Anahld Sofian suffered a knee Injury In the late 1960s that almost ended her
dance career, but visiting Greek nightclubs in Manhattan helped her discover
Middle Eastern dance.

Ms. Sofian, who was trained In ballet, would go home and break down the
movements. It's a natural way of moving, contrary to ballet, she said. "What
began as a form of physical therapy turned into a passion."

This year, at 78, she celebrated her company's 35th anniversary with a
retrospective that induded Moroccan tribal dances. The two-day show, in late
June, cost just $28,000, as she used costumes and choreography collected
over time. Her students helped with an Indiegogo fundraislng campaign that
garnered close to $3,000.

Ms. Sofian's Middle Eastern dance career began with her moonlighting as a
belly dancer at clubs in the city. In 1972, she used $8,000 in savings and
severance from her job as an editorial associate at Saturday Review to open a
studio in her apartment on West 15th Street.

A trip to the Folkloric Dance Festival In Marrakech, Morocco, inspired her to
establish her company, which she debuted In 1979, the same year she
showcased a suite of dances, including Moroccan and Turkish works, at
Webster Hall.

She has since danced or presented her pieces at the Museum of Modern Art,
the Riverside Dance Festival and Carnegie Hall. She was the first ethnic dancer
to perform in the New York Dance Festival, and her activities have included
teaching street break-dancers a Gnawa dance. Her choreography showcases
"astonishing flights of rhythmic imagination," The Village Voice wrote.

Already planning her next retrospective, Ms. Softan said, "if no one hires me, I
go out and create my own event. I'm not going to wait"


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