Anahid Sofian studied ballet with Mary Clare Sale, formerly of the NYC Ballet, and modern dance with Bella Lewitsky and Erich Hawkins. She performed with the Richard Oliver Modern Dance Company in Los Angeles, and in
participated in Tina Croll and James Cunningham's The Horses Mouth Greets the New Millennium at the Danspace Project of St. Mark's Church.
She also studied jazz with Luigi and Afro-Cuban
with Sevilla Forte.
Middle Eastern Dance
In the Sixties, Ms. Sofian's interests turned to dances of the Middle East and she is internationally recognized as one of the most versatile and innovative artists in the field. Self-trained by observing and working with the Middle Eastern dancers, musicians and communities in New York
and abroad, Ms. Sofian was one of the pioneers in taking Oriental Dance out of the nightclub and onto the concert stage. She has performed both as soloist and with her company in such mainstream venues as The Museum of Modern Art Sculpture Garden, the United Nations, the Uris Theatre on Broadway and Carnegie Hall, and was the first oriental dancer to be accepted into the New York Dance Festival at the Delacorte Theatre in
. She has also been hired to curate numerous performances including the Middle Eastern Festivals held at Town Hall in New York.
Ms. Sofian has been the recipient of grants from NYSCA and the NY State CAPS program and a residency at the Dance Theatre of Harlem, where she participated in a Choreography Workshop directed by Bessie Schonberg. Working with members of the DTH Workshop Ensemble for seven months, Ms. Sofian created two dances fusing ballet and oriental dance. One piece for six dancers was based on Middle Eastern rhythms; a second dance, choreographed to a classical Arabic song performed on piano and kanoun (a zither-like oriental instrument) was a balletic duet for two girls utilizing veils. Both were included at a DTH Open House performance at Aaron Davis Hall, CUNY.
The CAPS grant enabled special study of Armenian dance. Of Armenian descent, Ms. Sofian grew up learning Armenian dances and listening to Middle Eastern music. Her lecture-demonstration, "Solo Dance of Armenian Women: A Comparative Study," has been featured at the Museum of Natural History and the Anthropology Museum of the People of New York at Queens College.
Ms. Sofian established her studio in New York
in 1972, where she offers instruction on regional styles, choreography, structured improvisation, costume making, and music and rhythms for the dance. Her classes are structured after classical dance and include a thorough warm-up designed for the needs of Middle Eastern dancers. The curriculum includes levels from Basic Beginner to Professional, special topics workshops, and an annual week-long intensive geared to professional dancers and teachers. Ms. Sofian also teaches master classes and workshops for the Middle Eastern Dance community throughout the U.S.
and Brazil. At the college level, she has taught at Hunter
College, Sara Laurence College, NYU and at The New School University in New York.