Choreolab by Sashar Zarif


An exciting component of the upcoming Ocean Dance Festival is a 15-day Choreolab by Canadian Irani dancer Sashar Zarif ending with a Gala Presentation on the Opening Night of the Ocean Dance Festival. Check out Sashar’s website at

7-21 November
Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh

For updates, see the Facebook event:


Sashar Zarif Dance Theatre (SZDT) is an internationally renowned Toronto- based dance theatre organization founded in 1994 by award winning multi- disciplinary performing artist, educator and researcher, Sashar Zarif. Through extensive touring across 37 countries including Americas, Europe, North Africa, Central and Western Asia, and the Middle East, Zarif has spent his professional life promoting cultural dialogue through intensive fieldworks, residencies, performances, and creative collaborations. His research interests are identity, memory, globalization, and cross- cultural collaborations. His artistic practice invites a convergence of creative and cultural perspectives. His teaching practice is steeped in the artistry and history of traditional, ritualistic, and contemporary dance and music of the Near Eastern and Central Asian regions and Islamic communities. For over twenty years Zarif has worked tirelessly to maintain the integrity of these fine arts by operating within three interdependent faculties of research, creation and education.

“My practice is a budding tree, established in the earth while rejuvenating in the air. Researching the roots, educating the body, and creating the fruit of this tree, are the mandate of my practice.”—Sashar Zarif

Artist Profile

OVERVIEW: I am a multi-disciplinary dance artist striving to contribute to socio- cultural animation. I am committed to maintaining the integrity of performing and expressive arts to facilitate a journey of self- discovery as a way of understanding one’s perception of reality. In fulfilling this objective, I aim to infuse dance with other essential pillars of art including music, poetry, calligraphy, storytelling, and rituals; thereby acquiring a genuine understanding of the human nature I seek to explore and understand.

PERSONAL & ARTISTIC BACKGROUND: My identity is not a product but it is the process of a ongoing constructive negotiation of my relationship between the cultures, languages, and experiences I carry with me. I come from a history of inherited migration through my grandparents and my own personal experiences with revolution, war, imprisonment, torture, fleeing, refugee camps, and migration. I am a new Canadian, born into an immigrant Azerbaijani family in Iran with strong Central Asian roots.

As an artist from the East living in the West, and after a number of years establishing my Azerbaijani/Iranian Canadian dance practice in Toronto, I found it necessary to examine my identity through a Western lens. Being introduced by my host society as “Middle Eastern”, “Muslim”, “Refugee”, or “Immigrant”, I often found myself confused. I struggled with the confrontation between the new culture and my own history. How could I negotiate the apparent contradictory appearance of who I was in the eyes of others and the reality of what I felt in my artistic practice? I came to the conceptual juncture of assimilation, integration, and acculturation on one hand, and preservation on the other.

I faced a decision to fully assimilate into Canadian culture, retain and maintain my own culture, somehow blend the two, or search for another possibility to help negotiate my identity. I wondered if there was a way I could make peace with it all — a way that was not yet clear to me, a way that would make sense, a way that would be true to the duality of my past and present experiences while allowing me to be happy, satisfied and to excel in my life and art. It has been an eternal search and I have come to the conclusion that life is a process-orientated inquiry. Rather than me longing to arrive at a destination, it is a continuous journey that has been informing my practice and has supported my goal of making a positive contribution to the world I live in.

MY PRACTICE: My professional practice is the process of transforming my personal journey in life to my professional journey in the world. A transformation that works towards an ongoing inquiry into my personal and social-cultural reality. This practice aims to provide stimulus to my own individual mental, physical, and emotional life in order to inspire or facilitate myself to undertake a wider range of experiences that can foster a higher degree of self-realization, self expression, and awareness of belonging to the self, to a community, and to the world at large concurrently.

ARTISTIC INTERESTS/OBJECTIVES: To date, my artistic practice has been accomplished by extensive ethnographic research into the artistic practices of the deeply culturally and historically inter-related Central and Western Asian cultures as well as the cultures of the Islamic societies at large. Also I have participated in a series of cross- disciplinary, culturally creative and educationally collaborative projects both in Canada and across the globe. Thus, My artistic activities are comprised of three inter-related sections/practices: research, teaching, and creation/performance/production — all three operating simultaneously to support one another.

