On Sunday My 3rd, 2015 the Niosha Dance Academy did 2 things at once. It celebrated its 24th anniversary and performed the annual showcase of 32 traditional and modern dances, by 70 dancers wearing 28 intricate regional and original costumes, mostly for the parents of the kids who attend the academy, but also for the thorough enjoyment of the general Iranian-American community in the Bay Area.
Ironically, the NDA show has now become somewhat of an Iranian tradition in it's own right, delivering a much needed reaffirmation of traditional Iranian dance and culture to those of us in the diaspora hungry for home. The NDA show is simply, where we go (at least) once a year to see our beautiful children, perform beautiful dances, and remind us of our beautiful country. It is for lack of a better word, priceless.
If your heart cannot take seeing darling 3 year olds belly dancing, or if you suffer from an allergy to a Caspian sea of smiling Iranian girls, or do not like to clap and head-bob along with great sounding Iranian music, an NDA show is probably not the best thing for your health. But if you do, it is the absolutely the best thing for your health.
Especially this year though, there seems to have been a factor and paradigm shift in the NDA universe of dances. One benefit of working with a large group of dancers and supportive parents and dedicated volunteers it seems, encourages fresh ideas for new dances to come forth. A newly self-choreographed piece "Ab-o-Atash" (Fire & Water/Ice) performed by the best top dancers in the elite NDA Performance Team, tells a story, conveys emotion, introduces strange ideas, and is an obvious conversation as told through the wonder of dance. It has turned this year's audience on its head and was wildly received. You know it's a phenomenon if people are still talking about it days afterward. Aficionados of Iranian dance have been excited to see this dance, and everyone hails it as a much anticipated step forward. Pushing the envelope of traditional and Iranian modern dance dangerously ahead, especially by a very large inch, is a very big deal to us.
The bad news is that if you weren't there, you missed the show. The good news is that especially from the reception that Ab-o-Atash has received, there are plans now to repeat perform "Unity", sometime this September, possibly during the traditional Fall celebration of Mehregan and the Autumnal Equinox, marking the last days of Summer.
Stay tuned, and stay Iranian.