TEACHING AWARDS & GRANTS
2017 - Stanford Arts Catalyst Teaching Grant
2015 - UC Berkeley Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award
UNIVERSITY TEACHING & COURSE DEVELOPMENT
Stanford University: Department of Theater and Performance Studies
2017 - Introduction to Dance Studies: Dancing Across Stages, Clubs, Screens, and Borders
2017 - Dance on the Move: Migration, Border Zones, and Citizenship
2016 - Representations of the Middle East in Dance, Performance, and Popular Culture
University of California, Berkeley: Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies
Theory & Writing Courses:
2015 - ‘Billionaires, Bombers, and Belly Dancers’: Middle East in Performance and Popular Culture
2014 - Doin’ the Hootchy Kootchy: Representations of the Middle East in Dance
2014 - ‘Ain’t I a Woman?’: Women of Color Feminist Performance
2013 - Performance and Popular Culture Through a Transnational Feminist Lens
2012 - The Politics and Performance of Culture in ‘World Dance’
Dance Technique/Somatic Courses & Workshops
2015 - Experimenting with Embodied Histories: Social Memory as a Source for New Dance Techniques
2013 - Vinyasa Yoga, 5-week series
TEACHING ASSISTANT POSITIONS
University of California, Berkeley: Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies
2011 - Reflections of Gender, Culture, and Ethnicity in American Dance
2010 - The Drama of American Cultures: Race, Gender, and Performance
University of California, Berkeley: Department of Gender and Women’s Studies
2010 - Film, Feminism, and the Avant-Garde
2017 – 2018 Stanford University, Department of Theater and Performance Studies
Developed curriculum toward “Introduction to Dance Studies” required courses for the dance minor at the undergraduate level and for required courses in the doctoral program in Theater and Performance Studies
PROFESSIONAL PEDAGOGICAL TRAINING
2017 - Identity in the Classroom, Stanford University (by application and acceptance), a two quarter-long program focused on strategies for diversity and inclusion in classroom settings, sponsored by the Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning
2013 - Dance Pedagogy, University of California, Berkeley, semester-long seminar designed to introduce students to foundational principles necessary to teach practice-based courses that involve movement, dance, and/or physical activity
2013 - Yoga Tree, San Francisco, CA, 200-hour Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training Certification
2011 - Teaching College Composition, University of California, Berkeley, semester-long seminar covering teaching philosophies, course designs, instructional methods, and assessment issues in relation to teaching composition in a pluralistic university setting
ACADEMIC ADVISING & MENTORING (SELECT)
2018 - Stanford University: Department of Theater and Performance Studies, advised undergraduate student in writing, revising, and submitting an essay entitled “Choreographing Justice: How Akram Khan’s Until the Lions Challenges Western Gender Ideals in Performance” for publication in Contexts: Stanford Undergraduate Journal in Anthropology, published spring 2018
2017 - Stanford University: Department of Theater and Performance Studies, directed a quarter-long Independent Study with a Stanford undergraduate student on a project entitled “Performativity of Volunteerhood and Refugeehood: Moving Bodies, Borders, and Refugee Identity”
2014 – 2016 - University of California, Berkeley: Department of Theater, Dance & Performance Studies, mentored four first-generation and non-traditional TDPS majors and minors in graduate school applications
2014 – 2015 - Mills College: Department of Dance, MFA Thesis Reader for Aisan Hoss, “Dance of Islam: A Personal Investigation”
2003 – 2009 - Seattle Education Access (SEA) Peer Student Mentor - SEA is a non-profit organization serving underprivileged young adults who have experienced homelessness and are pursuing college degrees
2003 – 2004 - South Seattle Community College Student Support Services Peer Student Mentor - Student Support Services is a TRIO program at South Seattle Community College serving low-income students, first-generation students, and students with disabilities
OTHER TEACHING EXPERIENCE (SELECT)
Iranian dance techniques – classical/concert, regional, social, and contemporary (ongoing classes, private lessons, and workshops) (2001 – current)
2009: YWCA Berkeley 8 week-series
2008 – 2009: Seattle Iranian American Alliance kid’s classes
2008 – 2009: University of Washington Experimental College
2007 – 2009: Ongoing classes at Open Flight Studio, Seattle, WA
2003 – 2004: South Seattle Community College Continuing Education
As a dance and performance studies scholar who examines gender and racial formations, I am invested in how education and performance have the potential for creating a just and equitable world. I view my classroom as a rehearsal space for enacting social change. Rather than engaging in what critical pedagogue Paulo Freire has called a “banking model” of education, which conceives of students as passive conduits, I cultivate scholarly communities where each student’s intellectual voice is encouraged and honored. We collaboratively work to slow down judgment, acknowledge complexities, interrogate generalizations, and ask generative questions. Through discussion, community-engaged research, and creative practice, I further prompt students to locate the relevance and timeliness of course materials to students’ lives and communities outside of the classroom in order for each student to reflect upon and hone their political praxis. I have developed pedagogical methods to materialize these objectives during eight years of teaching experience: six years teaching courses of my own design in UC Berkeley’s Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies and in Stanford’s Department of Theater and Performance Studies, as well as two years as a teacher’s assistant for UC Berkeley American Cultures courses on performance, race, and ethnicity.
