Testimonials

 

“Banafsheh's teaching is vital to my recovery from corporate exhaustion. Since finding this amazing spiritual teacher at the beginning of the year, I have dedicated myself seriously to this study."
Susanne Bowra, Ph.D, Student

Susanne Bowra, PhD


"Banafsheh is the ambassador of peace, love, and oneness. She is also a healer who reconnects body and soul."

Farzaneh Aryaee, Student, Switzerland


Banafsheh’s dance is a manifestation of Beauty, a taste of the divine through all the senses…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.

Jane Garland, MD, Audience, Canada


"Banafsheh embodies and expresses the Divine Feminine in all that she does."

Caroline Coyle, Student, Canada


"It was an amazing, intense and sometimes overwhelming experience. At one point, the combination of Sema, the dancing, astrological and Sufi teaching, readings and encounters overwhelmed me with a unifying message/experience leading to a spiritual/emotional/physiological shift. I returned grounded, fully embracing my feminine power and equipped with the tools to do my part in living in unison with all of the Beloved’s creations."

Deidre Washington, Call to Love, Turkey 2018


"It is what I’ve been searching for deep inside… knowing that it existed somewhere, this embodiment of dancing my truth. Sacred dance allows for the expression of embracing the Divine through the bodies that we inhabit for a brief moment in time with deep gratitude."

Dawn Parkin, Dance Your Passion, Rowe 2018


"Beautiful experience as always. I was reminded of much that is eventual. To be free and love oneself deeply, and love others, this body, our temple and to explore its powers and extremities. As always, thank you for your beautiful guidance, teachings and poetry. Dancing on!"

Fida, Dance Your Passion, Rowe 2018


"My experience of the workshop was exactly what I need for my spiritual expansion. The pace was perfect for me. Banafsheh’s voice, pace, and care for the group was wonderful. I’m very excited to have found Banafsheh as a source of inspiration!"

Diane Holschuh, Dance Your Passion, Rowe 2018


"A transformative workshop! Banafsheh skillfully takes us step by step to an experience of dance that brings me deeper into my body, to a peace of feeling grounded and open to beauty and to love. Most importantly for me, the process brought me to experience a lovingness toward myself. I appreciate her presence of gentleness and fierce passion, and I’m inspired to bring my best self into my world."

Marie Regis, Dance Your Passion, Rowe 2018


"At every retreat of Dance of Oneness, I come in touch with a different yet profound healing layer of spirit level. Dancing the movements that were very grounded in tribal beats, I got in touch with the mother earth’s whispers and beats. As the beats got louder and stronger, I could hear the lineage of tribal dancers moving through me. Banafsheh’s direction to stay in touch with our steps and our souls and to the earth’s embrace, stepping with reverence, I hear her whispering stories of these powerful tribal steps and movers. I feel a deep gratitude for all my ancestors who passed these on. At this moment as I feel deeply into my steps, imitating them from the depth of my heart, she smiles, I cry."

Helen Betgararjis, Dance Your Passion, Rowe 2018


"This is a profound body of work for a profound experience of embodiment! I have studied and searched for 35 years for this depth of love and illumination that Banafsheh brings to the sacred dance floor."

Kylee Smith, Dance Your Passion, Rowe 2018


"Enlightening and energizing. I felt more open and surprisingly more energetic that I have in a long time. I was afraid I wouldn’t physically be up to the task of moving and stretching but that was not the case. Not only did Banafsheh allow for and encourage different levels of mobility and strength, but the movement she teaches is both gentle and flowing when taken together and mixed with music produce a joyous energy. It can be a little exhausting for the out of shape, but it’s a good feeling. I found it liberating to be encouraged to move freely to music that provides an (to me) intrinsically sacred and primal connection."

Joellen Holcomb, Dance Your Passion, Rowe 2018


"I appreciated the overarching sense of inclusion and kindness. I felt it and it seemed like others did too. I am grateful for the sense of community that many spoke of during our reflections, that only moving together in Spirit can create. This is such a magnificent practice Banafsheh has created. This weekend I discovered that I have been separating my mind from my body and myself from the world. I have felt the oneness. Now instead of being grateful for my stomach, I am grateful for me and my stomach as part of me, of my whole being, from light above to roots below."

