The Art of Improvisation: Iranian Contemporary Dance, Music, and Poetry

Shahrokh Moshkin-Ghalam
Shabnam Tolouei
Pejman Hadadi
Behfar Bahadoran
Sun April 9th 2023, 7:00 - 8:30pm
Event Sponsor
Hamid and Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies
Event is open to
Experience Type
Dinkelspiel Auditorium
471 Lagunita Drive, Stanford, CA 94305

Shahrokh Moshkin-Ghalam, Shabnam Tolouei, Pejman Hadadi, and Behfar Bahadoran take the stage to explore the ecstatic art of improvised music, dance, and theatrical recitation of Persian and Middle-Eastern poetry.  

Acclaimed as one of the world’s greatest dancers, Shahrokh’s revolutionary style will embody Pejman’s masterful and mesmerizing percussive expressions and Behfar’s passionate motifs—based on the Persian classical Dastgah and Maqam melodic phrasings—on the tar, setar, and tanbour. 

Internationally acclaimed actress, Shabnam Tolouei, will theatrically recite and give voice to the poems of several Iranian and Middle-Eastern female poets to set the stage for this celebration of Persian performing arts. 

IMPORTANT NOTES: Performance is in Persian. Doors open at 6:20 PM, performance begins promptly at 7:00 PM. Performance is 90 minutes without intermission. Masks are recommended.

Shahrokh Moshkin-Ghalam, born in Iran, is an Iranian modern dancer trained and raised in Paris. He studied art history and theatre from the University of Paris. Shahrokh is a critically acclaimed choreographer, dancer, director, and actor. Trained in various styles of dance, Shahrokh draws inspiration from diverse eastern and western traditions to create a unique style of dance. Persian, Indian, Flamenco and Sufi influences blended with contemporary training in both dance and theatre create his signature style. He has influenced and changed the nature of Persian dance today. For six years he appeared under the direction of Ariane Mouchkine with the Theatre Du Soleil where he had major parts in plays such as Tartuffe of Molièr. He is the founder and artistic director of Nakissa Art Company based in Paris. Shahrokh performed "Seven Princesses" Ballet based on the works of the great Persian poet Nezami in 2002 at the Royal Opera House of Covent Garden. He has created theatrical plays and ballets inspired by great Persian classical thinkers and poets such as Omar Khayyam, Nizami, Ferdowsi, Iraj Mirza (Zohreh and Manouchehr/ Arefnameh). As an official member of La Comédie Française (The House of Moliere) from 2005 to 2012, Shahrokh has had major roles in several different plays with world renowned stage directors. He regularly performs in prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall, New York; Queen Elizabeth Hall, London; Royce Hall, Los Angeles; and the Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco. Shahrokh currently lives and works in the United States. 

Shabnam Tolouei, born in Tehran, Iran, is an actress, filmmaker, theater director and playwright. She studied filmmaking from Bagh-Ferdos Film School in Iran and theater studies from Université Paris X, Nanterre, France. She has been awarded five times as best actress, best playwright, and best director at the International Fadjr Theatre Festival in Iran between 1996 and 2004. Shabnam started her career by writing short stories for cultural magazines in 1990. She has been writing plays and film scripts since 1994 and acting on stage since 1993 and has performed regularly in a leading role in more than 25 plays. She has taught different acting methods since 2001 and her novel My Dear Actor, about theater history (published by Cheshmeh Publishing House) has been used as both a core and supplemental resource for young adults. After being banned from working in Iran by the Islamic Republic authorities, she left the country and immigrated to France where she became a naturalized French citizen. She has continuied her artistic career as a documentary filmmaker, theater director, actress, and acting teacher outside Iran. She is currently living in the United States.

Pejman Hadadi, born in Tehran, Iran, is world-renowned and considered one of the most innovative Iranian percussionists who has created a distinct signature style that has greatly impacted tombak players of his own generation and after. He studied music with master musicians like Assadollah Hejazi, Bahman Rajabi and followed the various styles of famous tombak masters such as Hossein Tehrani and Nasser Farhangfar. He has collaborated with music ensembles including Dastan, Oshagh, Nava, Dastan, Zarbang, Hamavayan and NuAeen and has performed and recorded with a variety of musicians, both Iranian and from other cultures including Hossein Alizadeh, Shahram Nazeri, Ali Akbar Moradi, Kayhan Kalhor, Homayoun Shajarian, Sima Bina, Parissa, Matthaious Tsahourides, Nejati Celik, Halil Karadoumon, Yair Dalal, Imamyar Hasanov, Rajeeb Chakraborti, Adam Rudolph, Brad Dutz, Gregg Ellis and Yuval Ron among others, and performs regularly in prestigious concert halls and music festivals. He has also composed a large body of music for dance and movies. One of his innovations is a new version of a custom-made tunable frame drum called Pezhvāk. He is a two-time recipient of a Durfee Foundation fellowship, he founded Neyreez World Music Institute in Southern California. He is currently a visiting professor at UCLA.

Behfar Bahadoran, born in Tehran, Iran, studied under Iranian classical and folkore music masters including Homayoun Khorram, Ramin Rahimi, Ali-Akbar Moradi, Darioush Talaei, and Hamid Motebassem. Behfar is a visual arts graduate from Maryland Institute College of Art and is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, and a multidisciplinary visual artist. He founded Pezhvak Ensemble in 2008 and currently works as the band leader and cofounder of Sorvad Ensemble. He worked and performed alongside notorious international musicians and artists such as Majid Derakhshani, Alireza Shahmohammadi, Pejman Hadadi, Pezhham Akhavass, Dawn Avery, John Wubbenhorst, Larry Mitchel, Kazem Davoudian, Susan Deyhim, and Mojgan Shajarian. Behfar has performed regularly at many prestigious venues in the United States including the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco; Lincoln Center and Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; the Kennedy Center and the Freer Shackler Gallery in Washington D.C. 


If you need a disability-related accommodation for this event, please contact us at iranianstudies [at] (iranianstudies[at]stanford[dot]edu).  Requests should be made by March 31, 2023.