Namah Ensemble

NAMAH live at Japan America Theater. Photo by Mehri

NAMAH in the pre-sanskrit language of Avesta means reverence and greeting. Since its inception in early 2000, the non-profit company has created an exciting body of work, igniting rigorous dance technique with powerful, ancient mysticism. Led by dancer/choreographer Banafsheh, NAMAH has toured annually throughout North America and Europe since the year 2000, and performed in Australia and New Zealand. The Company has become internationally known for its innovative movement vocabulary and high artistic and educational standards.

Banafsheh Sayyad and Irene Masharo established NAMAH with the aim to express the ancient within the contemporary and to express the sacred within dance — finding a language that would communicate the Persian mystical tradition universally to all regardless of cultural background.

For several years, NAMAH has been presented by major festivals and world dance presenters in the US and Europe, performing in spaces ranging from prestigious concert halls like the San Jose Performing Arts Center; Eisemann Center in Dallas, Texas; the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, England; Mercat de Les Flors in Barcelona, Spain; and the Chan Centre in Vancouver, B.C. to experimental theaters like the Dance Center of Columbia College, Cambridge Multicultural Center in Boston; the Redcat Theater and Highways Performance Space dedicated to presenting contemporary cutting edge work in Los Angeles. NAMAH has also been presented twice at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

NAMAH is “the perfect way to open ritual aspects of Persian dance to a wider audience while preserving the sense of participating in something sacred” LA Weekly

NAMAH Highlights:

NAMAH at the Electric Lodge Studio. Dancers: Kelly
Archbold, Angela Chiodo and Banafsheh Sayyad. Photo by Carol Petersen

2005 – 2012, the company has performed annually in the Orientale Festival at Tanzhaus in Dusseldorf, Germany as part of its annual European Tour.

In 2009, the company was invited to perform during a week-long residency at the prestigious Dance Center of Columbia College.

In 2007, NAMAH completed its third annual North American tour of Spring Comes with Violets, where they performed before sold-out audiences in 27 cities.In 2005 and 2006, NAMAH performed Spring Comes with Violets in Europe and Australia, in addition to a North American tour.

In April 2003, NAMAH was invited to Daytona Beach, FL by the Iranian American Society for a week-long residency which included classes and lecture/ demonstrations at local K-12 schools and colleges, culminating in performances at the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach.

Live shot of NAMAH company dancer Doaa Mohammad Ali. Photo by
Sallie DeEtte Mackie

In 2002, NAMAH performed on a three-week tour of Norway funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Culture.

In calling ourselves NAMAH, we revere paradox – the paradox of navigating in an unseen world, of manifesting the thread of infinity, which runs through a finite, fleeting body, and its inverse… of uncovering the fact of structure and order emergent within ecstatic, limitless states.

Fiercely delicate, our movements and sounds – coded with the tradition of a distant yet palpable Land – vibrate, contort, flow, and traverse boundaries of cultural specificity to give homage to vastness. With our learning and our passion, we come to greet the unknown.


Company Website:

Founded: 2000
Artistic Director: Banafsheh Sayyad
Location: Los Angeles

NAMAH dancers Nehara Kalev, Tiana Alvarez and Banafsheh Sayyad performing with musicians Pejman Hadadi and Brad Dutz live at Japan America Theatre, Los Angeles. Photo by Carol Petersen

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