Dunan Herman-Parks, Dance Your Passion, Rowe 2018


"The workshop was far beyond what I expected. I attend many workshops of varied subjects, primarily focused on healing. This was such an amazing tapestry of knowledge and wisdom to touch all elements of the being; mind, body, spirit, emotion, heart. Such a graceful approach to creating a climate to embody the wisdom."

Nataschaa Chatterton, Radiant Core 2018


"Banafsheh's grace and beauty is rippling ever outward to encompass the world. The weekend was a delight and fresh adventure into devotion for me. The dance is one of my favourite devotional practices adding the Sama has enhanced this beautifully. The experiential nature was exactly what I had showed up for and received. I am very grateful to your creational light and to Tony’s music to bring forth so much love in motion."

Anne Round, Radiant Core 2018


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

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


Incredible! Banafsheh is a gift from God. A pure soul who brings joy to the world with her gift of love and dance. It was a magical experience.

Linda Blake, The Rowe Center, MA 2017


I know now that your path in life is far greater than what I thought it was in the beginning - you are the Love + Light for Humanity. What a Blessing to leave you here - now!

Derek Mack-Mumford, Hollyhock, Canada 2017


Dance of Oneness feels deeply resonant with my being and body. I love Banafsheh’s fluid and open teaching style and how much love, joy and presence she brings to the circle. Tony is a gem!  What a sweet heart!  And his musicianship...oh my goodness...I loved being taken into the dance with his music.


Mira Sophia, Vancouver Island, Canada, 2017


Banafsheh’s loving presence of the divine is INCREDIBLE and deeply inspiring. She lives the aspect of the divine Mother and I always felt held and deeply supported in the workshop.

Celia Dobroschke, Schweibenalp, Switzerland 2017


This practice of oneness, through Dance, with the Beloved that is so alive in the being of you, Banafsheh, has been a total joy! A truly transformational & healing journey deeper into the love within, into the Beloved. Thank you, for the gentleness & humbleness with which you teach. Thank you for touching my heart with such deep beauty and for the reminder that the love comes from within.

Niomi Starspires, Hollyhock, Canada 2017


I have learned a new spiritual practice. Banafsheh’s preparation and instruction was so helpful and beneficial to me in so many ways. When we began to whirl I was esctatic to discover I could do it! Without getting dizzy! I feel I have been in subliminal time ever since I came - I have learned so much! About my body and moving in a spiritual way - making a spiritual connection through movement.

Jean Ando, The Rowe Center, MA 2017


Banafsheh facilitates a sensuous, feminine, powerful embodiment of the soul, a spiritual path that I am dedicating myself to exploring. She holds a loving and vibrant energy for the room that enables me to go further than I could by myself.

Susanne Bowra, PhD, Schweibenalp, Switzerland 2017


My experience of this workshop was very transformative. Banafsheh has a beautiful way of instructing so that all feel welcome & able to participate in their own way. I loved Banafsheh’s beautiful voice, calm and invitational and very meditative. Banafsheh has inspired me beyond words and I feel honored to have had the pleasure of witnessing her dance and her generosity in sharing her passion for the Divine and for sacred dance. My heart has opened exponentitally from the experience. I am ever so thankful to have been in her presence. I have learned about myself & dove into the oceans of ecstatic dance and am excited to have been a part of this spiritual path. She has inspired and rekindled a love of dance and spiritual exploration that I will continue to rekindle and ignite in myself and others.

Tonya Sanai, Hollyhock, Canada 2017


I’m always amazed by Banafsheh’s great even energy and her love affair with all. ‘To heal by becoming one’, was my personal favorite sentence.

Catherine von Graffenried, Schweibenalp, Switzerland 2017


My experience was so phenomenal it is hard to put it into words. Before attending this amazing workshop, I never really thought about my Dantian while dancing and I thought it was awesome to issue my movement through there, and seeing everyone come together and support one another.