CREATIVE APPROACHES: Since 1994, I have provided artistic activities to dance artists and students in both rural and urban communities across 29 countries. Today, I continue to build on:

• Research (archive: audio/visual/text material, practical knowledge/information, and method of inquiry)

I inquire into the past to connect with the present and contribute to the future. It supports my mission by bringing awareness to the creative exploration of identity, globalization and cross-cultural explorations as well as the basis for my evolving dance pedagogy. I have conducted extensive ethnographic fieldwork across Central and Western Asian, the Middle East, and North Africa focusing on inter- related Sufi, Shamanic, and traditional dance rituals across Islamic societies.

•Creation – Dance form
Dance of Mugham (a constructed dance form providing me with a effective tools to work with) Dance of Mugham is a dance form that was reconstructed and reimagined through the study of its once integrated partners: mystical poetry, classical music, classical calligraphy, and rituals of Sufi and Shamanic traditions across the Islamic societies. This form was created in order to enable me to work with the wealth of wisdom, knowledge and integrity embedded in these mystical practices that have been promoting inquiry into the reality of self, compassion, harmony, and tolerance. The Project was realized over eight years through focused and intensive field world, study and consultation with some of the prominent masters of music, poetry, calligraphy and sufi rituals.

• Creation – Creative approach
Moving Memories (A creative process for dance- making/choreography)

For me, creation is about transformation of artistic experiences. Through articulation and refinement, this creative process provides reality to my artistic creations, resulting in my choreographic works.

• Pedagogy – SZDT’s Itinerant Dance Academy (IDA)
(the means by which I share and communicate the aforementioned artistic activities)

Educational outreach is an integral component of SZDT’s mission and vision. Formerly known as the Joshgoon Dance Academy which was established in 1994 by Sashar Zarif after his graduation and performance experience in National and Classical Dances of Azerbaijan and Central Asia in Baku, Azerbaijan. The new Itinerant Dance Academy offers residencies, lecture- demonstrations, and classes in Near Eastern and Central Western and Central Asian dance, character, technique and choreography, including dances from Azerbaijan, Dagestan, Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan Kazakhstan and Western Mongolia. Of special note is the “Dance of Mugham” which is the product of over twelve years of research and reconstruction completed by Artistic Director Sashar Zarif. The goal of Sashar Zarif’s of IDA is to reinstate the nearly lost element of dance back into the ancient form of Mugham.

The Itinerant Dance Academy has been appropriately named “Itinerant” since Zarif’s teaching and curriculum has, and continues to be experienced by students and artists of all ages across the globe. After years of honing his teaching practice, Zarif’s students have benefited from the profound opportunity to explore their past memories through integrated dance practices that involve music, poetry, calligraphy, ritual, storytelling and oral journaling. Zarif’s unique dance pedagogy, curricular content and course offerings offer an educational platform for his students to nurture the theatre’s core values: inquiry, sharing, diversity, individualtiy, tolerance, compassion, harmony, responsibility, awareness, and motivation.

As such, the Itinerate Dance Academy facilitates moving beyond a fixed understanding of culture to a universal way that humans relate to the world around them. SZDT Itinerate dance academy was conceived to facilitate genuine communication and awareness between people across the globe.

Next WDAAP Annual General Meeting in Bangladesh, Nov 2019


The next Annual General Meeting of World Dance Alliance Asia-Pacific will be held in the beautiful seaside town of Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh, from 22-25 November 2019. The event will take place in conjunction with the Ocean Dance Festival, organized by Nrityajog (WDA-Bangladesh).

The event will include twinning projects, choreolabs, seminars, workshops and performances.

Currently, the event invites proposals for scholarly gatherings of papers, panel discussions, dance research workshops, lecture demonstrations, workshops, posters/installations and Pecha Kucha that address the WDA-AP AGM core theme of ‘Bridging the Gap’ through dance.

