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In Remembrance of Cyrus the Great

by Amil Imani

( It happened on January 26, 2008, at the UCLA Freud PlayHouse in Los Angeles, California. It brought the world's most renowned scholars and top performing artists together to remember the life of Cyrus the Great, the founding father of Persia and the mighty Persian Empire - perhaps the most exemplary, magnificent and just king the world has ever known.

The event put together visual arts, the ambiance of the theater, and the inspirational young and beautiful Anna Djanbazian’s dancers (who, in precise rows, executed perfectly harmonious and breathtaking dances). The entertainment continued with delightful music by the legendary Iranian pop singer Dariush, who selflessly and quickly accepted the offer to perform without any compensation for this noble cause. And the same goes for the always magnificent, Oscar-nominated composer, vocalist and performance artist, the beautiful Sussan Deyhim.

The evening was cultivated by an impresario of Persian archeology, the adventurous explorer and film maker of our ancient past, and simply an Iranian hero, Cyrus Kar himself. He lured and captivated the audience for a mystical night of remembering Cyrus the Great.

The Iranian communities around the world are grateful and appreciative when singers, dancers, performers and artists are willing to set aside their time and perform freely to promote justice and freedom. We hope to see more and more Iranian artists participating in this kind of gathering. ”An artist is not paid for his labor, but for his vision,” said James MacNeill Whistler.

It all began like a lyrical poem, evolving into a contemplative national epic. In the ancient tradition of historical epics, all the elements were perfectly matched to the image of the inspirational melody.

The opening ceremony started with the Mistress of Ceremonies, Nazanin Afshin-Jam, the charming and beautiful singer, songwriter and international human rights activist. She was also Miss World Canada. Beyond a doubt, her presence lent a sense of euphoria and excitment to the entire ceremony.

And finally, the very gracious audience - they came from near and far to gather for what every Iranian understands: the need to recognize and preserve our national heritage from the ravages of time and calamities of the present ruling regime in Iran. They came to support their fellow Iranian, Cyrus Kar, who has been painstakingly trying to make a documentary film about the life of the benevolent king, Cyrus the Great.

There were many distinguished and honorable speakers who contributed to this event, as well. The first was Dr. David Stronach, the renowned Scottish archaeologist of ancient Iran and Iraq. He is currently a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Also speaking were Dr. Jennifer Rose, Professor at Stanford University, Dr. Abbas Milani, an Iranian-American historian and author, and Professor Mark D. Rosenbaum, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Los Angeles, where he has worked since 1974.

What the Islamic Republic's despotic rulers have set out to do is defeat the Iranian spirit inside Iran and extinguish Cyrus’ spirit around the world, through brainwashing, coercion and terrorist acts. It has given Cyrus Kar all the more impetus to recreate and show the world who and what Cyrus the Great truly was: the embodiment of the human spirit. This documentary is in its final stages and is in dire need of your support.

It is ironic that a man whom the Jews called “Messiah” and who died 2,500 years ago can be a threat to the very existence of the current brutal, un-Iranian Islamic regime. The Islamic Republic of Iran seems to be fearful both of the dead and the living. Yet, Iran has survived despite her enemies, the course of innumerable wars, invasions, pillages and captivity at the hands of barbaric tribes, and in spite of being forced into an un-Iranian religion.

Our message to the world is clear. We, the diverse people of Iran, are descendants of an optimistic, enlightened and positive people. We are the children of Cyrus the Great. We meet any challenge and pay any price to defeat tyranny, and we will not rest until Iran is completely free of the despotic rule of Islamofascism.

Southland troupes to receive Lester Horton Dance Awards
Recipients of the annual Lester Horton Awards include the Djanbazian and Backhausdance companies and Francisco Martinez.

By Lynne Heffley , Times Staff Writer, Times Staff Writer

The 16th annual Lester Horton Dance Awards, "Milestones — Los Angeles Dance," announced Sunday, honored an eclectic mix of companies, with an emphasis on contemporary works.

Presented by the Dance Resource Center of Greater Los Angeles and named after the locally based modern dance pioneer, the awards recognize excellence in all genres of concert dance in Southern California.

Outstanding achievement by a company went to the Djanbazian Dance Company for its multidisciplinary drama "Rumi: Path to Enlightenment," choreographed by artistic director Anna Djanbazian and inspired by the 13th century relationship between a wandering dervish and a Sufi mystic.

