by Andrea Pflaumer, San Francisco Examiner
Shahrzad Khorsandi and Farima Berenji, both Bay Area performers of Iranian descent, are on a special mission to preserve the spiritual heritage of Persian dance.
“I always danced informally. It’s so much woven into the culture. In my family we’d just grab a pot or pan and bang on it and start singing our folk songs. And everybody would dance,” says Iranian-born dancer Khorsandi, whose unique contemporary Persian dance includes quintessential Persian movements that are informed by training in other dance cultures.
Berenji, who has degrees in art history, anthropology, archeology and performance, showcases dances of ancient Persia with rich meaning and transcendence.
This weekend, both appear at ODC Theater in the latest installment of its “Dance and Diaspora” series. They are accompanied by musicians Saman Mahmoudi on santoor and Samandar Dehghani on percussion.
Berenji approaches Persian dance with the passion of a historian.
“Due to the lure of technology and city life, the ancient nomadic dances are rapidly disappearing,” she says. “But if we have saved them for 5,000 years, the younger generation can do so for the next 100 years.”
While preserving the culture, she discovered mystical meanings in dances associated with Persian poetry and art.