Laara Huuskonen, Hollyhock, Canada 2017


This workshop was an incredible marriage of rigorous dancing and merciful understandings. Thank you Banafsheh for unapologetically being who you are and sharing what you uniquely share in the world - what the Divine offers through you. Thank you for so generously sharing your practices and the wisdom that brought you to these practices and the wisdom that moves through you during these practices. Thank you for embodying, listening and honoring as a way of life and for that being an implicit and explicit focus of the workshop.

Candice Salyers, The Rowe Center, MA 2017


"This dance was a piece of my life's puzzle. It 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. I have experienced an internal Revolution and I can dance freely once again."

Kathryn Fleming, workshop participant, NY


With Banafsheh, very moment is in the present and every moment is dance…

Véronique Boissin, Schweibenalp, Switzerland 2017


I felt the container Banafsheh created for us Infuse me Nourish me and Renew me. Through the days together I felt myself resting deeper and deeper in slow love. Ripe slow love. Permission to be in that slow love. And then in the moments it felt natural to meet my wildness - I could meet it. I love being in a room of people who are in touch with the Natural Wildness, the warm lover, the seeker of the Beloved with untamed expression & joy. Banafsheh embodies both the wild & the deep. It is a joy to be in that transmission and the whirling.

In that I melt, I meet
the dissolved space
that has everything

Cat Wilson, Hollyhock, Canada 2017


Banafsheh magically unites all participants into a circle of interconnection, love, respect and caring for each other, for Gaia and our world’s well-being. That’s why I believe that her work is greatly needed in order to heal and activate as many people in as many countries as possible to help our Mother Earth to become a place of Peace and Love. 

Banafsheh’s art is that she is able to reveal our best, our talents, unique capabilities. I have studied with her for 10 years. It has been a never ending desire to come back, to return into her embrace and experience bliss, activation and aliveness all over again! I always get in touch with my best self in her presence, not speaking of what has been brought into my creative life as a result of her magical work. I have earned freedom in my stage dance performances. I’ve incorporated movements from her classes into my daily exercise routines. I am mindful of my presence in my work interactions, and that I am responsible for making a difference in well being of people around me and especially of my patients. 

Banafsheh is on a mission in this world to liberate us from ‘smallness’ and to lead us to our ‘greatness’; to bring awareness to our sacredness; to give us a ground so we could ground ourselves; to give us the wings so we could FLY!

Irina Azarova, RN, Schweibenalp, Switzerland 2017


Looking at Banafsheh in front of Mother Mary's image, she is a replica of her…she is her daughter...
Banafsheh embodies Mary's divine feminine love. I saw at the end of our sharing circle people were blossoming like flowers. So different than the first day. What a magical transmutation...

Roseline Koener, The Rowe Center, MA 2016


My experience was subtle and deep. The magic of the dance was the medicine, but the medicine was activated and potentized by the graceful, whole hearted presence of Banafsheh. All at once she is warmly nurturing and absolutely clear in her power and devotion to the Beloved in herself and every dancer in the room.

Melissa Nobels, Hollyhock, Canada 2017


Being in touch with my inner being is ‘Life’ giving. Banafsheh embodies her teachings - so full of joy and love, passion and humor. She is such an inspiration! The life she exudes is contageous. I love her!

Judy Malek, Hollyhock, Canada 2017


"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..."

Cat Wilson, workshop participant, Canada


I was able to fully drop into the ‘matrix’, center, breathe, love & flow…all because of Banafsheh’s ‘holding’ and guiding me back to my joy, my strength, myself. And so I become the calm & loving center of the storm. The storm is ok by me! Thank you, Banafsheh…you have saved my life by remembering me to Remember.

Deborah Koch, Hollyhock, Canada 2017


MIRACULOUS, TRANSFORMATIVE, SOULFUL!

Banafsheh’s sacred presence, every word she speaks exuded radiance of passion, love, and divinity! I entered moments of feeling myself being fully in my heart, from the radiance and ever presence of love and passion in the room, and experienced moments of dancing with abandon, with a flood of love flowing through me, supporting me, shedding my self-consciousness, melting the density of my body, re-discovering and embracing my own femininity, parts of which I had buried long ago.

Vivianne Chu, Esalen Institute, CA 2016


Banafsheh maintains a high vibration which is ennobling and uplifting. She holds participants in their highest and embodies the ideals which she teaches. She is a master leader, facilitator and dancer who creates a comfortable framework for all to experience and learn.

