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Meet Farima Berenji

Today we’d like to introduce you to Farima Berenji.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I grew up as an Iranian-American immersed in Persian and Azerbaijani culture and arts. Both my mother and grandmother were my main dance instructors and mentors. They were dancers, musicians, and poets.

From the time of my childhood, I knew I wanted to be an adventurer, an explorer, and an archaeologist to discover all about dance, its mysticism, and origins. The ancient rituals of the Persian Goddesses and the brave acts of the woman warriors fascinated me. I wanted to become them! Mystical and classical Persian poetry and the folk tales of legendary figures inspired me to become a dancer, and as time went on my interest broadened and deepened, so I pursued professional studies and increasingly focused upon research and writing.

Throughout my life, I have always sought challenges and have proven that I can surmount great obstacles. In 2007 I founded the first Persian dance collective, a worldwide community of dancers and musicians that seeks to interpret, research, present, and perform traditional classical, folkloric, and sacred dances of the Silk Road. Today the Simorgh Dance Collective as it is called is a world community of expert and emerging artists trained in traditional, classical, and sacred dance styles of the Silk Road. It currently has member companies and artist affiliations in Anchorage, Alaska, in Comox Valley, Vancouver, Victoria, Toronto, and Calgary, Canada and in Turkey, UK, Iran, and the San Francisco Bay Area. I am most proud to be the first Iranian woman director of a Persian dance company to perform during a U.S. presidential reception for President Obama. My dance performances have been viewed by foreign dignitaries such as EU and UN and world ambassadors, as well as great audiences worldwide. I have been honored with numerous awards in performing arts communities for excellence, cultural diplomacy, and preservation. I am a professional member of the International Dance Council (CID-UNESCO) and the National Folk Organization. Recently I became the first Iranian woman artist honored to be a 2018 TEDx dance speaker and performer.

Please tell us about your art.
Dance is my art and love. I perform lecture upon the culture and history of dance, choreography, and offer training in dance, especially the dances of the regions and cultures of the historic Silk Road. As a dance ethnologist, cultural anthropologist and archaeologist I believe in dance as a cultural identifier. The work of the Simorgh Dance Collective and I help present and build an awareness of the beauty of traditional Persian and Central Asian dance in a world today that ever threatens its existence in its land of origin. This art enriches the lives of those who trace their ancestry to these cultures while bringing beauty to our communities.

Recognized as one of the few world scholarly experts of ancient and mystical dance ethnology, I travel worldwide to record, research, educate, and inspire dynamic creativity and rejuvenation through dance and movement. A scholar of Eastern sacred and mystical dance, I help facilitate spiritual healing through dance and movement and travel the world to work with various institutions. My shamanic healing therapies are now in use in hospitals in Iran and the US.

My works include two special projects to connect dancers and participants with the sacred and the ancients. The Lioness project consists of the history, dance, music, costuming, sacred tours, and theatrical dance shows of Persian, Sumerian, Mesopotamian, and Near Eastern warrioresses and goddesses. My Dance of the Soul project brings Sufi whirling traditions, sacred geometry, the sacred elements, and ancient Persian rituals together as a gateway for self-growth and spiritual transformation.

As an artist, how do you define success and what quality or characteristic do you feel is essential to success as an artist?
In my dance, I strive to connect the soul and to the movement as an artist and not just a dancer. My desire among all my accomplishments is to bridge cultural gaps and create respect among all people through art, culture, and dance. Dance is a universal language that helps creates peace, love, harmony, and understanding among all people. Indeed, dance has created beauty and harmony in my life, and I hope that my teaching and performances can create beauty and harmony in the lives of others.

“Your body is the canvas; your movement is the brush, your soul is the artist, your dance becomes an art” ~Farima Berenji.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
The Simorgh Dance Collective groups worldwide learn and develop an appreciation of Silk Road art and cultures by engaging with expert and emerging artists who are devoted to its dance and music. We share this art and love with our local communities by presenting ethnic dances in traditional costume, educating in cultural lectures, and leading dance participations. Our dedicated members develop and share their talents in these presentations.

To see our work visit farimadance.com to view performance videos, or find and attend any Silk Road dance performance by the Simorgh Dance Collective among its worldwide locations. Contact me or visit farimadance.com if you would like to contribute.

Contact Info:

 

  • Website: www.farimadance.com
  • Phone: 14083865005
  • Email: farimadance@gmail.com; info@farimadance.com
  • Instagram: farima_dance
  • Facebook: Farima Berenji or Farima Dance (Artist Page)
  • Youtube: Farima Dance or Farima Berenji

  Image Credit:
Varol Ozkaner Photography
Selen Photography

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