Dance Preview: CROWN/ تاج

This Friday The Old Electric in Blackpool kicks off its season of live performances from visiting companies with the UK’s first touring production combining classical Persian and contemporary dance, and Sufi movement.

CROWN/ تاج is presented by Company Scheherazade and tells a story of displacement, identity, and body sovereignty to an original soundtrack of live classical music and electronica.

Using Persian miniatures, lived experience and the poetry of Forough Farrokhzad, three lead dancers take the audience on a journey from determination through struggle to release – finding courage, resilience, and joy along the way. It is the first time in the UK that classical Persian dance is performed in this way.

CROWN/ تاج is intended as “a celebration of the transformation which takes place when we realise home is within ourselves,” according to director Maria Tarokh, a British-Iranian dancer and founder of Company Scheherazade.

Classical Persian dance is illegal in Iran. The production is a way for us to share these art forms – which rely on us to keep them alive.

“CROWN/ تاج was created to challenge the narrative around refugees and asylum seekers, and to challenge people’s perceptions of home,” she says. “It’s also an opportunity to show the beauty of Iranian culture, which so often gets left out of the news.

“The production is a way for us to share these art forms – which rely on us to keep them alive – classical Persian dance being illegal in Iran. Above all, this show is a tribute to the joy, strength and resilience that all displaced people give to the world.”

Tarokh says CROWN/ تاج is a manifestation of female strength and an opportunity to reclaim what we lose through displacement. It encourages audiences to rethink and re-imagine how they see displaced female bodies and incorporates a sound installation and original musical score featuring electronic and classical Persian music.

Classical Persian dance is illegal in Iran where women cannot sing or dance in public. CROWN/ تاج hopes to breathe life into this genre and show how powerful it can be as a storytelling tool. While the female artists behind the production are not currently involved in the revolution in Iran, and it doesn’t attempt to depict this, it is made in solidarity with the people of Iran, and it explores themes relevant to the situation.

Alongside Tarokh, the women involved in the production include costume designer Iola Weir
and sound designer Somin Griffin-Dave. The production features music by Iranian-American
producer, ASADI and classical Persian music composed and performed by Ala Zarei and Anis
Alichi. Dance Artists are Ayesha Fazal (of Move Manchester & Sonia Sabri Company), Regine
Phua (of Northern School and Akram Khan) and Ghazal Seidi (of Rambert School).

The show is co-produced by Dartington Arts and commissioned by Counterpoints Arts. Supported with funding from Arts Council England.

CROWN/ تاج is at The Old Electric this Friday 23rd February at 7pm. There will be a Q&A following the performance. Tickets are £8 and can be purchased here.

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