Brigid Donohue, Schweibenalp, Switzerland 2017


"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. Holy gratitude I sing to Banafsheh, the dancing Troubadour: You are Hope for the planet...I am humbled, inspired and blessed by your Soul Art."

 

Carrie Herbert, Musician, Teacher, Wales/Cambodia


Truly amazing and transformational- a beautiful experience of grounding and embodying Oneness.

V. Jane Fadden, Rowe Center, MA 2016


Banafsheh is the ambassador of peace, love, and oneness. She is also a healer who reconnects  body and soul.

Farzaneh Aryaee, Schweibenalp, Switzerland 2017


"Banafsheh teaches by example more than any teacher I have had. Her own embodied spirit is inspirational."

Rhonda Roselli, workshop participant, Attorney, MA


Deep reconnection to my body and my soul, like a homecoming. With every Dance of Oneness move we dance into unity and connection, healing for peace and freedom on our our planet.

Susan Wacker, Schweibenalp, Switzerland 2017


“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.” 

Leila Meshkat, workshop participant, CA


Banafsheh is a wonderful teacher in dance, spirituality, and holding space. A beautiful woman and dancer, she sets an example.

Elischewa Dreyfus, Schweibenalp, Switzerland 2017


I experienced a deepening within Soma - touching the Divine, unfathomable power that encompasses all and a deep humility to have allowed it to move through me. I experienced the joy of community, the humanity and spirit present in each person I connected with. The simple joys of eye gazing, physical touch and sharing a sacred space. I felt the loving guidance and spirit of Banafsheh as she gently held a loving space for us to move toward and remember our true selves. The music and the space at Rowe also helped enormously in creating a fertile environment for growth. When I close my eyes I see trees and beautiful souls sitting in a circle in love. I take that with me.

Elena Kowalsky, The Rowe Center, MA 2017


I feel as if I’ve been re-birthed. I feel a big transformation of shedding the walls and finding my oneness (even with it’s small soft light. I honor and treasure it as it grows and ebs and flows). I cannot wait for all the locks and walls you have unlocked and taken down gently with the sounds and rythyms of movement. Loooovvee that you mixed isolations and some technical human body structures with more free dance - to bring back the child I will always wish to be and to also allow me to honor and find my power without ego.

Johnnie Grebler, Hollyhock, Canada 2017


I could feel very deep this love from universe. And with your poems and movements I could ground it in my heart and in our planet. Thanks for coming so close to my place, to nourish my body and my soul.

Catherine von Graffenried, Bern, Switzerland 2017


Dance of Oneness is very inspiring particularly for women like me who need encouragement in their confidence that we all can move and dance beautifully in our own way.


Monica Levine, The Rowe Center, MA 2016


The last 9 years have involved an accident, surgeries and a heart attack. As a woman who has already loved movement, dance and hiking, but feeling my body be creaky, stiff, sore, breathless, etc, this has been a real bummer. This Dance of Oneness got my body to soften and feel exuberant. As for my spirit - this has been a much-needed and true UPLIFT!

Sandra Fisher, The Rowe Center, MA 2016


"Banafsheh is the epitome of the spectacular lightness of being personified. Simply Stunning. Her dance is one of my top 10 eternal moments that I'll relive in memory for all time!"

M. Gast, audience member, Los Angeles


Every workshop with Banafsheh brings me a step closer and deeper into my soul, while befriending, loving and adoring the Beloved. I am deeply grateful for Banafsheh’s immense wisdom and heartfelt support.

Helen BetGivargis, The Rowe Center, MA 2016


Banafsheh has the gift of holding space in deep love and integrity.

Kathy P. Benson, The Rowe Center, MA 2016


I didn't know what to expect from my impulsive decision to go to Esalen and chose Banafsheh’s workshop only because I like to dance. I was blown away by how deeply I connected with the dance of oneness. I feel more balanced, grounded and light, powerful and feminine than I think I have ever felt. A truly beautiful and inspiring week!

Carolyn Doherty, Esalen Institute, CA 2016


Banafsheh empowers each one of us – we all have our own unique gifts and mission, and “small” is just as big. Banafsheh honors each one of us and our gifts in an egoless, loving way.

