Classes - Ballet Afsaneh - Afsaneh Art and Culture Society - Persian dance - afghan dance - Silk Road - ethnic dance - world dance music
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Meet our Teachers

Sharlyn

Sharlyn Sawyer

Sharlyn is the founding Artistic Director of Afsaneh Art & Culture Society - Ballet Afsaneh. Considered a pioneer in world dance she has choreographed and produced dozens of new works of the highest quality featuring dance, poetry and music in resonance with universal ideas. Her work melds ancient art forms with modern dance and theater in a unique, richly imagistic approach. Sharlyn is the creator of what has come to be known as the "Afsaneh" style Persian dance, emulated by dancers the world over. Her knowledge of traditional dance and creative passion have enabled her to make significant contributions to the art form at a critical time in history, both directly as a dance artist/choreographer/director, and through the ongoing legacy of her many students.

Since founding Ballet Afsaneh in 1986 she has been honored with many prestigious grant awards, established ongoing cultural exchanges with Central Asia, created performances for the British Museum and choreographed performances for the Aga Khan, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, Cabrillo Music Festival, and SF Ethnic Dance Festival. She is the recipient of numerous achievement awards from Persian, Afghan and Turkish cultural organizations.
Sharlyn describes herself as a life-long student.

Hannah Romanowsky

Hannah Romanowsky

Hannah Romanowsky, M.A. East-West Psychology, California Institute of Integral Studies. B.A. Dance Ethnology, Minor in World Music, San Francisco State University. Founder of DanceVersity World Dance for Youth arts education program. Ms. Romanowsky is a classically-trained professional performing artist and dance educator who draws her aesthetic impulse from a diverse background in both Eastern and Western dance traditions. Principal Artist with Ballet Afsaneh for many years and founding member of the ethno-contemporary company Wan-Chao Dance, she has performed multiple times in San Francisco's esteemed Ethnic Dance Festival, as well as the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the British Museum in London, the Roof of the World Festival in the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan, and at theaters and festivals in China and India. While in Tajikistan in 2011, Hannah was an Artist-in-Residence at the Padida Dance Theater of Dushanbe and trained with some of the most highly regarded masters of Tajik dance. She is a beloved instructor known for her personal warmth, breadth of knowledge, and elegant, graceful style. Hannah is one of the foremost proponents of "Afsaneh" style Persian dance.

Hannah Romanowsky
Aisan

Aisan H.

Aisan - B.A. in Dance Theater, Trinity Laban Conservetoire London; M.F.A. Dance Performance and Choreography, Mills College Oakland; BSc Business Management, University of Tehran.

Aisan H. began dancing as a young girl in Iran with her teacher, Haideh Kishapour a former principal soloist with Iran's Mahali Dancers. She performed with Haideh's newly formed dance company, and began teaching herself. Aisan went on to pursue a BA degree in modern dance from Trinity Laban Conservetoire of Music and Dance in London.
Currently Aisan lives in the Bay Area where she just graduated from Mills College with an MFA degree in dance performance and choreography. As part of her degree program at Mills College, Aisan performs as a featured soloist, guest choreographer and teacher with Ballet Afsaneh.

Aisan

Mariana Rose

Mariana Rose joined Ballet Afsaneh in 2014. She performs with the company as a principal dancer and collaborating choreographer. A certified Silvestre Technique Instructor, Mariana has trained intensively with master teachers Rosangela Silvestre and Vera Passos since 2007 and was certified as a Silvestre Technique Instructor in 2009. She currently teaches in the SF Bay Area, and continues to return to Salvador Bahia to assistantant teach and refine her own understanding of contemporary dance. She is also a new member of the Afro-Cuban Modern dance company, Alayo.  As a teacher, Mariana focusses on integrating healthy body mechanics through presence and intention. As a dancer and choreographer she is is inspired by symbolism and essence.

