“My name is Bita and I was born in Iran.
In Tehran, I was active in different sports such as swimming, basketball, and squash. I was also training in visual arts such as painting (something I get from my mum who has a masters in Art History). Reflecting on my journey in dance, I now consider these sportive and creative activities part of my training in developing different dance techniques. But my “actual” dance training began when I left Iran at the age of 15 to attend the United World College of Hong Kong. I studied physical theatre and experienced my first dance performances. I made my first choreography for five dancers when I was 16. It was about my journey leaving Iran during an intense political season (the 2009 protests). It became a political and emotional show, which led to my firm decision in studying dance. I continued my studies in theatre at Earlham College in Indiana, but later changed my concentration to music composition. Currently, I am an MFA student at The Ohio State University Columbus where I am focusing on contemporary and improvisation dance and technology.
It is surprising for many that I, as an Iranian woman, pursue dance professionally. In the field of contemporary dance, there is only a handful of Iranian dance artists. However, we are there and we are making interesting works, in my opinion!
“Do people dance in Iran?” People do ask this question with a curious tone – dancing in Iran? Yes! Dance classes exist and dancers exist as well! There is not much variety though – barely any in modern/contemporary forms. Public dance performances are a lot more restricted than say physical theatre, unless it is private. And no one can pursue a degree in dance. Besides that, people dance and they love to see dances! The lack of dance resources is a political order (or disorder…!) not a cultural one.
Do I feel I have a responsibility towards society, as an artist
Absolutely. Not just artists. Everyone. Every citizen should hold a certain standard to their abilities to give back and make their communities a better place. Sometimes, I do that in my teaching. And sometimes, my art is educative. Art is cultural. And cultures are in flux. Art can bring about cultural change that can inevitably (though not necessarily at times!) lead to political change. Not to mention, art can be political!
The opposite of dancing
There is nothing opposite of dancing. Dance is movement and everything is always moving!
My greatest ambition
In simple words: to contribute to a better future! But practically speaking, I aspire to own a collaborative space in which I invite international people from different fields to collaborate on a common mission – the product may or may not be dance or music. But it will be something educational for the participants and the audience, and something that makes a difference for a better future!
What I want to bring to my public
The one feeling I have been aiming at lately is Empathy. I say Empathy with a capital E because I believe to get to it I must first Engage with my audience. That is why my recent work *Banned: A Tour of Tehran in 10 Minutes* was interactive and in an intimate space. In a time where hate speech and divisive -isms are boiling on the surface, developing a strong sense of Empathy can be radical. “