Bodies & Borders: Intercultural Exchanges between Kathak and Iranian Dance (2018) UC Santa Cruz, in collaboration with Cynthia Ling Lee (Assistant Professor of Dance, Dept. of Theater Arts, UC Santa Cruz)
Where We’re From (2015) - Final class showing for Theater 98/198 “Experimenting with Embodied Histories: Social Memory as a Source for New Dance Techniques,” UC Berkeley. Class taught by and final showing choreographed by Heather Rastovac Akbarzadeh. Where We’re From showcased the class’ experiential process of collectively creating emergent movement vocabularies both rooted in and experimenting with students’ socio-cultural memories of moving and dancing in the world.
Recollections - Performing Feminist Scholarship (2011) - Created and directed by Heather Rastovac Akbarzadeh and Karin Shankar for UC Berkeley’s Gender and Women’s (GWS) Studies twentieth anniversary symposium, commissioned by Professor Trinh T. Minh-ha and the department of GWS to develop a multi-media performance engaging with feminist scholarship of UC Berkeley’s GWS faculty. Recollections - Performing Feminist Scholarship invites its audience to consider the various modes in which we may perform feminist scholarship; we embody, we lend voice to, we lend song to, we write, and we lend rhythm to the relationship between women and their work. This piece engages with the written scholarship of UC Berkeley’s GWS faculty and founders as critical sources of insight for the its conceptual framing.
The Skin of Limes (2010) - Created and directed by Heather Rastovac Akbarzadeh in collaboration with vocalist Jessika Kenney. The Skin of Limes is an experimental, multimedia performance piece incorporating movement/dance, digital and video arts, Persian poetry and music, and engages with themes of the Green Movement and 2009 post-elections protests in Iran, human/ity, separation, love, and transformation on intimate and collective levels.
Stand (2016) - Berkeley Dance Project, UC Berkeley - Choreographed and directed by Amara Tabor-Smith, Stand asks, “What are the catalyzing elements that give birth to social justice movements? What brings people together to unite for change and what tears them apart?” Drawing from the history of social justice movements in the Bay Area between the 1960s and the present, Stand was a devised work honoring the rich legacy of locally grown activism.
From the Field to the Table: An Urban Bush Women Leadership Institute Project (2012), UC Berkeley - Directed and choreographed by Paloma McGregor, Amara Tabor-Smith, and Lisa Wymore, From the Field to the Table was a project that the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies embarked on with the acclaimed Urban Bush Women community engagement Leadership Institute. Through a five-week-long residency utilizing the Urban Bush Women process of community engagement and art-making, participants developed a performance that focused on issues of food justice, access, and policymaking.
At Buffalo: Black Theater Workshop (2011), UC Berkeley - Created and directed by Dr. Amma Y. Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin . Heather participated as an ensemble member (actor, singer, dancer); researcher; artistic director and playwright for one segment of the performance (Akoun’s Beautiful Orient/Streets of Cairo). At Buffalo was the culmination of a semester-long course in which workshop participants developed the play’s script directly from Dr. Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin’s original archival research on the 1901 World’s Fair in Buffalo, NY. The themes of the performance focused on the fair’s depictions of black history and progress.
PROFESSIONAL DANCE COMPANIES
2013 – 2016 Ballet Afsaneh (dances of Central Asia) – San Francisco, CA - principle dancer, choreographer, member of Afsaneh Arts & Culture Association Leadership Team
2007 – 2011 Delshodeh Iranian and Central Asian dance ensemble – Seattle, WA
2001 – 2007 Banat Sahar Middle Eastern music and dance ensemble – Seattle, WA
2001 – 2005 Shourangeez Iranian and Kurdish music and dance ensemble – Seattle, WA
In the dance ensembles Delshodeh, Banat Sahar, and Shourangeez, Heather was co-founder, co-artistic director, choreographer, performer, researcher, and lecturer. Shourangeez performed in the Folklore-in-the-Schools program through the Seattle school district. All three ensembles performed at universities and Iranian & Middle Eastern cultural events on the West coast of the United States.