Akshara Sangiorgio, Hollyhock Retreat Center, Canada, 2016


Banafsheh is spectacular. Her force, energy, expertise, and love are all present and she is able to guide an amazing experience.

Paul Todisco, Dance of Oneness, Los Angeles 2016


I saw the sun in one of your hands and the moon in the other and your body the map of the universe. Stars came out of your hair with each rotation.

Davood Roostaei, Artist, 2016


I felt that I could fully express myself, my body and any insecurities with ease and grace. I was made to feel welcomed and nurtured. The presence that Banafsheh brings to presence is a whole new level. I feel like I can say that I finally have a role model in my life that I can look up to who is from the Middle East, my region, my culture, my world. This is the greatest gift. She has inspired my to keep pushing boundaries and reaching for the stars while holding dear our ancestors and heritage.

Zena el Khalil, Schweibenalp, Switzerland 2016


I can’t say it enough - the practice that Banafsheh offers is so so precious. She (Banafsheh) is a gem in this world sharing a medicine much needed. Dance of Oneness is a powerful practice of Love…

Madhurima Braaten, Hollyhock, Canada 2016


Despite having an autoimmune disease that causes fatigue and considerable chronic pain, I experienced this workshop as an invigorating and joyful reconnection with my body; the program left me not only with less pain than when I began, but with a hopefulness that I can once again dance as I did as a child and young woman, once again dance fully present in the moment, both lost and found in the wonders of life, music, and love.

Sabrina Wolf, Menla Center of Happiness, NY, 2016


Banafsheh is a true inspiration as mentor and the embodiment of the divine feminine. She is truly beautiful divine human being. I came out of the workshop with powerful tools to accompany me on my path and share with others.

Ginou Choueiri, Schweibenalp, Switzerland 2016


I feel the depth, the love, the power, the unity of Banafsheh’s work and again I am struck that this is way beyond physical dance. Yes, the dance is the vehicle, the embodiment for what we need in this life and yes, she is much more than a "dance teacher."  She is imparting the healing truth of our being and opening the door to longing for transformation and integrating of the whole of ourselves and God.  And for that, we must meet our shadows.

Joan Englander, CA 2016


"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, student since 2007


"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 is 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, Student, CA


"Banafsheh's workshops are experiential - experiencing the states of beings I had only read about! I have had bodily injuries that have been healed throughout the years with her practices."

Maryam Nassirbegli, Student, Turkey


"Banafsheh is the love that dances."

Karin Zettl, Student, Germany


"I am so inspired by this beautiful practice - what it does for the female collective and the healing of the feminine as well as a deep embodiment of the god force that it helps me tap into. Banafsheh embodies both the wild & the deep."

 

Cat Wilson, Student, Canada


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

Deepak Chopra


“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.”

Danielle Hartman, Student, NYC


“Banafsheh turns women into Goddesses and men into Gods - everyone who works with her regains a robust confidence in themselves.” 

Eleanor Ambos, Student, MA


“Authoritative footwork and bold, mercurial undulations sustained by a spectacular command of balance.” 

LA Times


"Banafsheh, a font of exquisite perpetual motion, is a temple frieze come to life, a one woman whirling darvish, trance spinning to glorious music as she beckons us into her exotic world.” 

LA Times


“Banafsheh’s work is entirely distinctive from what has commonly been called Persian Dance. Highly artistic and virtuosic in choreography and execution, it is a dance that for the first time can be called “contemporary Persian Dance” or “Banafsheh Dance”, representative of Persia, borne in a period where dance is forbidden. “Banafsheh Dance” is a heartfelt expression of the Persian cultural and artistic needs that have been long oppressed.” 

Shokooh Mirzadegi, Prominent Iranian Critic


“Banafsheh embodies what it means to dance with abandon and fully live the ecstatic poetry of Rumi as luminous moon-light on radiant silver clouds.”

Felicia Tomasko, Editor, LA Yoga


“The perfect way to open ritual aspects of Persian dance to a wider audience while preserving the sense of participating in something sacred.”  

LA Weekly


“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.” 