Jennifer Backhaus and her Orange County-based contemporary ensemble, Backhausdance, received awards for four separate works, including a short-form choreography nod for Backhaus' Latin ballroom-inspired "Love and Other Possibilities" and a revival, reconstruction, restaging award for her "Disintegration," 2001.

The award for long-form choreography went to Francisco Martinez of the veteran Francisco Martinez Dancetheatre for "Té Verde."

In the category of music for dance, "Synergy," a program of premieres by the contemporary ensembles Regina Klenjoski Dance Company and Trip Dance Theatre, earned honors for composers Ron Bartlett, Charlie Campagna and Moira Smiley.

Special awards, previously announced, were given to Andrei Tremaine, a choreographer and former Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo dancer; choreographer and dance historian Allegra Fuller Snyder; the late Alfred Desio, creator of the Colburn Kids Tap Ensemble and Zapped Taps; and Ann Haskins, dance writer for LA Weekly.

Also acknowledged were dance companies with 25 years or more of continuous professional participation in performance, leadership and service to the Los Angeles community.

The list of winners:

Choreography, long form: Francisco Martinez ("Té Verde 'Danza Brasileira' "), Francisco Martinez Dancetheatre

Choreography, short form: Jennifer Backhaus ("Love and Other Impossibilities"), Backhausdance

Performance, company: Djanbazian Dance Company ("Rumi: Path to Enlightenment")

Performance, male: Carlos Rodriguez ("La Hora de Salir"), Oni Dance

Performance female: Jean Michelle Sayeg ("Té Verde"), Martinez Dancetheatre

Production of a festival or series: Jamie Nichols ("Celebrate Dance 2006," Alex Theatre)

Performance, small ensemble: Andrea Brache, Andrew Cook and William Lu ("eXit" ), Backhausdance

Music for dance: Ron Bartlett, Charlie Campagna and Moira Smiley ("Synergy"), Trip Dance Theatre and Regina Klenjoski Dance Company

Costume design: Elias Roldan ("Arriba Jalisco: A Gritos"), Grandeza Mexicana Folk Ballet Company

Set design: Brock Cilley ("The Cage"), Marie de la Palme, choreographer and dancer

Lighting design: Monique L'Heureux ("La Jupe") Backhausdance

Revival, reconstruction, restaging: Jennifer Backhaus ("Disintegration," 2001)
Executive Producer Jamie Nichols presents CELEBRATE DANCE 2006 for one night only at the historic Alex Theatre in Glendale, California, Saturday, March 25th at 8:00pm. Nichols’ penchant for selecting dance companies of various genres has proven successful with the multiple Lester Horton Dance Awards and nominations garnered by the companies she has produced the past three years at the Alex Theater. Having been Artistic Director of her own contemporary dance company Fast Feet for twenty-three years, Nichols understands the need for dance companies to present work in a professional atmosphere and her mission is to provide dance companies with a world-class venue, present enlightening & entertaining premieres to the diverse Los Angeles public and offer affordable ticket prices for all ages.

CELEBRATE DANCE 2006 will be an exceptional event presenting seven companies & choreographers celebrating diversity in ballet, jazz, modern and contemporary dance idioms. Nichols brings to The Alex Theatre a bevy of gifted artists and their premieres including: Backhausdance - a vibrant contemporary company will ignite with a hot and lively Latin piece - winner of three 2004 Lester Horton Dance Awards and recently The Dance Under The Stars Choreography Festival ‘05 in Palm Desert, Djanbazian Dance Company winner of four Horton Awards in 2004 and two Grand Prix Italia ‘05 Awards - blend exceptional ballet and modern skills with traditional dance flavor featuring the “phenomenal” Arsen Serobian.
Jazz Antiqua Dance & Music Ensemble directed by Pat Taylor celebrates the African American roots of the jazz tradition with visceral jazz dance and powerful enticing choreography, San Pedro City Ballet nominated for 2004 Horton Award for Performance Company will bring Silence to the stage with sixteen dancers in a tribute to 9/11danced to the music of Ligeti and Khachturian and Pennington Dance Group led by veteran Lewitzky Dance Company member and renowned choreographer/teacher John Pennington offers modern dance of highest caliber influenced by the Bella Lewitzky legacy.
Nichols will give Los Angeles the debut of two contemporary ballet companies from San Francisco: Liss Fain Dance with the compelling The Line Between Night & Day performed to music by Messiaen and Viktor Kabaniaev and Dancers dancing the de-constructed duet White Light fused with the music of Arvo Part. Kabaniaev from St. Petersburg, Russia and former dancer with Eifman Ballet, was awarded “First Laureate” at the 3rd International Serge Diahgilev Competition for Choreographers in Poland ’04 and most recently “Grand Prize” at The Dance Under The Stars Choreography Festival ‘05 in Palm Desert.