Mariam Gaibova

Mariam Gaibova

Mariam Gaibova emigrated to the Bay Area in 2009 from Dushanbe, Tajikistan, where she was lead soloist and principal dancer with Padida Dance Theater directed by Habibullo Abdurazakov and Sharofat Rashidova. She was a lead actress in Mohsen Makhmalbaf's film "Sex & Philosophy", has appeared in Tajik and Kazakh feature films, and tours internationally with Tajik singing star Shabnam Sorayo. A resident of London, England since 2014, during her visits to the Bay Area Mariam is a featured soloist with Ballet Afsaneh, and specializes in teaching traditional Central Asian styles of dance.

Mariam Gaibova
Emelie Mahdavian

Emelie Mahdavian

Emelie Mahdavian, Assistant Director of Ballet Afsaneh. PhD candidate, Performance Studies & M.A. Comparative Literature, UC Davis; Postgraduate Diploma, Filmmaking, London International Film School; B.A., Music Theory/History & Philosophy, Mills College.
Emelie is a lifelong musician and dancer, extensively trained in classical and jazz music, ballet, modern, and musical theater dance styles. She is currently studying Persian classical singing and poetry, and has been the recipient of several prestigious research grants. She has travelled extensively in Tajikistan and is the Producer, Director, and Editor of a feature-length documentary entitled "After the Curtain" about female dancers in Tajikistan. She has danced with Ballet Afsaneh for six years, and specializes in Shash Maqam and styles that pair music, dance, and poetry.

 

Emelie Mahdavian
Kristen Sague

Kristen Sague

BFA in Modern Dance & Choreography, focus in Dance Ethnography, University of Michigan, 2006. Certificates: Cuba: Folkloric & Afro-Cuban Modern Study/Performance, NYU 2003; Ghana: Arts & Cultures Field Work Program, The School for International Training, 2005; Kathak Dance (Mata Prasad Mishri) and Indian Violin Technique, University of Michigan in Varanasi, India 2006. Solo ethnographic study: Social Dances & Music in Areas of Conflict, Palestine 2003. A trained classical violinist, ballerina, modern dancer, and visual artist, Kristen combines her extensive technical artistic training with her international dance ethnographic studies. She has worked with Arenas Afro-Cuban Dance, Ballet Afsaneh, Shahrzad Dance Company, and was one of the first members of ethno-contemporary group Wan-Chao Dance. In 2011 she travelled to Tajikistan with Ballet Afsaneh where she studied with renowned choreographers, performed, and completed field research in Badakhshan. Kristen teaches Central Asian technique and creates ethno-contemporary choreography.

Miriam Peretz
Miriam Peretz

Miriam Peretz

Miriam Peretz is an internationally acclaimed performing artist and dance instructor. A principal dancer, featured soloist and lead instructor with Ballet Afsaneh since 1998, Miriam served as Assistant Artistic Director for five years. In 2009 she co-founded the Afsaneh Dance Academy with Sharlyn Sawyer. Miriam's love of dance has led her on an extraordinary life long journey that has taken her throughout the Middle East and to her original birthplace, Israel where she was a principal dancer with Inbal Ethnic Dance Theater in Tel Aviv. Miriam also created and directed the “Miriam’s Well project”, an interfaith performance collaboration exploring sacred dance, music, and spirituality.
She has a reputation for being a highly dynamic and inspiring instructor, offering students the opportunity for self-growth, personal healing and intense physical challenge.  She sees dance as a uniquely powerful means of expressing deep emotion and spiritual yearning, and the perfect embodiment of prayer.
Miriam specializes in dances from the Silk Road (Persia and Central Asia), Middle-East, North Africa, Roma "Gypsy" trail, and Sacred Dance/Dance Midrash. miriamdance.com

 

Miriam Peretz
Photo Credit:
Juan Carlos Bettancourt, Brian McMahon, Shalom Ormsby, Robertino Regazza, Raymond Van Tassel,

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