Here are the key dates:

  • 25 February 2019: Submissions close
  • 25 April 2019: Notification of acceptance
  • 25 May 2019: Deadline for submission of revised proposals
  • 25 June 2019: Final notification of acceptance by email

Registration has not been activated as yet, but the dates to remember are as follows:

  • Early bird registration up to 01 May 2019
  • Full registration from 02 May 2019

For more information, check out the event website:

Update on World Dance Alliance Global Summit 2017

World Dance Alliance Global Summit July 23–28, 2017
School of Music at Memorial University, St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada
Dancing from the Grassroots


Planning for the 2017 Global Summit is progressing well and registration will open by April 1. Every detail has to be finalized before registration can actually take place, but many of your questions should be answered below.


Flights: You should book your flight to St John’s International Airport, Newfoundland. The code is YYT. Be careful booking since there is a St John in New Brunswick also. We strongly recommend that you use a carrier that flies directly to Canada rather than using a connecting flight through the USA. In Canada connections can be made from major cities such as Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, and Halifax.

Canadian Currency: ATM machines are available at the airport and on campus, but there is no currency exchange counter at the St. John’s airport. Make sure you obtain Canadian dollars before you leave the airport to pay the taxi fare from the airport to campus.

Transportation from Airport: Taxis cost $25 to $30 to Memorial University. The # 14 bus goes from the airport to the Memorial University Student approximately every hour and takes 30 minutes. If you want to rent a car you should do this immediately because rental cars are very limited during the summer. Most major car rental companies rent from the airport.

Accommodation: There are 300 rooms reserved in Macpherson College, Memorial University’s newest residence. These are single rooms sharing a bathroom with the adjacent room in the suite. The rate is $60 per person per night. If you wish to share the suite with a particular person you will be able to indicate the name on the registration form. The Summit runs from the opening Reception, the evening of Sunday, July 23 to the evening of Friday, July 28. Most people will likely depart Saturday, July 29.

There will be a special promotion posted that will permit you to register at this special rate between July 21-30. Payment is due at the time of booking by either Visa or MasterCard. If you are travelling with a partner, there are a few one bedroom suites with double beds. You will need to contact housing (email will be provided) directly to book a suite. Most hotels are not within walking distance of the campus. If you prefer hotel or bed and breakfast accommodation, you may find information under 2017 Global Summit, then click on Tourist Information.

Transportation: Evening performances take place Monday to Thursday downtown, and a traditional kitchen party will take place downtown on Friday evening. Taxis are approximately $10 one way. We recommend that several people share a taxi. Public transportation from the Student Centre is also available to the downtown area and other locations in St John’s.

Currency: All prices are given in Canadian currency. The rate fluctuates daily but is around $1.00 Can = $.74 US.

Registration: Registrations received by June 1 will be $300 regular and $200 students; after June 1 the fee is $350 regular and $250 students. Daily registration is $110 regular and $85 students. Registration includes entry to scholarly papers and panels, workshops, choreographic laboratories, performances on campus in Cook Recital Hall, and downtown at LSPU Hall, opening reception, coffee breaks. Free workshops are scheduled on a first come basis. Please consult your program when you register on campus for workshop times, descriptions and sign up procedure.

Food: Fast food outlets are available on campus but there are few dining options close to the campus. A continental breakfast (pastries, fruit salad, yogurt, toast, cereal, tea, coffee, juice, milk) may be purchased for $9 daily. A box lunch ( meat or vegetarian) may be purchased for $11 daily. Numerous restaurants are open for dinner near the downtown theatre where evening performances will take place. In recent years St John’s has become a food lovers paradise. Award winning chefs will tempt you with fresh seafood, hearty traditional Newfoundland fare, and international cuisine. There is a good choice of both fine dining and a more casual atmosphere.