WHAT: Anna Djanbazian, multiple Lester Horton Award 2004 winning choreographer and recent recipient of two Dance Grand Prix Italia 2005 awards, will premiere her latest full evening contemporary dance theatre piece RUMI: PATH TO ENLIGHTENMENT at the Ralph Freud Playhouse at UCLA on Saturday January 7th and Sunday January 8th 2006 at 8:00pm. The meeting of the mystics, poets and philosophers Molana Jalaleddin Rumi & Shams Tabrizi in the 13th century has inspired Djanbazian’s contemporary dance theatre work in two-acts. Djanbazian has woven a theatrical movement tapestry of rich and sensual harmony using the exceptional abilities of the Djanbazian Dance Company, guest artist Johnathan Sharp as RUMI, threaded with other guest artists including: vocalist Shahla Sarookhani, musicians Mehrdad Naghibian & Kamran Aghtaee, improvisational movement signer Mary Lee Sanders, poetry recitation by Keowa Li Newell and Rumi’s mystical words.

Molana Jalaleddin Rumi was a theologian and scholar of traditional methods, but after meeting the enigmatic spiritual friend and teacher “the wild holy man” Shams, Rumi experienced a divine transformation and began his extraordinary work. He conceived thousands of ghazals (a form of Persian poetry), couplets and quatrains all influenced by the mystifying relationship with Shams who without explanation vanished leaving an indelible impression on Rumi.

Rumi has inspired artists, seekers of truth and those walking the path of enlightenment with his words, thoughts and mystic connotations. Anna Djanbazian will inspire the viewer with RUMI: PATH TO ENLIGHTENMENT by weaving live percussion, singing, poetry recitation, improvisational movement signing and the divine language of the human soul through her art of contemporary dance laced with her traditional expertise.

“Dance as though no one is watching
Love, as though you’ve never been hurt before,
Sing, as though no one can hear you,
Work, as though you don’t need the money,
Live, as though heaven is on Earth.”
Molana Jalaleddin Rumi
Lester Horton Award winning choreographer Anna Djanbazian’s Search for Enlightenment
October 25, 2005

Dear Dance Enthusiast and Supporter of The Arts,

The Djanbazian Dance Foundation’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce the 2006 premier of Lester Horton Award winning choreographer Anna Djanbazian’s Search for Enlightenment (a working title), on January 7th, 2006 at 8:00 P.M. and January 8th at 7:00 P. M. at UCLA’s Freud Playhouse.

The meeting of the philosophers, mystics and poets, Rumi and Shams in the 13th century, has inspired Djanbazian to create the two-act contemporary dance event that will include: contemporary choreography danced by the Djanbazian Dance Company and guest dancers, live music with vocalist Shahla Sarookhani, video projections, spoken word, and singing.

An evening of this tremendous proportion not only involves research, artistic skill and innovative choreography but monetary support to make it come to life on stage with a cast of skilled dancers, musicians, a fine technical staff, exquisite costumes and brilliant lighting to enhance the work presented. Since public funding for the arts is at the lowest it has ever been, your generous contribution to Djanbazian Dance Foundation (DDF) will help support this important cultural event and the future of DDF.

The Djanbazian Dance Foundation as a non-profit cultural organization has a mission to promote the development of the art of dance by producing and organizing unique, diverse, educational and cultural programs. The goals of DDF is to breakdown the cultural barriers among the youth, build a positive experience and provide special events that will bring a greater appreciation among various cultural patrons. Search for Enlightenment (a working title), as a premier event presented at UCLA’s Freud Playhouse on January 7th and 8th of 2006, will reach beyond the goals of DDF by offering a high caliber evening of contemporary dance created by master choreographer, Anna Djanbazian

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