Marianne Williamson


“Master of mystical Persian dance, Banafsheh teaches and performs with an attitude of liquid gold pouring over silk velvet.”

Felicia Tomasko, Editor, LA Yoga


“Banafsheh is a master performer ... the quintessential professional in her field not only as a dancer but as an artistic interpreter of Rumi.”  

Caroline Myss


“Startlingly beautiful whirling darvish moves.”

LA Times


Banafsheh’s interview with Felicia Tomasko, Editor-in-Chief of LA Yoga
July / August 2011

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, what it means to fully live the ecstatic poetry of Rumi, of 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.

For Banafsheh, dance is a connection with the divine, with the infinite, and is an expression of oneness with the universe through this artistic language. To create the soundtrack for her practice, she often collaborates with skilled sacred musicians, including the heartfelt Tony Khalife.

Banafsheh and her friend and colleague, Andrew Harvey, the mystic who frequently writes and speaks on sacred activism, the poetic words of Rumi, and the path of the sacred, together created a DVD called In the Fire and Grace. She spoke to LA YOGA while still unpacking from her recent trip to Turkey, where she led the retreat: Dance of Oneness, Upward Spiral of Love.

Felicia Marie Tomasko: When you dance, what do you call upon for inspiration?
Banafsheh: I call upon the Beloved, which in essence is all-that-is, so everything inspires me to dance. I dance to become empty, exorcising myself of emotional buildups, so that the Divine music can play through me. Rumi likens the human body to the ney or the reed flute. He says, “We have two mouths like the ney, one mouth is hidden in the lips of the Beloved.”

FMT: How do you connect with music when you dance?
B: I become the music. Sometimes, I feel I am one of the instruments in the orchestra, other times I am the whole orchestra.

FMT: How do you connect with music as a performer and as a teacher?
B: As a performer, I echo the music and feel moved by it, especially when I improvise with musicians where we create in the now as a group channel for Divine music. As a teacher, the music is sometimes the source of choreography and other times I begin with a choreography. I want to teach, then I choose the piece of music based on the sequence. In my classes I use music to open people’s hearts, wanting for them to connect deeply with themselves, with the dance, and with others.

FMT: What was the impetus for creating the DVD: In the Grace of Fire?
B: I have been performing and touring since 1999 and have an extensive archive of concert footage, which I have never released to the public despite the great urging from my audiences. Shortly after I began teaching and performing with my dear friend and colleague, Andrew Harvey, he urged me to create a DVD of our work together. From this kind of presentation, I could see a real value emerging. I see my work and offering as an invitation to all, especially women, to break through resistance and express themselves fully, as has been my own journey as a Middle Eastern woman finding herself in dance – one of the most tabooed public activities in the region.

FMT: What makes In the Grace of Fire different from your live performances?
B: There is no live audience: It’s literally me and the Divine. Having not had much experience with dancing purely for recording, I approached the filming experience like a dance with the Divine. I performed the dances from beginning to end without stopping and repeated them a number of times.

FMT: What has been the response to the DVD thus far?
B: The response I have received is much more than I had hoped. People feel inspired by the invitation to embody the Transcendent fully: in both peace and passion as outlined in the five stages of the path in the DVD. People tell me that seeing this helps them to live knowing that everything that happens in our lives is an act of Grace, or in other words, to live love.

FMT: Speak about your collaboration with both Rumi and Andrew Harvey.
B: The poet Rumi has always been my spiritual guide and teacher. He brought Andrew and I together at Kripalu in 2007, when we began teaching and performing the five stages of the spiritual path as set forth by Rumi – The Call, Falling in Love, The Dark Night, Union, and Living as the Lover. Collaborating with Andrew has been an amazing journey as he so passionately and utterly has given all of himself to our offering, supporting me so completely along the way and encouraging me to take flight.

FMT: How does your study of Chinese Medicine and healing connect with your work in music and dance?
B: I approach dance and music as a way to heal, to become whole. Chinese medicine teaches us about the management of our energy, the meridians being like our energy flow channels and focal points. My teaching is in part based on meridian energy flow, and I have also developed movements for each of the seven bodily chakras. I dance with the intention of being open to that vast field of healing, and by embodying myself fully in each moment – thus being empty to channel light, love, and grace.