Performances: On campus performances are scheduled from Monday to Friday in Cook Recital Hall from 3:30-5 PM. Tickets are free to registrants. A limited number of additional tickets ($5) will be available for purchase at the registration table. Evening performances take place downtown Monday to Thursday in LSPU Hall. You may attend the 6 PM or 8:30 PM performance subject to availability. After June 15 a limited number of tickets ($15) will be available through the LSPU Hall box office at information/ You will be able to dine first or dine after seeing the performance. A traditional Kitchen Party is planned at the Ship Pub on the Friday evening beginning at 8 pm with live musicians and dancing. The cover charge is $10, and you can purchase food and drink during the evening.

Information for Presenters and Performers: Please note that anyone presenting or performing must be a current member of WDA. Scheduling will begin April 1, and you will not be scheduled unless both you and your dancers have current memberships in WDA.

Presenters: (papers, pecha kucha, panels and workshops) will receive information about the date and time of their presentation by May 1. Information on equipment will be sent at the same time.

Choreographers and Dancers: Scheduling will begin April 1. Choreographers will be sent information about stage dimensions, lighting plot, equipment available. Full information about your piece and the names of your dancers must be received by April 15. Please note that all your dancers must pay the registration fee and be current members of WDA.

Accommodation for WDAAP International Dance Festival/Conference, 21-24 July 2016

To all our the dance practitioners, enthusiasts and fans from around the world, as well as WDAAP members, who are looking forward to World Dance Alliance Asia-Pacific’s next exciting annual event, in Seoul, South Korea, hosted by WDA-Korea:
1. Holiday Inn is the official conference hotel.
2. See the room booking form: Download the form (MS Word doc 85KB). Please do direct all bookings to the Holiday Inn as stated on the form.
3. Holiday Inn has given a special rate for the WDA conference which is not announced on their website. This special rate is only available for WDAAP members, through bookings with this form through email or fax only (contacts are stated on the form).
4. Although not stated in the form, the room is appropriate for 1 – 3 people with a roll-away bed.
5. Looking for a roommate? The leader of each of the event categories (Showcase, Symposium, Master Class) will soon receive the list of all presenters in those categories and might be able to assist you in this matter. Please contact them if you require a roommate!

PS: The MayPlace Hotel in the centre of Seoul is also recommended (check their website); it is about a 35-minute bus ride to SSU. The special rate for anyone booking directly with the hotel is around $US90 per room for one and $US100 for two people, plus $US13 for breakfast.

News for WDAAP International Dance Festival/Conference, 21-24 July 2016

KakaoTalk_Hong Jo Jun_March 16, 2016


Information for dance practitioners, enthusiasts and fans from around the world, as well as WDAAP members, who are looking forward to World Dance Alliance Asia-Pacific’s next exciting annual event, in Seoul, South Korea, hosted by WDA-Korea:

1. A draft schedule of the event is now available! Download PDF here (28KB). This does not yet contain details of who is presenting where. It just contains the general outline of events — so you can start booking your flights to Korea! Check back at this website for an updated schedule with more details soon.

2. The conference site is in Sung Shin University, in the north of Seoul (30 mins from city centre). English Website:

3. The hotel nearby is Holiday Inn Seoul which will have a conference rate of US$100 with 3 beds (one roll-away bed); three people can share a room. With the conference rate, breakfast is not provided.

4. If anyone wants to book a hotel in the centre of Seoul, it is about a 35 minute bus ride to SSU. The MayPlace Hotel in the centre of Seoul is recommended. The special rate for anyone booking online directly with the hotel is around US$90 per room for two persons.

5. Conference registration will be open in mid May, US$100 for all WDA members. Please ensure your WDA membership is up to date through your country chapter before registering (e.g. Ausdance in Australia, MyDance Alliance in Malaysia etc.). There will also be facilities for payment of individual WDA membership at the conference (US$20). However, we strongly recommend that you strengthen your country’s dance networks by joining your own recognised organisation.

Dance Routes – Danced Roots: Connecting the Local and the Global

Seoul, Korea – 2016

 In 2016, the Korean chapter of World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific will host the WDAAP Annual General Meeting and surrounding activities as the event Dance Routes – Danced Roots: Connecting the Local and the Global, from 21 to 24 July 2016.

