Members of the Farima’s Comox Valley Simorgh Collective taken at a previous weekend training session at the Abbey Studio in Cumberland. Photo by Varol Ozkaner

Cumberland dance performance celebrates the women of the Silk Road

The Abbey Studio in Cumberland is hosting international dance artist and scholar Farima Berenji, on Friday, March 9.

Berenji will be showcasing traditional and classical dances from Persia and the Silk Road, and her Comox Valley dance collective, Simorgh, will be performing group pieces inspired by the women of those regions.

The night will also feature a Sufi whirling Sema gathering, open to all, after the performances. Under the guidance of Berenji, participants will be given whirling instruction with the opportunity to experience the Sema, complete with live musical accompaniment and sacred Sufi poetry.

This event takes place the day after International Women’s Day and is a remarkable way to celebrate the women of the world. International Women’s Day, officially acknowledged by the UN in 1975 in solidarity with women’s rights and contributions, is recognized by over 100 countries around the globe.

“When portraying ethnic dances of the Silk Road, the Simorgh Dance Collective recognizes the historic and cultural significance of women in their role toiling or celebrating family and community, as souls seeking the beauty of nature and spirit, or as legendary figures fighting and commanding for good,” said Berenji. “When [Simorgh] members learn the art of Silk Road dance, teamwork, problem solving, and an appreciation for international culture, it also helps empower them to share this art and principles in the story of dance, costume, and movement. The Simorgh Dance Collective praises the role of international women not just one day a year but each day. We are the dance warriors who keep the culture alive. We are the lionesses who keeps the women rituals alive.”

As an archeologist, anthropologist and dance ethnologist, much of Farima’s work is dedicated to The Lioness Project, researching the wisdom, costuming and dance of the ancient Amazons of Persia, Sumeria, Ionia and the Near East. Her mission is to share the hidden history of these ancient warrioresses with the world. As a Sufi and Magi (shaman), she brings her sacred healing technique not only to dance events and workshops, but also to hospitals in Iran and the United States.

The Simorgh Dance Collective is Farima’s worldwide collaboration with other traditional dancers and musicians, including a group of dancers in the Comox Valley who are dedicated to learning the artistry and history of the Silk Road. Using Farima’s teachings and choreographies, the collective frequently performs at various events throughout the Valley.

Doors for the dance performances at The Abbey open at 7:30 p.m. All ages are welcome. Admission is by donation. The Abbey is wheelchair accessible and seating considerations have been made to support those with mobility issues. Performances start at 8 p.m. and the Sema begins at 9. Please wear white or light clothing if you plan to attend the Sema.

The Abbey is located 2689 Penrith Ave. with the entrance on 1st Street. For more information call Cathy Stoyko at 250-218-0704, or email cdstoyko@uniserve.com.

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