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On July 15 and 16, “The Persepolis Project,” featuring composer  Neema Hekmat along with Ballet Asfaneh and collaborating artists Aisan Hoss (pictured), Moses Sedler, Diana Rowan, and Sonja Drakulich, will open the second weekend of the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival at the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House. The work explores shared ancient beliefs and values of Persian and Eurasian heritage.

Ballet Afsaneh writes, “The project is shaped by the participating artists’ heartfelt response to current global threats to the well being of humanity and our fragile ecosystem. Rooted in ancient Persian culture is the fundamental belief that harmony and balance in nature is a critical necessity for human coexistence and survival. We find elements of this belief in the European cultures, often attributed to the values transmitted by an ancient religion called “Mithraism,” which arose on the Central Asian plateau and Persia. By referencing these time honored, shared cultural values through music, dance, and narrative, the project explores deep relationship of the human race with nature.”

In addition to lead artist Neema Hekmat, an Iranian American composer and instrumentalist; and Sharlyn Sawyer, the artistic director and choreographer for Ballet Afsaneh; participating artists are Iranian-American choreographer and dancer Aisan Hoss; composer and cellist Moses Sedler; composer and harpist Diana Rowan; world music vocalist Sonja Drakulich; violinist Sarah Jo Zaharako; Violist Katrina Wreede. Ballet Afsaneh dancers are Caroline Hamel, Samia Karimi, Robin Nasatir, Neela Reed, Marta Serra-Marti, Jennifer Smith, Annie Spirka, and Oona Wong-danders.

At the Ethnic Dance Festival, “The Persepolis Project” will be presented alongside a rich array of dance and musical forms from Mexico, the Congo, India, Spain, West Africa and other countries and regions. Tickets are available.

Photo of Aisan Hoss/Ballet Afsaneh by RJ Muna