Iranian Performing Arts Inc. (IPA) was established as a result of the collaborative work between the founder and president, Sheila Eghbali, and vice president, Robert de Warren. The two first set forth to establish the first International Iranian Dance Conference (IIDC) in 2012, with three additional conferences that followed. In 2015, Sheila Eghbali, along with the help of individuals from her dance group, Iranian Dance Artists (IDA), and the partnered music ensemble, Sayeh, established the Board of Directors and obtained non-profit status under section 501(c)(3). IPA has since developed a robust field research approach to Iranian dance and music, and the success of our work is in large due to the contribution of individuals who have served on the Board.
Sheila Eghbali is the founder and president of Iranian Performing Arts Inc (IPA), the director of the International Iranian Dance Conferences (IIDC), and the artistic director of the IPA Dance Company. Ms. Eghbali began her training in Iranian dance at a young age, in Iran. With nearly 30 years of experience, she has committed her life to uncovering, learning, teaching, and performing various dances of Iran.
It is not only her innate love of movement and music, and a strong ability to choroegraph dances and compose music, but also her ethnic background as an Azeri Iranian, which has fueld Ms. Eghbali's life-long journey for seeking out, uncovering, learning, and teaching the dances of various ethnic groups in Iran. Ms. Eghbali has a deep passion for breaking stereotypes, educating, and building bridges, and using dance as a platform to promote peaceful discourse.
Ms. Eghbali has led dance troups of up to 35 dancers, in California and Massachussets since 2000. She has also trained and taught as a latin, ballroom, and swing instructor in California, and children's ballet and Iranian dance instructor in both states. Ms. Eghbali is a professional dually lisenced teacher at the secondary level with over 12 years of classroom teaching experience. Ms. Eghbali has choreographed and directed a total of 3 full length show-cases with 10-14 dances in each and has performed at over 200 events with countless original choreographies since she began learning choreography at the age of 10. Ms. Eghbali's passion in dance is in effecting change through story telling and choreography and leaving a positive lasting impact on audiences.
Ms. Eghbali has trained with both primary, secondary, and tertiary sources of Iranian dance and over the years, shifted her focus on learning from primary and secondary sources only. This has meant traveling to remote areas of Iran and training with the locals or those who have traveled to those areas and trained with the locals. In the recent years, she has trained with the director of Iran's national folkloric dance ensemble, Mr. Robert de Warren; the former choreographer of Azerbaijan's State Dance Ensemble, Namus Zokhrabov, the choreographer of Boushehri dance and music ensemble, Leymer, Ali Barati; Master of dances of Torbateh Jam, Forogh Kiani and Soleiman-e-Choob-Bauz, Birjandi dance master, Mohammad Zare, and dancers from Balouchistan, the Mirbalouch-Zehi family. She has also learned from women both in Torbat-e-Jam and Baluchistan, and continues her endeavors in expanding her knowledge. When asked about her expertise, she said, "The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know; and sometimes, what I had learned was incorrect."
Robert de Warren started his career with the Royal Ballet in London. He was invited by the former government of Iran in 1965, to become the artistic director of the Iranian National Ballet (1965-1970). After years of international presence, Mr. de Warren was appointed to lead research exhibitions around Iran and study the folkloric forms from across Iran.
He and his wife, Mdm. Jacqueline, trained dancers, many of whom were from various corners of Iran. With this, he took Iran's National Folkloric Society (Mahalli Dancers of Iran) to the public stage for the first time. The Mahalli Dancers toured the world and performed for President and First Lady Ford. They also performed across Europe and Asia including England, Germany, and France. With government funding. Mr. de Warren researched and archived the various folk dances, all of which was lost in 1979.
Mr. de Warren has since directed many ballet and dance companies worldwide including Sarasota Ballet. His awards and recognitions are numerous, including a Cornaro Medal of Honor for recognition of service to dance in Italy and the world, and the City of Sarasota "Keys to the City" proclamation of Robert de Warren day.
Mr. de Warren has been an enthusiastic partner in planning and executing all the International Iranian Dance Conferences (IIDC) put forth by IPA. He brings a wealth of expertise on Iranian dance, dance research, and archiving to IPA and the board. He is currently working in conjunction with artists whom he had trained during his time in Iran, to recreate the archives that were lost during the 1979 revolution.
For more information about Mr. de Warren, please click here.
Mehdi Abedi joined IDA in 2014 and was one of the founding board members of IPA in 2015. He has performed with IDA in several performances including the MFA Nowruz event and Dance for World Community.
Dr. Abedi brings with him a long history of experience in industry, with non-profits, and in academia. He was formerly the interim director of sport and mountaineering section in Fanni Alumni non-profit Associate. He was also the co-founder of the National Search and Rescue organization in Iran and director of education and training department. The unique perspective he contributes has been invaluable in planning and executing events at IPA.
Dr. Abedi’s interest in Iranian culture and regional dance was the main driving force to participate in a joint effort to revive and archive this forgotten national heritage. His steadfast commitment to the organization and the cause has made him a key member of the executive board. Among other contributions, Dr. Abedi took on the organization and management of several events during the 2nd IIDC. As needed, he has directed the men’s team through additional rehearsals in preparation for performances.
His vision is that one day, each Iranian knows his cultural background and is able to present it proudly to the world. He is, currently, teaching faculty at Northeastern University in Boston.
Born and raised in Mashhad, Iran, Parham Haghighi is a composer, arranger, vocalist, pianist, and educator. He moved to the United States in 2012 to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston where he graduated, Summa cum Laude, in Contemporary Writing and Production with a focus on Vocal Jazz Performance. In 2015, Parham directed the 7th Annual Berklee Middle Eastern Music Festival: Music of Persia"; a concert in which he also performed, arranged, and conducted. A recipient of Berklee’s Outstanding Achievement Award, Haghighi has been actively performing as a vocalist and pianist at the universities, music festivals, and venues across Iran and the US.
Since 2016, Parham also has been the executive board member of Iranian Performing Arts Inc. that focuses on uncovering, preserving, and celebrating the diverse cultures of Iran through dance. Having recently moved to New York City, he passionately continues to pursue his career, hoping to play a small valuable role in the repressed, lesser-known world of Iranian music.