Even the "interpretive"
work, which veered from the traditional display-oriented material to tell
a story, did this so passionately and directly that decades of dance experimentation
came to seem so many dead ends. Sofian and her dancers evoked the bazaar,
the nightclub, the harem - and also something essentially female, essentially
powerful, that transcends the mercantile.
(Elizabeth Zimmer, Dance Magazine)
The Anahid Sofian Dance Company was formed in 1979 and made its professional debut at Carnegie Hall as part of the New York Ethnic Dance Festival. Comprised of 12 dancers and 6 musicians, the Company specializes in dances of the Near and Middle East and has been acclaimed for its ability to perform in a wide range of styles, from the traditional to contemporary interpretations. All Company dancers have studied extensively with Ms. Sofian and became members by invitation.
Ms. Sofian's vision integrates artistic elements found in ballet, modern dance and contemporary music in new ways that express and broaden the traditional forms without sacrificing their integrity or intrinsic values. This combination makes the Company's repertory unique and original. Inspiration is drawn from the rich diversity of Middle Eastern cultures. Dances include many variations on Raqs Sharqi, known in the West as "bellydance" and found throughout the Near and Middle East, from the dances of the gypsies of Turkey to the traditional Awalim style from Egypt. Folkloric dances include tribal dances from Morocco and women's dances from Armenia which reflect their grace and lyrical beauty. More contemporary pieces include a dance inspired by an old Greek song sung by Irini Pappas, and a dream-like interpretation of "Gazli," written and sung by the young Uzbeki star, Sevara Nazarkhan.
The Company has performed at a variety of venues including Avery Fisher Hall, the Theatre of Riverside Church, Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, the Cleveland Museum of Art, numerous lower Manhattan locations for the Downtown Dance Festival, and the Tribeca Performing Arts Center as part of Women's History Month, sponsored by the Borough of Manhattan Community College. For three years they were featured in festivals at Town Hall (1999, 2000 and 2003) and over the past ten years, they have been an annual favorite at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln
. The Company has premiered two acclaimed off-Broadway productions, Marrakech: Inside the Magic Circle at Baruch Performing Arts Center (2005; see The Morocco Project), and Passage through Light and Shadows: The Children of Ararat
at the Theatre of St. Clements Church (2010; see The Children of Ararat)
In the 40 years since its inception, the Company has been in the forefront of presenting dance and music of the Near and Middle East to New York audiences and has a very strong and diverse following, drawing not only from the many ethnic communities in the Tri-State area, but also from the general public.