About / Bio
Iranian-born 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.

Her mesmerizing offering of the timeless Divine Feminine inside a contemporary gypsy dervish beckons all to engage, serve, exalt and honor our 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. She recently performed at the closing night of the Festival of Sacred Arts in Madrid at Teatros del Canal. Her 2011 dance film In the Fire of Grace with author and scholar, Andrew Harvey traces Rumi’s journey of the Soul in dance.
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