I begin each term with providing analytical tools for deepening our skills as critical consumers of a wide range of cultural productions. We draw from dance scholar Priya Srinivasan’s theorizations of the “unruly spectator” and from theater scholar Jill Dolan’s work on the “resistant reader,” both of whom outline feminist methods for interrogating the ideologies underlying performances. I emphasize to my students that the formal qualities of any given performance or art object do not exist separately from the cultural contexts that produce them. As such, I instruct students on how to analyze formal qualities of performances as well prompt students to query: Who is the ideal or assumed spectator? What ideologies are being performed? Within what historical trajectory is the performance situated? What are the conditions of production, circulation, and reception? How does/can performance produce and/or intervene into various structures of power? Students have the opportunity to apply these methods and questions to analyzing a variety of performance, discourse, and visual objects in each course, such as live performance, YouTube videos, visual materials, interviews/oral histories, and media discourse.
In order for students to make connections between assigned interdisciplinary texts and their everyday lives, I often pair course readings with social media such as blogs and Twitter, and I introduce historical and contemporary objects of analysis from performance, popular culture, and media. In my UC Berkeley course “Performance and Popular Culture Through a Transnational Feminist Lens,” power relations related to race and gender came to life for students when analyzing Miley Cyrus’s 2013 MTV Music Video Awards performance and the subsequent black feminists’ blog posts that critiqued how Cyrus utilized black female dancing bodies as “props.” Furthermore, through examining this performance alongside colonial displays of Saartjie Baartman (known as the Hottentot Venus), we located Cyrus’s performance within a colonial trajectory of objectifying black women’s bodies and learned how contemporary performances are inflected by historical ones.
A central teaching objective is for students to understand how representations have real-world effects. In my Spring 2015 course “‘Billionaires, Bombers, and Belly Dancers’: Middle East in Performance and Popular Culture,” I began the first session discussing the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris where two French-Algerian gunmen killed a dozen of the satirical magazine’s staff just two weeks prior to the start of that semester. Through the magazine’s controversial cartoon depictions of the Prophet Mohammed and the rhetorical debates that followed the shootings about freedom of expression and the racialized Muslim Other, students discussed how Edward Said’s notion of Orientalism becomes animated through real-world events.
Across all of my classes, I convey how identity formations such as race, gender, and sexuality are unstable performances yet tangibly felt experiences. In my Stanford course “Introduction to Dance Studies: Dancing Across Stages, Clubs, Screens, and Borders,” our unit on “Performing Sexualities in Concert, Social, and Popular Dance” focused on dancer/performance artists Kareem Khubchandani (known as LaWhore Vagistan) and Xandra Ibarra (known as La Chica Boom), whose performances prompted us to query: How does queer dance-making interrogate and intervene into cultural norms and create alternative modes of world-making? What are the critiques by queer performers of color about the imbrications of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia? We read Khubchandani’s chapter “Aunty Fever: A Queer Impression” and analyzed his YouTube video “Sari.” In the YouTube video performance, LaWhore dons a sari and sings about drawing from his South Asian heritage for his drag performances to the melody of pop singer Justin Bieber’s single Sorry. Students discussed how LaWhore’s performance points toward the racism in mainstream white LGBT circles that presume South Asian communities to be inherently homophobic. The class also attended the Stanford performance by Xandra Ibarra entitled Nude Laughing, which interrogates the compulsory white womanhood that is projected onto brown and black female bodies. The students were able to ask Ibarra questions during the artist talkback, which helped students make connections between the artist’s lived experiences and her performances. Attending live performances, participating in dance and performance- making workshops, and providing students the opportunity to ask questions of the artists they study (when possible) are critical components of the socially engaged classroom I aim to foster.
Along these lines, I am invested in teaching students how to conduct community engaged scholarship while emphasizing the power relations imbued in such encounters. As having been a non-traditional, first-generation college student who grew up low-income, I am personally invested in corroding boundaries between the academy and communities outside/alongside the academy through fostering community-engaged scholarship. For instance, I taught feminist ethnographic methods in my Stanford course entitled “Dance on the Move: Migration, Border Zones, and Citizenship,” in which students conducted ethnographic projects with dance communities on the Stanford campus and in the Bay Area. Final projects included performance ethnographies where students employed dance and spoken word as praxis for interrogating the power relations of ethnographic encounters and, for some students, connecting course materials to their own community practices.
In my dance technique and performance-making classes, I foster learning environments that develop dancers and performers as more than technicians, but rather as thinker-movers or artist-scholars. With twenty years of training in Iranian dance, Contemporary dance, and Yoga, I bring to my teaching a wide range of experiences and research about dancing and cultures that I have acquired from my investment in both academic studies and communities of dancers. I am particularly invested in exploring and dismantling binaries and boundaries that exist in many places between practice and theory and between communities that dance and dance on concert stages. I encourage my students to acknowledge and honor the socio-cultural sources that both propel and preserve particular dance forms. The dance technique class I developed at UC Berkeley, entitled “Experimenting With Embodied Histories: Social Memory as a Source for New Dance Techniques,” asked students to draw from their personal and communal modes of moving in the world in order to create choreographed and improvised performance vignettes. Several questions activated the course curriculum: What embodied histories do you bring to the class? How can we develop conversations, through movement as well as spoken words, that explore the intersections of our own and our peers’ embodied histories? My ongoing investment in dance stems from a deep respect for the diversity of dance forms and practices, some of which have been excluded from academic teaching environments, that can speak to and nurture greater cultural understanding and equitable exchanges.
In sum, my pedagogical objectives attempt tp bring together diverse theories, methods, creative practices, objects, thinkers, artists, and activists in order to provide my students dynamic, rigorous, and engaged educational experiences that provide them with a wide range of professional and personal skills for an increasingly globalized world.