Monday, August 14, 2006

About Our International Team Members

Our pilot program includes Humanities students and artists from the United States. Our future goal is to expand our international student team to include young scholars from many countries.

Aliah Lynn Najmabadi, is a first generation Iranian-American. Her academic and artistic career focus is the preservation of the performing arts of Central Asia, Iran and the Diaspora. She has been a principal dancer with Ballet Afsaneh since the spring of 1998 and has served as Assistant Director. Aliah was a TDI team member in 2006 and returned this summer to continue work with the TDI project. In 2005 Aliah completed a BAACS sponsored artist residency at Padida Dance Theater in Tajikistan and returned there independently this spring of 2007 to continue her dance training with master teacher Sharofat Rashidova. Aliah holds a B.A. degree in both Iranian Studies and World Arts and Cultures from UCLA and is presently pursuing a Mmus Performance degree with a focus on Central Asian Dance at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in the United Kingdom. Aliah is deeply touched by the open hearts of the people of Badakshan and is honored to have returned this year as a TDI team member.
  • Aliah Najmabadi: More on the web.

  • Sonja Hinz is a graduate student in dance ethnology at the University of Hawaii and is working on her M.A. thesis on dance and spirituality in Tajikistan. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Western Washington University. As a dancer, she has worked with Shourangeez Persian Ensemble, Dar Salaam Moroccan Band, and Banat Sahar, all based in the Seattle-area of Washington State. The austere beauty and humbling grandeur of the Pamirs makes Sonja keep pinching herself, “Am I really here or have I been transported to paradise?”
  • Check out Sonja and Andy's Blog for more adventures.

  • Will Sumit is a student of the musical traditions of the Islamic world, and is currently a PhD candidate in the Ethnology department at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. He has a Masters degree in Central Asian Languages from the University of Washington and has conducted fieldwork n Central Asia and North Africa. His current research focuses on the medieval musical traditions of Herat and Bukhara in Central Asia, but he maintains a strong interest in the musical traditions of many other parts of the Islamic world from Morocco to Chinese Central Asia. His knowledge of Central Asian musical traditions, and his extensive experience in on-location field recording, has helped contribute to the success of TDI in our 2007 field expeditions.

    Tara Pandeya joined Ballet Afsaneh in 1997 and she currently performs as a principal dancer and soloist with the company. She has studied dance and music from Central Asia, India and the Middle East. Tara has traveled throughout India, the Middle East and Europe and has a great passion for linguistics. She has studied Arabic at the Language Institute of Fez, Morocco and completed Arabic courses at U.C. Berkeley. She also holds a teaching credential in English as a Second language. Tara is in her last year at Saint Mary’s College where she is pursuing a B.A. degree in international relations and dance through the LEAP program (Liberal Education for Dance Professionals). She teaches Central Asian dance classes for the BAACS community outreach programs of the Bay Area. Along with working on the TDI Humanities Link project in Khorog, she will also participate in a summer dance residency program in Dushanbe, Tajikistan at Padida Theater. Tara is grateful to have her wildest dreams realized by traveling to Tajikistan and being exposed to such rich and diverse traditional, dance, music and poetry from Badakhshan.
  • Interview with Tara Pandeya on the California Arts Council website
  • California Arts Council artist listing for Tara Pandeya

  • Andy Rick was born and raised in Minnesota. In 1996 he moved to Washington State where he received his bachelors in Communication from the University of Puget Sound in 2000. In 2003 he earned a degree in Audio Production from the Art Institute of Seattle. Most recently, Andy has taken up residency in Honolulu, Hawaii where his fiancée, Sonja Hinz, is earning her masters degree. Andy has found the culture of Badakhshan to be full of true hospitality and beautiful art.

    Part time 2007 team member Heather Rastovac is based in Seattle, Washington and has been studying various forms of Near Eastern dance since 1997. Heather performs the folkloric and classical dance forms of Iran, Kurdistan, the Arabian Peninsula, Turkey , North Africa and the Balkans.
    Heather's primary focus with dance is to contribute to cultural education. She is currently pursuing a double major in Cultural Anthropology and Near Eastern Language and Civilization (with a focus on Persian language and literature) and a minor in dance at the University of Washington. She plans to obtain a Master's Degree in Performance Studies with a focus on the Near East and Central Asia.
  • Visit Heather's Blog

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