FMT: How does Yoga connect to dancing for you?
B: The process of calling on the Beloved, being open to heal and to be divine, be the Oneness through dance – is a kind of Yoga. In this manner, Yoga and dance for me are connected processes in that they both develop and prepare the body to be a channel for light and love in the world, and one is essential and integral to the other. Banafsheh teaches regularly in her current home city of Los Angeles as well as throughout the world.

Banafsheh interview with Felicia Tomasko


Part whirling dervish, part flamenco femme fatale, sensuous and audacious, Banafsheh’s dance is a mesmerizing foray into the body as trance mechanism; a DNA strand, supple, fluid and noble, come to life.

Victoria Looseleaf

Los Angeles Times


The perfect way to open ritual aspects of Persian dance to a wider audience while preserving the sense of participating in something sacred.

Anne Haskins

LA Weekly


NAMAH from Iran confirmed the power of musically focused, non-narrative dancing. Accompanied by percussive beats on skins, this trio of incantory dancers spiraled in tandem and around each other as if carried along by the desert wind.

Rita Feliciano

Dance Magazine


A group of performers who challenge stereotypes about Iranian identity, Banafsheh and ZARBANG's work is entertaining and revolutionary, both.

Vancouver Sun

Vancouver Sun


From the very beginning of Banafsheh’s performance, I realized that we are faced with something entirely different and distinctive from what has commonly been called Persian Dance. Banafsheh’s dance was not only a highly artistic and virtuosic work both in terms of choreography and execution, but also for the first time I was witnessing a dance that one could call contemporary or modern Persian Dance – a dance with its own artistic language, neither Eastern in the style of Arabic, Indian and Chinese, nor Western as in flamenco, Modern European or American. This dance is close to the essence of Persian culture with harmonious movement, insightful, connected to the music and above all, beautiful.
The dance form created by Banafsheh can only be called Banafsheh Dance. Much like how Lezgi Dance is reminiscent of Azari culture or flamenco is particular to Spain, etc, Banafsheh Dance can be representative of Persian culture.
Banafsheh Dance has another beauty, which comes from being borne in a period where dance is forbidden in our country. In essence, Banafsheh Dance is a heartfelt expression of our cultural and artistic needs that have been long oppressed. Luckily, unlike most of our modern music, both inside or outside of Iran, Banafsheh Dance is not backwards and regressive artistically. It is actually advancing on the path of becoming international.

Shokooh Mirzadegi

From the Archives of A Woman's View


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


The highlight of the night was Banafsheh who was amazing to watch. She danced fluidly enough to be part of the music. She depicted the ultimate Persian woman. She moved perfectly in circles for an entire three minutes without a flaw, resembling the whirling dervishes of Sufism who spin in a trance to reach the point of perfect meditation.

Sadaf Baghbani

Red Magazine, Salt Lake City


Prayer #7, a breathtaking trance dance by Banafsheh and the two dancers of her NAMAH, would be right at home in a modern dance concert. Though never touching, the dancers stayed in touch - with one another and some force that propelled them. Banafsheh's solo, Axis of Love impressed because of her pure and transparent response to the music as performed by a fabulous trio from Los Angeles, Pejman Hadadi, Javid Afsari Rad, and Brad Dutz whose work proved to be one of the evening's many musical highlights.

Rita Feliciano

SF Bay Guardian


Banafsheh, a font of exquisite perpetual motion, is a temple frieze come to life, a one woman whirling dervish, trance spinning to a glorious percussive track as she beckons us into her exotic world.

Victoria Looseleaf

Los Angeles Times


With brilliantly played drums ZARBANG built a richly colored surface for the many-faced dance of Banafsheh who has the ability to combine different traditional roots to create one expression of dance and movement. Her uniquely fluid and supple hands and arm movements fit perfectly to the crystal clear and transparent sounds of Javid Afsari Rad’s Santur.

Stefan Franzen

Badische Zeitung, Germany


Banafsheh has mastered the lore of traditional Persian, flamenco and Tai Chi movement.

