Parya is a graduate student in the MFA in Dance: Creative Practice program at Saint Mary's College of California. She is also Associate Professor of Medicine at a top ranking Bay Area university where she conducts clinical and behavioral HIV research. Parya began her love affair with dance at a young age while studying Persian dance in Iran and later trained in New York Style Salsa and belly dancing. She is currently an instructor at the Salimpour School of Dance and a member of the Suhaila Dance Company. Her dance research and interests include the restriction of movement for female dancers in Iran and cultural appropriation in dance.
My underground dance classes in Iran began in 1990. The teacher was one of my mother's friends, Nahid Kabiri, who had been in the Iranian Folkloric Dance Academy before it was dismantled in 1979 after the Islamic Revolution. Hidden from sight in the enclosed rooms of anyone who would allow us, she taught me and other women folk dances from the North, South and West of Iran, classical Persian dances, dances inspired by belly dancing and Azari folk dances.
Eventually, Kabiri established a performance troupe. Since we could be prosecuted for performing in public, she arranged her dark, damp and dusty basement into our performance space. A few women helped to clear the cobwebs and sweep the floors. Kabiri brought in old wooden benches that were joined together and covered by rugs to minimize cuts and scrapes from the rusty nails and wood splinters that jutted out of them. These rug-covered benches constituted our stage. She also borrowed what seemed to be over 100 rickety dining room chairs from her friends and neighbors to create the audience seating area.