Applications are now open for participation in the following events:

Call for Proposals for Showcase Performance

Dance Routes – Danced Roots: Connecting the Local and the Global

Seoul, Korea – 2016

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: JANUARY 10, 2016 (Extended to February 10, 2016)
(You will be notified in 6 days after application)


The Showcase provides a concert platform for professional choreographers and performers, and pre-professional artists training in dance academies. The performances will take place in the theaters located in the ShangShin Univeristy or Arko Theater and will be open to registered participants of the WDAAP event and the general public.

Dance works presented may not exceed 10 minutes in length.

An international panel will consider and evaluate all submissions based on criteria in relation to the quality of the work submitted and accompanying documentation. Proposals for the Showcase will be submitted online and should comprise the following:

  • 100-word bio of the choreographer/director (primary presenter)
  • 250-word statement that shows the genesis of the work to be presented
  • 10 minute (maximum) on-line (Vimeo/YouTube) sample of recent [continuous] performance or rehearsal footage of the choreographer/director’s work. Excerpts and promotional footage will not be considered. Applicants must submit password-protected links to their sample work.

Applicants are responsible for all licensing agreements – music and otherwise – necessary both to post the work online for consideration and to present it. Sample work may be different from the intended showcase work but both must fall within a 10-minute (maximum) time frame.

In addition, the applicant will submit the following on the online form:

  • choreographer/director’s name
  • designation of Emerging Choreographer (ten years or less in the field) or Career Choreographer (over ten years in the field)
  • contact email, telephone number, institutional affiliation (if applicable), mailing address, names of performers/collaborators

All choreographers/presenters whose work is accepted for the showcase performance must be registered members of World Dance Alliance – Asian Pacific.

Click Here to download the application form with information about submission.

Call for Proposals for International Choreolab

Dance Routes – Danced Roots: Connecting the Local and the Global

Seoul, Korea – 2016

(You will be notified in six days after application)


The International Choreolab is designed for four emerging and mid-career choreographers to work intensively for almost one week under the mentorship of one Korean established dance artist and one internationally known choreographers (to be announced) resulting in a public showing of works in progress. Several dancers with various dance backgrounds and skills will work with each choreographer.

Please note that the event registration fee for all successful choreographers and dancers selected will be waived. All other costs, including travel, are the responsibility of the recipient. WDAAP-Korea will provide lodging for the four choreographers. The dancers are responsible for the costs of their accommodation. Also, the project is quite intensive in effort and time. Please note the Choreolab will run from 14 to 20 July 2016, one week prior to the main Dance Routes – Danced Roots event which is planned to be 21-24 July 2016.

Apply as a Choreographer for the Choreolab

Applications for the mentored CHOREOGRAPHER should include:

  1. Name, phone number, email address, mailing address
  2. Institution affiliation or individual
  3. Bio of no more than 150 words
  4. Statement of the perceived benefits from engagement in the Choreolab, no more than 250 words
  5. A link to an online video of a work sample, 8-10 minutes of one or two works. Please be mindful that the sample is:

A) clear (not too dark)
B) showing group work, not solo work, as this is what the tasks will be about
C) sufficient in length for judging the resolution of a choreographic idea

  1. CV, focusing on dance training, choreography, awards and/or reviews
  2. Any other applications for the symposium, showcase, Pecha Kucha or evening performance in the Dance Routes – Danced Roots event in Korea in 2016? If Yes, please state which one(s).

Apply as a Dancer for the Choreolab

Applications for Choreolab DANCER should include:

  1. Name, phone number, email address, mailing address
  2. Institution affiliation or individual
  3. Bio of no more than 150 words
  4. Statement of the perceived benefits from engagement in the Choreolab, no more than 150 words
  5. A link to an online video of dancing sample, 8 minutes maximum. Please be mindful that the dancing sample is:

A) Clear
B) Easy to recognize the applicant in the sample

  1. CV, focusing on the dance training, performance experiences, awards and/or reviews
  2. Any other applications for the Dance Routes – Danced Roots event in Korea in 2016? If Yes, please state which one(s).
  3. Dancers need to arrive by the night of 7/13. The final showing of Choreolab will be on 7/21 or 7/22.

