workshop participant, Kripalu Center, MA


Banafsheh, her teachings and her beautiful art are to me such a joyful inspiration and the meaning of what we call life. I am able to enjoy the simple pleasure of Being more than ever before.

Wolfgang Etterling, Teacher and Musician, Germany/San Francisco

workshop participant, Esalen Institute 2012


I loved Banafsheh’s teaching so much. She embodies Sufi dance and teachings with a radiance and passion that saturated the depths of my body and heart. I would come to ANY workshop she offers. It was a rare opportunity and pleasure to be guided by such an embodied teacher. Her warmth, experience and passion are very inspiring. It was one of the most alive and vibrant workshops if not the best I’ve ever been to. She is so loving and tender – a true joy to be in her presence.

Heather

workshop participant, Esalen Institute


I’ve had the immense pleasure of experiencing Banafsheh's beauty of movement and spirit twice now at Hollyhock on Cortes Island, BC. Her performance the final evening of her program was nothing short of ecstatic revelry. Her fluidity and professionalism sank into our very cells and every person in the hall stood in enthusiastic response to her virtuosity. Our applause and thank you to Banafsheh for her unbridled passion-filled dance. What a true pleasure and joy it is to know her and experience her work. Brava! Brava!

 

Tess Wixted, Programmer, Hollyhock Center, BC Canada


Breathtaking in gracious postures,
she dances to invoke light,
blistering heat
traversing an illusion of gentleness,
hard muscles softened by decades of dedication.

She dances to invoke the many faces of love,
wide smiles and deep torments,
birthing fresh acknowledgment with each patterned step.

She dances to engage the watchers,
 witnessing the spark
as it travels through her body.
Wind from whirling arms blows softly on their own tinder.

Heather Finton, poet, writer

workshop participant, Hollyhock Center, Cortes Island, BC Canada 2010


Exquisitely beautiful, powerful and profound dancing experience. It was such an honour, a privilege and a delight to be with and to dance with Banafsheh. Her gentle, clear encouragement, her fluid, responsive teaching style and the sheer presence of her inspiring essence are peacefully intoxicating. My life and my body.mind.spirit have been indelibly altered and I will continue to cherish the feelings and movements we generated, individually and as a group! Banafsheh exudes grace, generosity and  deep loving kindness. The wisdom and beauty of her dance and her teaching are still “turning” within me! What gifts she has given us.

Deborah

workshop participant, Hollyhock Center, Cortes Island, BC Canada 2010


I thought that once in Istanbul, all the magic of our time together would come to an end, or at least that it was not going to be as intense. But, on the contrary, the feeling of joy, beauty and well-being I felt during the time I spent in the workshop, did not diminish at all and I felt as if something new was growing in my heart. The heart has started to coexist with the mind.
Now that I'm back in Spain, I realize that there is no way back and that, as Banafsheh says, if I keep my feet on the ground, centered in my core and living from my open heart, there is nothing I should be scared of.

Pilar Oliva, Journalist, Spain

workshop participant, Yalova, Turkey 2011


Banafsheh flows like a beautiful river of light.

Middle Eastern dancer and teacher, US

Amel Tafsout


I'm inspired by Banafsheh's integration of Sufi and Eastern philosophy, especially the idea of walking joyfully with present-moment awareness, and the ideas of being fully ourselves and allowing our souls to expand. Her precise and passionate teaching made it rather easy to understand the movements. In short, I loved it!

Farshid Ketabchi, Iran/US

workshop participant, San Diego, CA 2008


Thank you so much for your beautiful performance in Salt Lake City. I was once again inspired by your moving dance. We are grateful to you for presenting such uplifting, tasteful dance in a world where many performers offer only temporal or pseudo sensual dance in the name of ‘Middle Eastern tradition’.

 

Kathryn St. John, Dancer and Educator


Thank you to Banafsheh for beckoning me on a new journey of joy with all of her love. She exudes reminders with every sweet breath that the dance of oneness is the embodiment of joy that I can find in any movement. I have been exposed to a visceral experience of dance as yet another path to the divine - with the sheer joy of music to lead the way

Debra Alt, Musician

workshop participant, Omega Institute, NY 2014


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