Lewis Segal

Los Angeles Times


Banafsheh's 'Prayer #7' was interesting to look at. The stylized and syncopated bowing, spinning and trance-like hair-tossing of 3 black clad women had variations that became mesmerizing.

Jennifer Fisher

Los Angeles Times


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, Franklin Canyon Park, CA 2016


"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, MD, Student, Spain


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, Yaa Wali, Germany 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


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


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, Menla Retreat Center, NY 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, 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


Therapeutic, but much more FUN than therapy!


Dina Hamdy, Integral Yoga Institute, NYC 2015


Banafsheh’s body moved in a trance, exuding a supernatural power as the vortex which seemed to take the submitting body higher and higher became really perceptible. At the end, in a spectacular finale she improvised on a Flamenco rhythm, and dance movements from the Middle East merged together with Iberian gestures.

Stefan Franzen

Badische Zeitung, Germany


Banafsheh and NAMAH shone brilliantly at the Festival of Iranian Theater in Hamburg. They presented a stirring fusion of traditional Persian dance with magnetic Sufi spinning and the powerful stomping of flamenco to an enthusiastic crowd.

Houshang Mahmood

The London Keyhan


If the television show, 'Are You Hot?' had a fraction of the heat that choreographer-dancer Banafsheh and her all female NAMAH generated at Japan America Theater, the show would have been a hit. Talk about sensual: Iranian- born, locally based Banafsheh, a purveyor of trance dancing and unabashed hair tossing, presented 'En/trance', two hours of exotic music and dance that fused ancient forms with postmodern punch. Most numbers were accompanied by ZARBANG, led by the extraordinary Pejman Hadadi, who opened with a blistering 50-minute set. Banafsheh continuously brought down the packed house with theatrical flair. Soraya Soltani's flowing chiffon and velvet harem-like costumes - including veils that would make Salome jealous -helped amp up the startlingly beautiful whirling dervish moves.

Victoria Looseleaf

Los Angeles Times


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


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


Banafsheh presented a complete evening filled with spiritual mystery replete with wisdom and virtuosic dance technique, with special attention to improvisation. This very fulfilling evening took the audience through seven stages of a long and far-reaching journey filled with wishing, hope, enthusiasm, search and many trials to reach union. In this spiritual journey, prayer had a big role. All this was presented in a beautiful form influenced by Eastern practice and ancient thought yet expressed with modernism. Banafsheh and her ensemble are in a very solid place to have been invited to present the Persian sacred tradition in the context of the World Festival of Sacred Music, sharing their message of unification and humane understanding. We hail Banafsheh Sayyad, Pejman Hadadi and Hossein Behroozi- Nia.

Houshang Mahmood
A weekly Los Angeles Persian Magazine

Javanan


The three women from NAMAH wove gentle curlicues in space, indulged in unisons on the diagonal and articulated extremities in a manner that suggested the symmetries of some species of American modern dance. The music making, which featured composer Pejman Hadadi on Tombak, Daf and frame drums; Brad Dutz on Nagara and percussion, and Javid Afsari Rad on Santur, was downright bewitching.

Allan Ulrich

Voice of Dance


Pejman Hadadi and Brad Dutz’s musical backing was the perfect accompaniment for the elegant whirling of lead dancer Banafsheh and her talented ensemble.

Don Heckman

Los Angeles Times


"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


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, 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, 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, Lincoln Center, NYC 2013


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


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


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, CSUN, CA 2013


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

 

Joan Englander, Student, Ojai


Beautiful, meditative movement...Banafsheh is very ambitious in developing a new language, extending the dance into other areas and combining the miniature and Sama dance forms.

 

The San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival Committee


"Banafsheh has inspired my dance soul once again. I had lost my passion for the dance when I experienced a trauma in my life, but because of her It has been restored. She is my favorite dancer of all times, as I can see that she is One with the Dancer of the Universe. I first loved Isadora Duncan, as she was the same."

Jasmine Bonk, workshop participant, Los Angeles


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


"Banafsheh is Rumi incarnate!"

Hilary Henson, Student, CA


"Banafsheh’s strength, grace and intimate love simply moves a person’s soul into new union with the Divine beyond any traditional understanding."

 

Johnnie Anthony, Student, Canada