Please indicate clearly the category of your application, CHOREOGRAPHER or DANCER. If you intend to apply both, please send two applications separately. Please submit the applications to Jin-Wen Yu, and Nanette Hassall,

Call for Proposals for Symposium

Dance Routes – Danced Roots: Connecting the Local and the Global

Seoul, Korea – 2016

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: JANUARY 10, 2016 Extended to February 10, 2016)
(You will be notified in six days after application)


The Symposium theme focuses on the idea of global and local connectivity through dance, looking at roots as well as routes that dance and dancers negotiate in different cultures of the contemporary world. While the rootedness of the dance traditions remain as important an area in dance research, the emerging and ever-changing routes like migration and diaspora, inter-culturalism, technology, media, and expanding scope for dance as a tool for wellness and somatic well-being are becoming essential focuses in dance research. As a result danced and dance generated dialogues in social, cultural and political milieus has expanded the current research in dance studies in the contemporary times.

The paper presenters are encouraged to think of some important questions connected to the local issues and the global negotiations in the ‘world’ of dance:

  • How does dance connect global and local communities and how is the dance community connected to and through important global issues and trends? These trends could be related to the environment, global economy, public health, international conflicts, understanding and embodiment of gender, issues around well-ness and so forth.
  • What does the community of dancers have in common with other communities around the world – in terms of similarities in resources (both natural, economic and social), and dissimilarities rising out of ethnic and cultural diversity, natural resources, geographic location, and so forth.
  • What are some of the familiar aspects of dances in all cultures, and how are they addressed similarly or differently in our community and in communities around the world?
  • How are personal/ local/ culture specific experiences in and through dance in our community connected to universal experiences? These could include challenges such as violence, poverty, migration, and homelessness or positive experiences such as artistic traditions, rituals, festivals, celebrations and ever-increasing possibilities of cross-cultural collaborations.
  • How do the corporeal connect to the sensorial in dance practices in a fast changing and increasingly technology-reliant world of the dancer?
  • Where do dancers find connections between the local and the global concepts of space and time?

Abstracts/Proposals addressing the theme of the symposium Dance Routes – Danced Roots: Connecting the Local and the Global will be considered for the following presentation modes:

Scholarly presentations:

Scholars are invited to send paper abstracts (maximum 250 words) of original research, within the 10th of January, 2016, which will be double blind refereed by an international review committee as per academic research conventions. Authors of the selected papers will be invited to present their papers.

Performative presentations:

This format is designed to privilege the voice of practitioners through showing digital footage of a choreographic work or a community/teaching/video project they have undertaken. Performative Presentation submissions must include a Proposal comprised of a 250-word concept statement of the practice/project, together with a 10-minute maximum online (Vimeo/YouTube) excerpt of recent work. Promotional footage will not be considered.

Pecha Kucha style presentations (Students doing their Masters Degree, MPhil or PhD and emerging scholars):

Pecha Kucha is a presentation format in which 20 slides are timed to be shown each for 20 seconds (not more than 7 minutes in total). Research students are encouraged to present in this format. Initial submissions are in the form of a 250-word Abstract summarising the topic, methodology and summary of the research to date, with an extra page of no more than 7 contextual/bibliographic references in APA style.

All submissions will be peer reviewed by an international WDA committee. Besides the requirements for the respective presentation modes stated above,  papers and presentation applications are to be submitted online and should be in the form provided below.  

Please note:

    • Only WDA members in good standing as of February, 2016 will be permitted to present.)
    • Only one abstract may be submitted for the symposium (separate applications for other events, such as master classes, choreolab, showcase will have to be applied for in the necessary format provided by the different committees
    • Paper presenters will have to register for the conference
    • Paper presenters will acquire all licensing agreements – music and otherwise – necessary to present it
    • The paper presenter will have to be present in person to present the paper.

Click Here to download the abstract submission form with information about submission.