Banafsheh, Dancer, Choreographer and Artistic Director
Persian master dance artist and transformational teacher, Banafsheh communicates the universal message of Sufi mysticism and Divine Feminine wisdom in a passionate yet serenely meditative way. Her dance is an interplay between trance and directed movement, precise yet abandoned and unrestrained. Her explosive yet fluid movement is sensual and ritualistic, uniting the feminine and masculine energies, body and soul, light and dark in a marriage of opposites. She invokes the ancient roots of dance as devotion, prayer and adoration while blazing an original trail in contemporary dance with her masterly fusion of high level dance technique and spirituality. Watch Banafsheh Dance
Her mesmerizing offering of the timeless Divine Feminine inside a contemporary gypsy dervish beckons you to engage, serve, exalt and honor your sexuality as sacred. She is one of the few bearers of authentic Persian dance in the world, an innovator of Sufi dance previously only performed by men and a pioneer in contemporary Persian dance, all of which characterize the form she has created called Dance of Oneness® geared towards empowering women and men through sacred embodiment.
Internationally known for her innovative movement vocabulary and high artistic and educational standards, she draws from her extensive background in Sufism, Persian dance and ritual, Tai Chi and flamenco to present a new form, rooted in tradition yet universal.
Banafsheh’s movement is comprised in part by the Persian alphabet translated into gestures and movement, which when put together dances out words and poetic stanzas, mostly taken from the works of the great mystic poet, Rumi, whom she has studied extensively, resonating with his fierce yet gentle essence that beckons each and everyone to break through conformity and limitation to find their individual glory.
Banafsheh comes from a long lineage of pioneering performing artists. Her father, the legendary Iranian filmmaker, theater director and actor, Parviz Sayyad, hailed as the Charlie Chaplin of Iran, is the most famous Iranian of his time. Banafsheh is a recipient of the prestigious James Irvine Foundation grant in Dance. She holds an MFA in Dance from UCLA where she taught Persian dance. She has studied with some of the great masters in dance and choreography including Antonia Rojos, Victoria Marks, David Rousseve and Donna Uchizono.
Also an acupuncturist, she draws from the Taoist view of the internal functioning of the body to uncover the healing, rejuvenating aspects of movement. Banafsheh’s solo and ensemble work with her dance company, NAMAH has been presented extensively in festivals and by dance presenters in North America, Europe and Australia where she has gained tremendous audience and critical acclaim. Her 2011 dance film In the Fire of Grace with author and scholar, Andrew Harvey traces Rumi’s journey of the Soul in dance.
“Watching Banafsheh dance is to glimpse something both otherworldly as well as fully grounded in the momentous meaning of the present.” ~ LA Yoga
Banafsheh, the Teacher
As a transformational teacher, Banafsheh’s teaching is “life changing”. A pioneer in a fusion of rigorous dance technique with spiritual embodiment and healing, she combines the art of Sufi Whirling Dervishes, Persian dance, flamenco and Tai Chi into a self-illuminating, healing dance she has founded called Dance of Oneness®, a Certification Program, a blueprint to divine embodiment that she teaches around the world, guiding people to find their inner bliss and divine self through a dance of opposites.
Banafsheh’s spiritual teachings through dance, movement and meditation are based in joyously embodying the transcendent in our everyday lives leading to both women and men’s empowerment as embodied souls. “Love your body and your Self, and live in the world as a Lover” are the elemental messages Banafsheh encourages her students to experience.
She teaches a wide variety of people – professional dancers, dance, yoga and movement teachers, and people with little background in movement and has initiated many into their body wisdom, consistently inspiring and motivating people with movement’s dynamic healing and freeing powers. Her life has been devoted to empowering people through the creative process, inspiring them to free themselves and to transform their daily lives into sacred, loving art that makes them FULLY ALIVE.
Currently based in Los Angeles, Banafsheh teaches across North America, Europe and Turkey including Esalen Institute and Multiversity in California, Omega Institute, The Rowe Center and Menla Mountain Retreat Center for Happiness in NY, Kripalu Center in Massachusetts, The Dance Center at Columbia College, Chicago and Hollyhock on Cortes Island, BC, and Schweibenalp Center of Unity among other places.
“Banafsheh masterfully fuses ancient forms with a postmodern punch.” ~ Los Angeles Times
Banafsheh is available for solo performances with recorded or live music with 1 to 5 musicians. She also performs with noted Rumi scholar, writer, and mystic Andrew Harvey.
She is also available as guest dancer with dance companies and music ensembles; and for choreography commissions.
She is available for speaking engagements and lecture/demonstrations on Sacred Dance, Persian Dance, Rumi, Sufism, Dance of Oneness, Embodying the Divine Feminine, and Women’s Empowerment in the Middle East.
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Phone: + 1 310 499 7100